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Love hurts - Intimacy and the Pericardium: Education Series

Love hurts - Intimacy and the Pericardium: Education Series

by Grace Ganel

Have you ever experienced heartache? What about an emotional shock that took your breath away and left you with an ache in your chest? Do you find your shoulders curl forward frequently? Maybe you even sleep curled up? If so, your Pericardium may have been through a thing or two.

In Allopathic medicine, the pericardium is a literal fluid-filled sack the heart. This essential buffer space protects the heart organ from bumpy rides and helps the heart to carry out its functions.

In Chinese medicine, the Pericardium’s role of protecting and assisting the Heart extend to emotional and spiritual functions, too. When someone says something to hurt your feelings, your Pericardium takes the blow for the Heart. It still hurts, and you’re conscious that it hurts, but it’s not a life-threatening kind of emotional pain unless something is amiss with the Pericardium.

The ancient Chinese though of the Heart as the emperor, with several other organs positioned around it to protect it from the influence of outside threats. Right outside the emperor is his palace, the Pericardium. Outside of that is the wall surrounding the palace, which we call the Triple Heater in Chinese medicine (more on this in my next education post). Small intestine is like a guard or secretary that works closely with Pericardium, Triple Heater, and Heart to help sort through information that may enter or leave the domain of the emperor. The Pericardium has more to do with warding off literal threats, including emotional threats.

In this manner, the Pericardium helps to control how close we allow ourselves to be with others. When Pericardium is in balance, it contributes to our sense of propriety - we can be frank and open with lovers and close family appropriately, but we can hold back when we meet new people until we’re sure we can trust them with our vulnerable realities. The gate of the Pericardium can get stuck, metaphorically, in an open or closed state. If one is too open, one is vulnerable to the world emotionally - like the expression wearing your heart on your sleeve. If the gate of the Pericardium gets stuck in a closed position, a person could struggle with being intimate with others, and may find themselves feeling lonely and isolated from others, desiring connection while at the same time pushing it away.

The Pericardium can be injured, energetically, by the emotions of Shock and excess Joy (a manic state). When this happens, acupuncture can help to balance the opening and closing of the Pericardium gates, encouraging this hard-working official to get back into the swing of things after a trauma or vulnerability.

Pericardium helps the heart to complete the functions of circulation, and it has the nickname “Circulation and Sex” within some circles of acupuncture. It takes a great deal of intimacy to open into the experience of sexuality and sensuality - a person must be open and vulnerable with themselves and with their partner(s) to engage in sexual activity. When Pericardium has a few too many wounds to tend, a person can find themselves very much “turned off.”

When you’re feeling a heartache, or struggling in your close relationships, you can gently rub the insides of your wrists, right down the middle. You may find these Pericardium channel points will calm you down and open you to new perspective in your relationships. Right on the wrist crease is a Pericardium point named Great Mound. In point-name terminology, a mound represents an opportunity to get to higher ground and see things from a new angle - because this point is on the Pericardium channel, it can help you to gain perspective in your relationships, and could be a great point for you if you’re in an argument with your partner(s). To locate it, hold your hand palm up and find the place where your wrist bends. Right in the center of your inner wrist, on this place that bends, between two tendons, is where Great Mound lives.

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