At the high point of Summer, a crimson poppy bursts from its green bud and brings to fullness the promise of its minute black seed.
In Chinese Medicine, this is the season of Fire. Fire’s medicine is blossoming – the capacity of the yang to expand, to open and to move us outward into life.
This moment of flowering, this fleeting time of peak Summer, arrives with a surprising clamor of color and then, almost before we catch a glimpse of its beauty, begins to soften and fade under the downward pull of the yin. The petals of the poppy fall and the ovule of the flower grows heavy, swelling to form the pod and seeds that will become its harvest.
This profusion of Summer’s blooming and the exuberant yang thrusting of the life force upwards toward the light reminds us of our own desire to flourish, to be recognized and admired as we boldly blossom the seed of our innermost nature out into the world. But the transience of Summer also reminds us of our vulnerability, our susceptibility to the effects of time and atmosphere, and our dependence on the nourishing potency of the yin – the rejuvenating power of rest and rootedness – in order for the radiance of our spirits to shine in a stable and ongoing way.
Pericardium 8 – Palace of Weariness – lao gong
Palace of Weariness is a Fire point on the Heart Protector meridian. It is located at the center of the palm on the proximal line (the palm crease closest to the wrist) between the second and third metacarpal bones.
This point is considered a central vortex of energy in qi gong and is recognized in Chinese medicine as having profound emotional and spiritual effects. It functions as a doorway that can open but also close, a point that can invigorate but also sedate. Its central function is to regulate the Pericardium, the semi-permeable membrane that surrounds the Heart, and to nourish and protect the shen – the flame of spirit that resides in the Heart center.
The name of Pericardium 8 combines the character lao 劳 – labor, toil or weariness – with the character gong 宫 – palace. Lao is a three-part character consisting of a picture of two flames over a roof above the radical for strength. Gong is a picture of a roof over a house with a window and a door. Taken together, the two characters reinforce the importance of protection (signified by the protective roof covering both characters) for the wellbeing of the Fire Element. Without protection, the flame of the Heart becomes exhausted and our inner strength is lost. For me, the twin flames also imply the idea that the Heart’s strength arises from relationship – either to oneself or another – and that the creation and maintenance of appropriate relational boundaries (the roof, window, and door) are key to caring for our Fire.
I imagine the Palace as a translucent dome of ruby-colored light, a place to go when the outer world becomes too much for the spirit to bear. It is not a place to hide out or to deny the exigencies of life, but rather a sacred place of prayer, a protected space where we can return to our own black seed and re-discover the divine spark of our spirit’s heavenly mandate.
At this time of crisis on our planet, this point is an ever-present doorway to peace, to rest and restoration. In the midst of the cacophony of pressures to act and resist, we can return to this ancient space of wisdom and healing … to gather our strength and temper our Fire, to re-orient to our own guiding light … before we open the door of the Palace and step back outside, back to the work of healing and transforming the world.
I turn to lao gong:
- When I am looking for a point of protection, particularly after a person has shared deeply during a session. After an emotional experience or significant opening in the treatment room, this point provides a sense of secure strength and appropriate shielding without rigid shutdown and helps the patient to integrate the energetic shifts of the treatment in a more manageable way.
- When a patient is going through a period of convalescence or to support healing after trauma or loss. As I needle the point, I imagine that I am bringing the person to a place of seclusion and safety, where they can gather strength and come back to their own center. In the hushed silence and peace that comes after the point is touched, a space opens where the shen can rest.
- When a patient is preparing to deal with a difficult relationship issue or event where there are complex emotions and conflicting desires. Of all the points in the body, this is the one that I’ve found most supports the paradoxical human desire to open to Self and others and at the same time, maintaining a safe boundary between the Heart and the outer world. In this regard, its placement on the cross point of the hand, the “crucifixion point” at the center of the palm, seems particularly significant. The point’s location symbolically confirms its capacity to help us bear the tension of opposites that is a central to the experience of embodiment.
- Any time there is a need to activate a protective, semi-permeable membrane, a shield around the Heart, that allows positive energies and love to enter the Monarch’s chamber while effortlessly deflecting toxic or negative influences. I often give my patients an essential oil or flower essence to apply to this point themselves between sessions when they’re going through a challenging relationship process or before and after a highly charged meeting or interpersonal exchange.
This point is potent and highly responsive. I have found that less stimulation is often more effective. Due to its location on the acutely sensitive palm of the hand, I needle it with a fine gauge needle when deeper stimulation is necessary. Otherwise, I turn to gentler tools. A single rice grain moxa burned directly on the point or a single drop of rose essential oil is sometimes all that is needed to enliven the spirit of this point.
We are offering an Introduction to Alchemical Healing at Menla Retreat in upstate New York this November. Join us! Details here.