In my last blog I wrote about the Gall Bladder and its importance when it comes to coping with change. But the Liver is equally as important. Both are related to the Wood element. If you remember from my blog earlier in the year, the Liver represents the warrior within us. It gives us the courage to make changes and to see them through. A healthy Wood element also gives us flexibility. A tree with no water will eventually snap in the wind, or it will simply be uprooted.
Follow this link for a recap of the Liver’s role in the body.
The Liver acts as the General; it needs to be smart and courageous. It is responsible for defending the borders of the Empire and making plans to do so. But in order to do this efficiently, the General needs to be flexible as well as courageous. So just being brave isn’t the only characteristic needed to cope with change, you also need to be flexible. Sometimes retreating, stepping back and assessing the situation, is necessary on the road to victory. Just imagine an army that can only go blindly forward.
So it’s all well and good that a healthy Gall Bladder enables us to make changes, but we also need the courage provided by the Liver.
Change and moving forward – Amanda’s story
Amanda came for acupuncture earlier this year primarily to sort out her sciatica and tight hamstrings. After we talked for a while I began to pick up that she wasn’t particularly happy with certain aspects of her life, and she was quite angry. There was a lot of frustration in her life. Her husband was dragging his heels and procrastinating about agreeing to a divorce. She was bored with her job and she wanted out. And to top it all, she had recently been diagnosed with high blood pressure!
Based on Amanda’s sciatica and high blood pressure, I was pretty sure there could be Gall Bladder and Liver involvement, but after hearing more I was certain. I suggested that perhaps it was time for a change and this was a contributory factor to her health issues. This is a chicken/egg situation. Is her Qi stagnation stopping her from moving on, or is the inability to move on causing the Qi stagnation which is affecting her physically? Well it’s difficult to say, but not that important in the scheme of things. By treating the physical we can also affect the emotional. So that’s what I did.
Amanda didn’t know where to start, plus she was quite fearful of change. Where do you start? She had bills to pay and a son to provide for. No one likes having the boat rocked when you feel like you are barely clinging on. But when I suggested that the problem could be an imbalance, this struck a chord. To make change we not only need to be strong and warrior-like, but we also need to be clever strategists. Just like General Liver.
With Amanda I worked mainly on the Sacrum, an area where lots of channels cross, so it’s prone to stagnation. It is also where the Gall Bladder and Bladder channels intersect. As we know, the Gall Bladder is the decision maker and its paired organ is the Liver, the warrior. The Bladder’s function, on the other hand is to do with sorting waste products – what to hold on to and what to let go of, and its paired organ, the Kidney, controls fear.
Fear balances the warrior and stops us from making hasty decisions, but it can also stop us from making any decisions. We literally freeze in fear. So by working on these channels to release Amanda’s back pain, I was also working on an emotional/spiritual level. First the back issue was resolved. And then one day, after about six sessions, Amanda told me that her husband had agreed to a divorce (with some encouragement from her) and that she had made a stand at work!
So here we are at that really weird time of year when it is neither too hot or too cold. In Chinese Medicine this is the time of year associated with the Earth element. It is a transitional time of year when we benefit from the harvest but also take stock for the coming lean times of the winter months. It is also a time of change.
Change is natural and is the only thing that is certain. But there can be problems if it is resisted, especially if it is forced upon you. Disease or injury are just as much about dealing with change as they are about being ill or in pain. Not being able to work or exercise, or even simply getting up and down the stairs, all test ones ability to deal with change.
Why can change be so difficult?
As you know from my previous blogs, any imbalance of your Qi will affect your health, physically and emotionally. It’s complicated, of course. We are not machines who just need new batteries every now and then. A very fine balance is needed between all the organs in order for there to be good health.
How can Acupuncture and Tui Na help?
The Gall Bladder channel and its points are particularly relevant when it comes to difficulty dealing with change. The channel itself is situated on the side of the body. It starts on the side of the head, travels down the ribs and flanks into the buttock, and then down the side of the leg to the outside of the foot, where it finishes on the inside of the little toe. Perhaps, because of where it’s channel is located, the Gall Bladder is said to control our ability to rotate and turn the body. On an emotional level, a healthy Gall Bladder helps us make decisions and change direction in life.
In my Acupuncture and Tuina practice I find people are often stuck in an old way of thinking, or an old lifestyle pattern, which stops them from moving on. And it’s often these old ways of thinking which got them where they are in the first place. These thought patterns lead to frustration and anger. They ask themselves’ ‘Why me?’. Mixed into this there is also often fear, guilt, regret, self-recrimination, every emotion that goes with a chronic illness/injury etc. And as you know, all emotions, over time, will affect our health.
I’ll be back
It’s all these additional emotions that can make change so difficult. Which is ironic really when you think that as physical beings we are constantly changing. However, the belief that the body regenerates itself every seven years is actually a myth. In actual fact, although some cells die and are lost forever, some are able to rejuvenate. Brain cells are precious; we lose thousands daily and they do not return. The Liver, on the other hand, is like the Terminator, it just keeps on coming back. But given enough abuse and it will eventually pack up. Unfortunately, it is so tough that there are no symptoms of damage until it’s too late!
Bones take up to 10 years to regenerate, whereas skin only two weeks! The cells of the heart also have the potential for regeneration, as do finger tips and toes, the endometrium, the kidneys and the vas deferens (testicular tubes). Other areas of the body such as the bladder, lung, penis, vagina and spinal nerves also have the potential for regeneration, but only with the intervention of stem cells or in a laboratory. Pretty amazing stuff. But don’t chop anything off if you can help it, it might not work every time.