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The Stomach Meridian

The Yin and Yang pair for the Earth element are the Stomach and Spleen. They work together to receive and absorb sustenance for the whole body. The Stomach takes in nourishment from outside the self and the Spleen transforms it into something that the body can use. In Traditional East Asian Medicine, the Spleen and Stomach also govern the taking in and digesting of ideas and information.

When feeling a lack of input from outside sources, the Stomach tries to compensate for unmet needs or lack of fulfilment by stimulating our appetite which makes us want to eat more, sweet foods in particular. In moderate doses this could well provide the nourishment we crave especially if we either baked the food ourselves and received positive feedback from a successful creation or it was a gift from someone that made us feel cared for. Pleasure is also nourishing. However, if we consume more than we need and in particular food without a high return on bodily nutrition, then we can develop what is delicately referred to as ‘excess’ in the Stomach. This can lead to bloating, indigestion, belching, poor sleep, heat in the head, bleeding gums, halitosis and restlessness in mind and body.

What we choose to consume in the form of entertainment, stimulation and information is also feeding us in a way. It can be junk that feels great in the moment and not so good after or something that may not have the same instant gratification but offers a deeper, more long lasting satisfaction. Cravings always point to an actual need even if the object of our desire falls somewhat wide of the mark. It can be hunger for security, hunger for knowledge, hunger for purpose or hunger for love. When we become aware of cravings or excessive behaviour such as devouring every piece of chocolate or news article we can find, we could take a moment to connect with our true hunger or desire and then we have the chance to direct our efforts towards something that may satisfy the real need. 
Peasant woman nursing a baby – Aimé-Jules Dalou

Victoria and Albert Museum
How to work with the Stomach
Each meridian has a corresponding time of day when its energy is strongest and most responsive to our input. For the Stomach meridian that time is 7am-9am. The two hours before the Stomach is Large Intestine time. As you may recall, Large Intestine is about letting go. So, to flow with the cycle of the meridians throughout your day, first we would let go before receiving.

In preparing to receive, invite your mind to be as free of worry as possible. Ways to do this could be upon waking write a few pages of stream of consciousness writing, sit in meditation or practice tai chi or yoga. For some it may be going to the gym, taking a bath, having a cup of tea watching the sunrise or walking the dog.  Many a busy and fatigued parent has chosen to sacrifice half an hour’s sleep to get up before the rest of their family so they can have a clear, uninterrupted start to the day. What ever your ritual, even though it may take discipline to prioritise your own needs, it should not be treated not as a chore but as a gift to yourself. A commitment to getting your needs met.

After clearing the way to be a able to receive, allow yourself to consider what you would like to receive that day. Is it social connection? Fresh air? Moving your body freely? Good health? Safety of your loved ones? Financial security? The Stomach is about desire as a tool for intention setting and receiving. It is not about planning and acting. To truly nourish your Stomach meridian, connect in with your desires and be willing see what you are given. 

Signs of a healthy Stomach Meridian:

  • Eating at a moderate pace (not fast eating) 
  • Easily aware of when satiated and able to stop eating
  • Ability to receive a compliment or support from others
  • Curiosity and an ability to take in new information to the level it can be processed

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