Acupuncture & TCM Articles
Neil R. Gumenick is the founder and Director of The Institute of Classical Five-Element Acupuncture. Neil is a Worsley certified advanced teacher of Classical Five-Element Acupuncture and a practitioner with over 27 years of private practice experience. Neil holds three degrees from the College of Traditional Acupuncture (U.K.), and he participated for 10 years in the Master Apprentice Programô, led by Profs. J.R. & J.B. Worsley. Neil has taught at the USC and UCLA Schools of Medicine, the Worsley Institute of Classical Acupuncture, the Traditional Acupuncture Foundation, California Acupuncture College, Santa Barbara College of Oriental Medicine, and Pacific College of Oriental Medicine. He has been a Professor at Emperor's College of Traditional Oriental Medicine and SAMRA University of Oriental Medicine. Neil is co-author of The Art of Practice Management for Acupuncture Health Care Practices
The Spirits of the Points: The Bladder Official, Part Two
By Neil Gumenick, MAc (UK), LAc, Dipl. Ac
In part one of this article, I discussed three points on the Bladder meridian (UB 67, 66, and 58) and how they are used for their spiritual connotation.
Before discussing the series of points below, I want to emphasize that we would only use these points if we were treating a patient in whom the primary source of imbalance, or Causative Factor (CF), was determined to be the Water element. This diagnosis is made entirely by assessing the odor, color, sound, and emotion of the patient. Were a practitioner to treat these points on a patient not primarily imbalanced in Water, they would be far less effective. We trust that Nature has provided the appropriate points to deal with the problems of a patient's primary elemental imbalance on the Causative Factor meridians. It is as if, in Nature, we know a flower to be withering for lack of water, though it might seem like good idea to give it more sunlight or repot it in new soil, what it needs is water and no other element but water can fulfill that need.
Therefore, except in certain specific instances, Classical Five-Element practitioners focus treatment on the Officials (organs/functions) that reside within the Causative Factor element. Such exceptions include resolving energetic blocks, which require treating the block or blocks on whatever meridians happen to be involved, and certain points that can be used for their spiritual connotations (i.e. upper Kidney chest, outer Bladder line on the back, CV [Ren] and GV [Du] channels). These can be conjoined with treatment of any Causative Factor. The pivotal thing, however, once any blocks are cleared (i.e. exit-entry, possession, aggressive energy, husband/wife imbalance) is to support and harmonize the Officials (organ/functions) that are the source of the patient's imbalance: the Causative Factor.
It is not enough only to know, however, that Water is the CF. We need to know what the Water needs: how and in what way the element needs to be supported in the unique individual before us. Therefore, no two Water CFs will ever be treated the same, regardless of the similarity of their symptoms, nor will any patient receive the same treatment he or she had received previously. The question becomes, "What does this person need now?" The patient will not be the same as when last we saw him or her. If there has been no change, we need to ask ourselves why not: "What did I overlook? How did I choose not to see, smell, feel, or hear? Where did I place my attention instead? What excuses was I choosing to believe?" In my own practice, once I stopped blaming the system of medicine for my own perceived shortcomings, the patient for being "a difficult case," or looking outside for "new information" which I hoped would "fill in the gaps" in my knowledge, everything changed. The magic began to happen in my practice. I realized that I was the only variable in the mix that needed to change. The system of medicine in which I was trained (and now train others) is capable of healing anyone, with whatever labeled disease or symptom is presented, unless the disease has truly progressed beyond the reach of Nature to reverse. Even in such instances - such as cases of terminal illness - we can alleviate pain, strengthen and support the spirit so that a patient's transition can be a time of lucidity, dignity, and peace. This has been my experience in 25 years of practice.
