Part 2 in the Self-Care for Emotional Healing series (read part 1 here)
Guilt is heavy. Ever get a sinking feeling in your abdomen when you feel like you didn’t live up to your own standards? Or experience a sensation of something weighing on the conscience, like you were carrying something heavy? The weight of guilt has even been shown to make physically demanding tasks seem more difficult . And letting go of it can be tough.
In Chinese Medicine, the mind, emotions, and the body are intertwined, and we can use the points on the body to help resolve emotional issues. Some of the most powerful points for dealing with guilt are found along the Belt Vessel, the only major acupuncture channel that runs horizontally. As its name implies, the Belt Vessel encircles the waist, but drops lower in front as though weighted down. This channel is like a basement: a place to stash things we haven’t quite figured out what to do with, or that we’re not entirely proud of. We don’t go there very often, and it tends to get stagnant and damp. (“Dampness” is the Chinese Medicine term for energy that’s turbid, heavy, cumulative, and difficult to get rid of – yucky stuff.)
To lighten up that damp basement and clean out the stuck emotional energy from the Belt Vessel, first, conjure up what you want to let go of and extend a feeling of forgiveness towards yourself. Then, bring your fingertips and thumb together, and with firm pressure, massage the following points:
- Gall Bladder 41: on the foot, just outside the tendon that leads to the little toe, on the right side for women, on the left for men. This point opens the Belt Vessel.
- Liver 13: on the side of your torso, at the tip of the 11th rib
- Gall Bladder 26: just below Liver 13, at the level of the belly button
- Gall Bladder 27 or 28: On the low belly, just inside the hip bones
To enhance the treatment, apply a drop of essential oil to these points. Neroli, cardamom, sandalwood, or bergamot help the body resolve dampness and guilt while fostering a sense of peace. Since guilt tends to linger, you’ll want to work with these points for a few days in a row, then take a break. Repeat that cycle until you feel a sense of lightness and liberation.
 Day MV, Bobocel DR (2013) The Weight of a Guilty Conscience: Subjective Body Weight as an Embodiment of Guilt. PLoS ONE 8(7): e69546. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0069546
Worry. It’s the force behind that knot in your stomach, the clenching of your jaw, your trouble falling asleep and the furrow in your brow. You know it’s not accomplishing anything, but your mind resists getting off the hamster wheel.
How can you change the channel? Turns out, there are points for that. The Stomach and Spleen are responsible for digesting not only our food, but our lives: absorbing what’s useful, letting that nourish us, and passing on the not-so-useful stuff to the Large Intestine so we can let it go. Worry is the mental equivalent of sluggish digestion, or chewing on the same thing over and over again without swallowing. Just as there are points to aid digestion, there are points to help dissolve the mental knots. Here are three:
Spleen 5 is the point to use when your compassionate heart leads to a worried mind and you can’t stop thinking about the problems your friend (or your kid, or co-worker) is facing, even though you know there’s nothing you can do to change their situation. This is empathy gone astray. First, summon some compassion for yourself – it’s tough to watch someone you love go through something hard. Then, find the point on the inner foot, just below and in front of the bony bump on the ankle. Press this point firmly with your thumb, and massage in circles for a minute while thinking to yourself “I let go.”
Lung 7 is the go-to point to help clear your mind of worry. Like the breath itself, this point helps anchor us to the present moment rather than projecting into a future that may never come to pass. Take a long, slow breath and massage Lung 7 – Make a “thumbs up”, and locate the point about an inch towards your elbow from the thumb/wrist crease.
Tap Heart 5 when you’re worried about what you’re going to say. This point helps you express what’s in your heart, so it’s especially useful for speaking your truth, confronting someone, or having to say “no.” Located on the inner wrist, one thumb-width up from the inner crease, just inside the tendon that leads to the pinky. Tap this point gently for 30-60 seconds, visualizing raindrops striking and bouncing up from a puddle at the point.
Changing your relationship with stress is the most powerful thing you can do for your health. If you’re ready to revamp your nervous system for more ease and confidence, check out your bodymind toolkit:
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