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Your breath is your friend.

In Chinese Medicine, the lungs are associated with Autumn, so this is a great time to focus on breathing.

Acu Point: Letting Go

Is your breath shallow? Are you holding your breath? Discomfort in your upper chest? Hold this point on the lung meridian–it’s a few fingers under your collarbone near the top of your upper arm bone–and Let Go. Take long deep and slow breaths. Learn more about this.

Meditation

Meditation can be a powerful source of health and wellness, for both body and spirit. Even when we don’t have the time or inclination for a full meditation “practice,” a few moments of deep breath and holding acupressure points can be calming and relaxing. Try this mini-meditation.

Name: Letting Go (Lung 1)

This is a great point because its name tells you the benefits.

  • It’s the first point on the lung meridian, so it’s effective for relieving discomforts related to your lungs: breathing, asthma, coughing and chest tension, especially the upper chest.
  • Also, it’s “poetic” name “Letting Go” reminds us that this is a helpful point when we have ideas or emotions that we’re hanging onto too tightly, that we’re having a difficult time letting go. Grief, which is the emotion of letting go of something dear to us, holding this point gently and compassion can be helpful.
  • In addition, this point helps with fatigue, irritability and confusion.

lung1Location: On your front body, three fingers’ width below your collarbone, next to the top of your upper arm bone. On the top of the hand, on the web where the thumb and the index finger meet.

It can sometimes be difficult to find, but when you do, it often feels good. Sometimes it can be tender; hold gently. Often, you’ll take a nice deep breath.

To hold: You can push on this point with a light touch, or with a lot of pressure. As in the photo above, you can cross your arm across your chest and push in and up with your index and middle fingers, or all three middle fingers. Try this out to figure out what feels good. You can rub or massage the point with a circular motion.

You can hold the point with the hand of the sameside, as in the photo below (left).

lung1_2

lung1_3

Or try touching your thumb lightly on the spot. Even such a light touch can be effective.

Hold for 10 or 15 seconds initially, until you figure out what works for you. Take deep slow breathes while you hold the point. You can hold for a few minutes, but make sure that the holding hand does not get tense or tired out. Release gently if you feel any acute pain.

You are encouraged you to seek the advice of a qualified health care provider for questions about a medical condition.

In Chinese Medicine, the end-of-summer “season” (as well as all the “end-of” seasons) is associated with the Earth Element. It’s the time when some things come to a close, while other things begin.

At such a time of transition, the Earth Element reminds us to be grounded; think about healthy roots that help weather the uncertainties of transitions. The Earth Element is also about being centered; after all, the earth is the center of the other elements: metal, water, wood and fire.

Here are some ideas to support you in being more grounded and centered at summer’s end, and on any day.

Natural Sweetness

Do you find yourself at times craving sweets more than usual? When I feel stressed or wanting some “comfort”, I’m mightily tempted to indulge in my favorite almond croissant. The flavor associated with the Earth Element is sweetness, so that sugar craving can signal a state of being uncentered. The problem is that sugar can add fuel to the fire, by throwing you off balance even more with spikes in blood sugar and energy. Consider some natural sweetness: add honey, instead of sugar, to sweeten your tea; treat yourself to the natural and healthier sweetness of dried dates.

Acu Point: Hara

This point is a couple of fingers’ width below your bellybutton. This is your “energy center”, the place from where you have greatest balance. If you have lots of thoughts and ideas flying around in your head, you might feel light, ungrounded. If you’re dragging your feet, heavy on the ground and sluggish, your energy needs some uplifting, to be centered. Next time you feel uncentered, take a seat with your feel on the floor, or stand with your weight evenly on both feet, and rest one or both hands gently on your belly, under your navel. Take a few long deep and slow breaths. Learn more about this.

Grounding Through Routine

In Chinese Medicine, routine is associated with the Earth element and the idea of “home”. Do you have a daily routine that feels “homey” to you? A daily morning walk, afternoon yoga practice, or bedtime reading… I talked about this earlier in terms of the benefits of routine for healthy travel, but consider that every day of your life is a journey.