Every point on the Water meridian will certainly affect the element as a whole, and each has a specific influence, unlike any other, with a unique gift to offer. Every point has a Chinese character, which tells a story about that point. The names of the points are a translation from the picture into words. We must view the names in the historical context from which the names arose. There are, for example, many references to the emperor, his residence, attributes, and activities. In fact, the Officials were classically described as ministers of an imperial court, each with a unique job to do, in service to the emperor. To the ancient Chinese, their emperor was God's representative on earth. He held the power of life and death. He was connected to the source of divine wisdom, love, and was the ultimate authority in everything. All human beings have access to such a connection within themselves. When this connection is broken, the spirit within is similarly broken. It is as if the king has abdicated. Chaos, anger, depression, anxiety and all manner of dis-ease can ensue. Thus, we have to know how to re-establish the Emperor on his throne within and tend to his ministers for a patient to truly get well. Knowing the spirits of the points and the needs of the patient allow us to choose the exact points for that individual patient, who will tell us in a multiplicity of ways - if we have the eyes to see and the ears to hear.
As another example, some points have the name "storehouse" in their name. Today, with access to supermarkets the whole year round, the concept of an empty storehouse does not conjure up the panic that it would have 3,000 years ago. An empty storehouse, especially in the winter (the season of Water), meant there was nothing from which to feed the people. It meant terror and death. We see patients every day who may be physically nourished, but who are living with an empty storehouse within themselves, living with the day-to-day suffering or death of the mind and spirit. Using the spirit of the points properly, we can bring life to dead (or dying) minds and spirits. Ultimately, it is the spirit that fuels both the mind and body.
The choice of the points is often based upon pulse diagnosis, as the pulses give us an accurate reading of the relative state of energy in each Official, alerting us to energy transfer possibilities, the presence of blocks, etc. It is also important, however, to note what is conveyed by how the patient holds our hand as we take the pulses and responds as we make other physical contact. We do not just hold a hand, physically. We must be available to hold the patient in his/her wholeness through our hands. At the deeper sensory levels, it is from our inner experience of the patient's body, mind and spirit, which we perceive via our own senses, that the exact needed spirit points become clear. Having been informed by the pulses as to the condition of the Officials, and having embodied the spirits of the points, we simply give what the patient's Officials are asking of us and Nature will throw the disease out: not for a day, week, or month, but for all time.
UB 65: Bone Binder
The Water element is directly associated with the condition of the bones, as well as their ability to heal if damaged or fractured. Bone includes bone marrow, the brain, and the presence of developmental and growth problems (related to the Wood, as UB 65 is the Wood point of the meridian) may be attributed to imbalance in the Water element. This point enhances the healing of bones and benefits the entire skeletal system. The bones support our structure and hold the upright integrity of the body, mind, and spirit. Fractures do not only occur to the physical body. Trauma can fracture the mind and spirit, as well causing them to collapse. Failing to heal properly, a bone (on any level) can leave permanent weakness, deformation, and disability. This point brings essence, vitality and strength that can help such weak, crumbling, and broken bones to heal.
UB 64: Capital Bone
As a source (yuan) point, this point is often used to ground or anchor a treatment. It shares the qualities of all source points of being able to contact and access deep reserves within an Official (organ/function), tonifying and strengthening that Official within itself, bringing energy to the surface, as needed, where it can be used. The reserves which are held in the Water element provide the strength to endure. Without adequate reserves, the body, mind, and spirit shrivel and die for lack of strength and stamina. The will and determination are severely compromised, and the future seems a frightening prospect.
For its spiritual connotation, the name "capital" implies importance, as in a state or nation's capital, the seat of government. Richness and power are concentrated there. Official proclamations are made there. Issues are considered; the Emperor and his ministers make key decisions there. Capital also means wealth or property assets available for producing more wealth. This point reaches such reserves within. The bones are the deepest and densest part of the body, rich in minerals, providing support and stability. As such, this point has a deep effect on the bones, reinforcing and strengthening a patient's foundation, accessing the deep riches of the body, mind and spirit, and huge amounts of extra energy and power obtainable only at the "capital."
