Thursday, August 4, 2022

22 - 29 Earth's two officials: the Stomach and the Spleen

The Earth element has a unique quality which helps define its position at the centre of the circle of the elements.  It is the only element whose yin and yang officials are paired so closely together that part of their meridian pathways run almost in parallel to each other over the upper part of the body. The yin and yang pairings of the other elements spread themselves over the outside aspect of one or other limb (the yang official) and the inside aspect of the limb (their yin official).  This holds true for the two Fire yang officials (the Small Intestine and the Three Heater) and the Metal yang official (the Large Intestine) over the outer aspect of the arm, and for the Wood yang official (the Gall Bladder), the Metal yang official (the Bladder) and part of the Earth yang official (the Stomach) over the outer aspect of the leg.


In the case of the Stomach official, however, both Earth's yin and yang officials combine to run closely together up from the lower abdomen to the chest, where surprisingly it is the Stomach which passes over the breast, having a point on the nipple itself (one for obvious reasons not needled, but nonetheless there described in all the point reference charts).  And surely the nipple can be regarded as the most yin aspect of the whole body, for it is there to draw nourishment up from deep within a mother's body to feed a child.


I have always felt that this helps illustrate Earth's rather ambiguous role at the centre, where it is there to give but cannot do this until it has itself received sustenance.  So I regard its two officials as interlocked more tightly together than any of the other yin/yang pairings.  They are both closely associated with the physical processing of food (the Stomach) and passing on the results of this process around the rest of the body (the Spleen), but we may tend to forget the important role they play at the deeper mental and emotional levels of our being. For they are the powerful controllers of our thought processes.


It is no coincidence that one of the important points on the Stomach meridian is St (XI) 8 Head Tied, a lovely point to help the Earth element release all those jumbled thoughts which Earth people often describe as being locked in their heads.  When the Earth element is out of balance, its imbalance often shows itself in its speech, which seem to churn over the same thoughts time and again, as though, as I like to put it, "it can't swallow them".  And this is how I describe this, because I have noticed that when my treatment releases Earth's blocked energy, often by needling XI 9 or unlocking an entry/exit block such as a LI/St (X/XI) block, and allowing it to flow smoothly again, I have seen my Earth patients physically swallow and immediately stop talking, sometimes in mid-sentence.  It is as though at long last their Stomach officials have cleared the blockage and are now able to pass their thoughts on to the Spleen to carry further.

It is good to remember that the Earth element's emotion is also described as not only "sympathy", which is our ability to experience others' emotions, but also by the word "thoughtfulness".  Being thoughtful has a very positive connotation, for it not only emphasizes Earth's connection to thinking but also its positive association with looking after another person in a careful and caring way. 

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