Name: Hara or Sea of Energy (Conception Vessel 6)

Location: Directly between the belly button, two finger width down.

To Hold: You can place your three middle fingers of either hand, on the point area, and press down an inch or two until you reach a firm spot. Or, you can use a more relaxed hold and place the palm of one hand gently on your belly, below your belly button, right over the point.

You can use one hand, or both, with one hand over the other. Remember to relax your hands and arms and shoulders. You can hold this while standing (evenly on both feet), sitting (with both feet flat on the ground, back straight), or lying down.

Hold for one or two minutes, while taking slow deep breaths.

This is a point that is your Center. It’s the center of our energy–as reflected in the name “Sea of Energy”. It is effective for relieving discomforts that affect the lower abdomen area: digestive issues, constipation, gas, chronic diarrhea, menstrual pain . Also helps strengthen the lower back, and addressing energy-related issues like chronic fatigue syndrome.

** You are encouraged you to seek the advice of a qualified health care provider for questions about a medical condition. **

This recent article in the LA Times, Acupressure bands for that sickening feeling, by the aptly named “Healthy Skeptic”, talks about the wristbands that hit the P6 acupressure point and help address nausea.

It cites a couple of studies that focus on the efficacy of this acu-point, which attest to how well it works, with the wristband, and with the thumb.

In a study published in 2001, for example, [Robert Stern, a professor of psychology at Penn State University who studies motion sickness and nausea] and colleagues tested Acuband wristbands on subjects who had endured a session in a stomach-churning machine that uses spinning images to trigger motion sickness. As advertised, the bands helped fend off queasiness.

That study said the benefit of the wristband is that it won’t slip and can help focus the pressure. But the pressure of a thumb can work, too.

In July of this year, researchers published a study showing that hands-on acupressure — without wristbands — reduced nausea in women receiving hard-core chemotherapy for breast cancer. The technique didn’t make a difference immediately after the chemo, but the benefits became apparent in the 10 days that followed. A control group of women who were taught to perform acupressure on a spot away from P6 didn’t enjoy any such respite.

I’ve had clients and students tell me that they’ve used these while traveling on all kinds of transportation: cars, buses, boats and planes. Some tour operators have them on hand for their bus travelers. You might want to consider getting a set for your next vacation or trip.

Reference: Post on the acu-point: Inner Gate (P6), includes instructions and photos. Click here to purchase.

Name: Inner Gate (Pericardium 6)

This point can be effective for relieving nausea and anxiety. You may be familiar with it because it’s the point used by those motion sickness wrist bands, which are also helpful foP6_pointr women experiencing nausea during pregnancy.

Location: On the inner forearm, about three fingers’ width from the wrist crease.

To hold: Gently cradle your wrist on the palm of the other hand, and lightly press the point with your thumb. You can experiment with the pressure, but a light pressure is usually effective.

P6demoBe sure to relax both arms and shoulders; you can place your hands on a table or your lap to be comfortable. Hold for 30 seconds or so initially, to see how it feels for you. For some people, the feeling of relief is immediate. For others, it can take a while; try 5 minutes. Release gently if you feel any acute pain.

Warning: Do not use this point on pregnant women.


Name: Hoku or Joining of the Valleys (Large Intestine 4)LI4 point

Location: On the top of the hand, on the web where the thumb and the index finger meet. (See the red dot on the hand in the photo.)LI4 demo1
To hold: Squeeze the point by putting your thumb on the point, and your index finger on the palm side of your hand. Make small circular motions with your thumb until you feel the point; it is tender on many people.LI4 demo2Make sure that the hand that is holding the point is relaxed. The demo photo above shows you how to hold the point, but the hands are a little tense; the second photo, on the right, shows you the hands relaxed, which is how you want to do it.

Hold for 10 or 15 seconds initially, until you figure out what works for you. You can hold for a few minutes, but make sure that the holding hand does not get tense or tired out. Release gently if you feel any acute pain.

This is a wonderful point. It is effective for relieving so many discomforts, including headaches, constipation, insomnia, stress, shoulder and neck tension.

You are encouraged you to seek the advice of a qualified health care provider for questions about a medical condition.