UB 63: Golden Gate
This is a gate of entry into the kingdom. Its golden quality refers to the emperor, who ultimately controls this gate, as well as who passes in and out. It is a gate to the abundance of resources - the royal treasury of everything good, beautiful, energizing, revitalizing, and healing. It truly brings a golden, spiritual quality to everything. Passing through this gate advances, renews, and inspires a patient on his/her spiritual path. We tend to use it on patients who have become weary, stagnant and sluggish in their journey. Fear, the emotion of water, can paralyze our patients, stopping them in their tracks. In the other extreme, it can produce chaotic, random and desperate movement, which further depletes their reserves. In either condition, they tend to pass by and miss the "golden gate," which is a door to the riches, abundance, revitalization, and inner peace found in God's palace.
UB 61: Servant's Aide
This point is used when the water-imbalanced patient needs a bit of assistance, support and encouragement. Not as powerful as UB 63, Servant's Aide is used when the patient needs the kind of help a servant-in-waiting would give: "Would you like some help getting up, sir? A cup of tea, ma'am? Shall we go for a little walk? Anything I can do to help?" A counterbalance for fear, this point gives the reassurance that the patient is not alone, or on his own. There is always help.
UB 60: Kun Lun Mountain
Water in the reservoir needs to be warm enough to move and flow freely, reaching all officials, every cell and bodily system, and every level of the body, mind, and spirit. As the Fire point of the meridian, this point provides that warmth and joy to every Official, resolving rigidity, inflexibility, and coldness at all levels. When one is frozen with fear, there is no laughter, joy, or fun. Laughter is like water. It washes the mind and spirit clean, releasing tension and negativity. Used at the right time, this point breaks the ice and melts walls of separation and loneliness. We know the colloquial expression, "freezing one's assets," meaning that one has no access to one's bank reserves. Internally, it takes warmth to unfreeze and to give the Officials the reassurance that the reserves are accessible.
In Chinese mythology, the Kun Lun mountains were a sacred high place. To reach the peaks of these mountains was to reside with the gods and immortals in a place of clarity and quietude - high above the fears and feelings of being swamped, bogged down, depleted, frozen, and immovable. From such a spiritual height, one can bathe in and drink from a warm eternal reservoir, open to the current of love that is ever-present and everlasting.
Bladder Meridian (BL, UB)
The Foot Greater Yang (Tai Yang) of the Bladder 67 points
The urinary bladder channel of the Foot-Taiyang originates from the inner canthus of the eye. Passing through the forehead, it flows up to the vertex. It bifurcates above the posterior hairline into two lines. One line runs from the posterior aspect of the neck downward along the medial border of the scapula (3 cun lateral to the back mid-line). Passing through the gluteal region. Another line runs straight downward (1.5 cun lateral to the mid-line of the back) to the lumbar region. From there it descends along the posterior aspect of the thigh to the popliteal fossa. Descending to the posterior aspect of the gastrocnemius muscle and further to the posterior inferior aspect of the lateral malleolus. Ending at lateral posterior side of the tip of the little toe.
View Bladder Meridian Point Locations.
The Art of Practice Management for Acupuncture Health Care Practices
What you will find in this book is a specific, comprehensive approach that gets to the root cause of success in practice.
This new book presents acupuncture practice as art from the standpoint of centering, qi, and wholeness. It builds on the premise that practices succeed from bridging inner and outer aspects of the self. It is an inquiry into the self and addresses clear understandings and approaches to reputable patient care and practice qi. It brings in the five elements and work with the seasons of practice from training and start-up to growth, stability, expansion and transformation. The authors artfully bridges the essence of both patient and practitioner well-being without excluding the practicalities of financial well-being. This book very specifically and extensively shows how the different parts of practice nourish and feed one another and are interdependent on one another for the qi to flow synchronistically.
It explores the dual nature of procedures that work and those which do not in acupuncture health care practice, returning again and again to the delicate balance of practicality and spirituality.