Mary Hart of Healing Heart Acupuncture shares her thoughts on the coming season from a personal and Chinese medical perspective. She relates how needling a particular point (Gate of Hope) helps to support her patients in making healthy change in their lives:
by Mary Hart, M.S. L.Ac
The other day one of my clients said she felt like September was the beginning of a new year, more so than the January of our calendar. I totally agree and I think it’s because we grew up with our school year starting in September. Because of this, Fall has a hopeful feel to me.
When I was a kid, the new school year brought with it a clean slate. I always loved this because it made me feel that I could create a better year than the year I left behind. I had a new motivation to conduct myself the way I really wanted to. I didn’t always succeed, but the feeling of newness was undeniable and that is probably why I liked school so much. As we get older, that feeling of hope is harder to experience with this level of purity because it gets dampened by life’s disappointments. I wanted to focus this newsletter on the renewal of hope and how it keeps us young and vibrant (and healthy!).
One of the acupuncture points I use the most is called “Gate of Hope.” It is the exit point of the Liver channel and is found on the lower ribcage, around where the diaphragm descends when we are in a relaxed state. I have been doing a study on this point since I use it so often. Because of the point name, Gate of Hope, I can actually use it to counsel clients on the role of hope.
When we get symptoms of liver stagnation like depression, headaches, menstrual abnormalities, infertility, I always consider that the Gate of Hope might be closed with the client’s psyche residing on one side or the other. On one side of the gate is the trusting optimistic visionary who is able to see a future in which their dreams are reality and their prayers are answered. On the other side of this gate is the dark, fearful pessimist who grumbles at the hopeful warrior thinking him the naïve, Pollyanna, who is treading the edge where he is likely to be damaged beyond repair? The negative gremlin would like to contradict the ideas of the warrior and stay where things are small and controllable and contained, safe from harm. We actually need both of these aspects of ourselves to be living in harmony with the liver energetic.
Anyone who has ever read a self-help book can recognize that the hopeful warrior’s attitude is a “better” attitude to have. But anyone who has ever suffered the disappointments of life, like couples struggling with infertility or people battling depression, knows how it can sometimes feel more comfortable to hang out on the gremlin side of things.
How does one open the gate of hope and have a permeable boundary between the two opposing forces? This is the journey. It takes an incredible amount of emotional maturity to sit somewhere in the middle and tolerate the possibility of two outcomes, staying mindfully open to possibility. I believe acupuncture helps open this gate to the possibility of hope, while grounding us in the current state of our reality which may be looked at as a resting place along the path of our lives. Being able to experience loss and hope concurrently is to achieve a state of mental, emotional and physical balance.
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