Conversations from Clinic

The Pericardium

After the Kidney meridian, the energy returns once more to the Fire element between 7pm and 9pm for the Pericardium, also known as the Heart Protector. If the Small Intestine official is the immediate guard of the Heart then the Pericardium is the soldier on the drawbridge at the edge of the city. This is all about boundaries, the coming and the going, what we invite in and what we say no to. 

With a healthy Pericardium we can know when to raise the drawbridge and quickly drop the portcullis to protect the vulnerable within but we also know when to throw open the gates and allow things of value to enter.  Gates that are always closed stop nourishment from being received and gates that are always wide open allow any number of non-desirables to enter. So how to regulate the flow? 

Historically, shaking hands was a gesture of peace to show that you were not carrying any weapons. How odd that now in the time of a pandemic, that very gesture carries an entirely different meaning. Germs aside, or perhaps after twenty seconds of vigorous hand washing, when we shake or hold hands with someone else we are connecting a very significant point with each other, Laogong, Pericardium 8.
Pericardium 8 lies right in the centre of the palm, a mirror to Kidney 1 in the sole of the foot. It is the Fire point on a Fire meridian and can be very soothing to press or hold in times of stress.

To take it one step further, a chest to chest hug connects the whole of the Pericardium meridians of both people to each other. The great news is that the hug or physical contact does not only have to come from another person. You can still receive the benefits by giving yourself a hug any time or if you are unable to physically wrap your arms across you chest and around your shoulders then imagining the action will also release the feel good hormone oxytocin, calm your breathing and soothe distress.

Alternatively, you can gently place your hands over you heart in the centre of your chest and and send kind and compassionate thoughts to yourself rather than self criticism when something upsets you. Self criticism has been shown to be one of the most harmful things you can do to yourself as the body perceives it as an attack or threat and releases stress hormones which elevates blood pressure and lowers resistance to disease. On the flip side, feeling compassion towards yourself actually boosts immunity!

Photo by Hala Al-Asadi on Unsplash

One way of protecting the Heart is through blocking painful memories. This can be a skilful means to protect the heart from trauma or shock by avoiding contact with the emotion but unfortunately it can also limit our ability to experience more pleasurable emotions, too. A variation on this can be appearing absent minded or vague. To increase our capacity to receive joy and fully engage with life in the present moment, bit by bit and in a safe environment we may want to consider opening up to some of those feelings we have shut out. Sometimes when we release tension in the body though yoga, breath or body work, emotions bubble to the surface to be integrated. Once liberated, we don’t have to work so hard to keep the Heart protected and can develop the flexibility and confidence required to welcome in the new. 

Let my history then be a gate unfastened to a new life and not a barrier to my becoming.

David Whyte from “The House of Belonging” and “River Flow: New & Selected” 1996

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