A student of mine asked me to succinctly define what I think an acupuncture point is.
Here is my answer:
My patient Chris died in February. I was gutted–I loved him, for years. He was the brightest light: a "charisma bomb," who was at once warm and approachable but also a hair cooler than anyone else. He was a goofball, and a laugh, even in pain, which he was too, and it burned as hot as his joy.
The "joke" at his packed funeral was that every speaker identified themself as his "best friend" because Chris' gregariousness, honesty and connection made everyone feel like they were the one: all the light was just for them. What a gift to give.
At the funeral, his wife didn't speak but her brother did. Her brother said all the same complimentary things everyone else did–that Chris was the best, and felt like family almost instantly.
But the brother added something: he said that before Chris came along, he never felt particularly close to his sister. She was always distant, closed off, even when they were young. "Before Chris, she was weird," he said, "and cold." But with Chris she was suddenly warm; the walls came down, she softened and they were able to connect in a way they never had.
Then he sang "Shower the People You Love With Love" and I wept.
I was so taken by what he said and immediately understood it: Chris brought his gift to her–his light–and it warmed her, and changed the way she interacted with the world.
He brought Fire to her Metal.
This dynamic is what an acupuncture point is. Acupuncture points are holographic relationships for transmitting the curriculum and virtues of each of the Five Elements to the others. The points are bridges between the phases of becoming, in dynamic and evocative communion with each other.
Bringing Fire to Metal is precisely what the acupuncture point Yu Ji (Lung 10) does; it is the Fire point on the Metal channel. LU-10 carries the virtues of the Fire Element to the Metal organs.
The gift of Fire is revelry: the joy of sharing connection and intimacy, and the deep pleasure of recognizing the bloom of our potential. This is the virtue of Summer and the Heart. Metal–the element of letting go, of dying, of Autumn–tends to become overwhelmed by grief or longing, and turns to coldness, detachment and rigidity.
LU-10 affixes Fire to Metal: it brings Fire's warmth back to Metal, softening that rigidity. It opens the Heart to melt the impenetrability and snideness of Metal, and tempers the coldness with compassion. It "fires" up the Lungs to let things go with ease, because holding on too tightly to forestall grief is actually more painful than almost anything.
LU-10 releases the painful grip of living in perpetual grief by igniting joy in the Heart: it brings light to what can feel so dark about loss.
Acupuncture points are not simply buttons on a remote control, mechanically turning things on and off. They do perform static functions, but that is the least compelling and significant part of what they are, and usually the most removed from the actual process of living which they are meant to address.
The points are living dialogues between constitutions, ages, dates, and perspectives. They are exchanges between mothers and sons, husbands and wives, futures and pasts; “text messages” or “DMs” between versions of ourselves at different points in our cycle of development, offering their respective lenses for how to best move forward.
That's why they are called "transporting” points, as if to say: from over here, could you see it differently? Could you project yourself forward if you had a better vantage point?
What might your 80-year-old self say to your 20-year-old self, if it could? What does midnight think of noon? What could October teach to December if it got the chance? The points are letters between lovers, to bridge the gap between them.
If you are only using LU-10 to mechanically drain heat from a sore throat, that is perfectly fine but it misses the deeper conversation between Fire and Metal. LU-10 is asking "What might Summer tell Autumn?" What advice would Noon have for Dusk if they went to lunch? What would July shout to November across a crowded parking lot?
Summer knows the secret that Autumn does not: there's life on the other side of Winter. Our lives aren’t linear: they are cyclical. Nothing lasts and everything repeats.
The darkness of Fall–the leaves dying, the days shrinking, the Earth becoming colder, harder and more fallow–sees the devolution and posits itself as "the end," but Summer calls that bluff. July knows that grief is just a season, and like the other seasons, it passes, and there is big joy still waiting. It's already on its way back around. Fire cheers on Metal: "Lighten up!"
When I think of LU-10 now, I always think of my friend Chris, and his wife: Fire reaching out to cheer on Metal. He'd laugh and tell her, "Don't throw the baby out with the bathwater–all that grief isn't the end. Open up to the warmth of what is yet to come."
He would say, "Shower the people you love with love" and she would soften, and let him in, as she did.
This is what an acupuncture point is.
Was this succinct? Of course not, have you met me. I can’t do it any other way.
beautiful as always, thank you
So so good. Thank you