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Gall Bladder Points on the Head
by Thea Elijah
GB-1 Tongzi Liao Virgin Eye/Pupil Hole
Framing the Picture: the Power of Witnessing
In some sense this is the LAST point on the GB meridian; it is everything we bring from our conceptual pigeon-holing analytical process to the moment of seeing. How is what we see framed by our minds? What is the structure of our witnessing?
I use this point to help open the frame, or make the frame more conscious, or help people “get it together” as far as finding a viewpoint of their own—combines well with Liv 1 for this purpose: How do I see this situation? Not how anyone else sees it—not how my husband sees it, not how my therapist sees it—how do I see it?
GB-2 Ting Hui Hearing Meeting
What do I Hear?
This is similar to GB-1 but for the ears in terms of how our cognitive structures pre-dispose us to accepting this or that into our ear. This is good for people who literally will not take No for an answer—who simply cannot hear contradiction—who say “I don’t understand” when you tell them “No,” etc. It is also a great point for shutting out the worldly voices for people who listen TOO MUCH to what other people are saying. Not for nothing that this is the point we shield when we raise our hands in front of our ears to give the Call to Prayer.
GB-3 Shang Guan Upper Gate, Upper Jaw, Above the Barrier
The Broad Outlines of the Next Big Moves
This is the rough chewing of the big chunks of the planning process—big general ideas about what to do next in my situation—how to get from here to there, or even where to go—very big very general determination of direction and method—let’s see, I think I’ll move to Alabama and open an acupuncture practice—that level of plan.
Some people are so strong in this spot! The 4 wheel drive power that comes off this point! they could chew ROCKS! Other people are so weak here. They can’t even get started—what should I do? I don’t know. My brother looking at his homework, books not even open, totally lost, unable to begin.
GB-4 Han Yan Mandible Obedience, Peaceful Jaws, Loathsome Jaws
This is the finer level of planning, where detail comes in. There are a lot of specifics here. Like GB-3, there are some people who are so strong here, and some who are so weak—and it may be the opposite of GB-3. Some folks just want to design the rough plan and get things moving, but they go uuuugh and feel exhausted when they have to get down to that GB-4 level of detail. Other folks have no idea how to get started with GB-3, but if you give them specific detailed organizational or creative work to do, e.g. designing the interior of a doll house after you’ve figured out that you are making a doll house and basically rough out the project, they are busy and happy and productive. This point is not for deciding where to put the cathedral—this is for figuring out the design of the 537 different gargoyles on the roof.
There is often a lot of anger in this point—lots of snagging on details can get stuck here—I needle this point and see people’s faces literally melt away clenched rage; their faces never look the same again as the tension leaves their clenched jaws.
There is often a lot of distortion in GB-3 and GB-4 in people who have worn braces on their teeth. The GB ill effects of braces are so awful—I know I’m preaching to the choir here. It’s awful, the people who can only think in a straight line with a “perfect” bite. The level of anger that comes from a perfect bite, when life requires a bit of a snaggle-toothed side-rip to figure out what the heck to do next, is a terrible and very “blindered” anger. What wearing a bra that is too tight/ does not fit properly does to the Liv/GB energy around the Heart is a lot like what braces do to the mind. It is a terrible imprisonment of our natural freedom, and we do not know it—we cannot see our prison—but oh we feel it and we are SO ANGRY.
The next few points also tend to have a lot of rage in them. Remember this is where the migraines pound, most of the time. Much high blood pressure also raises its voice here.
GB-5 Xuan Lu Hanging Skull
GB-5 in health has a lot to do with the mental ability to pivot. In people who are clear and healthy in this point, after the first phase of taking in from ear and eye and doing some rough figuring and then some more detailed figuring, there is a kind of sitting back and going, huh—I guess that shifts my view a little.
In most people, a great deal of discouragement usually collects in this point. The discouragement has different degrees and qualities, from mild dull exhaustion to deep despair and despondency. Sometimes it is an empty flaccid discouragement—giving up—and sometimes it is a full and desolate howling, or anything in between.
Physically this point can be seen on the meridian as literally comprising “the first set-back” along a meridian with many zigs and zags. The occasion of the First Set-Back is significant—we made our rough plan (GB-3) and then refined it down to a detailed plan of action with a closer assessment of circumstances (GB-4), and now—(GB-5) a set-back. How do we respond? With a pivot to our view would be the healthy way to respond, and in fact combining this point with GB-30 does wonders for clearing the discouragement! It is quite magical. All of a sudden we no longer feel angry or discouraged or stuck; there are so many more options than simply moving forward as planned. It may be said that the first set-back (every set-back) is a pivotal moment for the mind/GB.
GB-6 Xuan Li Hanging Hair, Hanging Fraction of an Inch
I GOT AN IDEA!!
This point on many people is a lot like acu-caffeine. There is a wild buzz here, a sudden full-tilt rush-into-the-new. In health this is a natural consequence of the Pivotal Moment which allows us to see things a bit differently due to our Set-Back. Oh, now I see something new! I have a new idea! That is so cool! I hadn’t looked at it that way before! Hey, that makes me think of This! and This! and also This! Amazing what one shift in perspective can do—so many new ways of looking at things!
If, however, we have not been able to pivot with the first set-back, this point is liable to be filled with a frustration and impatience that is at the root of many a migraine, and a good bit of high blood pressure. Oh the pounding in the temples, right here. There is a kind of wish to hurl the project forward despite the set-backs, to push through, to go go go forward—but it we cannot, and all that force turns our exploding head into a dark black pool of futile rage. This point combines well with Liv 2.
In people with a very empty GB, who never have any new or imaginative ideas, GB-5 and 6 with Liv/GB junctions and/or Xi Clefts can be a powerful stimulus to new vistas arising.
GB-7 Qu Bin Crooked Hair On the Temple, Central Pivot
In the clearing stands a boxer, and a fighter by his trade
And he carries the reminders of every glove that laid him down or cut him
til he cried out in his anger and his shame
I am leaving, I am leaving, but the fighter still remains
—Simon and Garfunkel
This point moves me so deeply that I am almost unable to speak of it. I am leaving, I am leaving. But the fighter still remains.
This is a point for those of us who have known total defeat. This is for more than a set-back. We faced our set-back (GB-5), we did our best to rise to it, and we rose with full force (GB-6) again and again until our strength was gone and we fell back, completely beaten, heartsick and broken.
The Gall Bladder lies opposite the Heart on the Chinese meridian clock. In many ways it makes sense that this very mental, linear and potentially war-like Official would be the “furthest” from the Heart, and indeed often our plans, our self-created agendas ardently or single-mindedly pursued carry us far from the Heart. Here is a point half-hidden in the “armpit” of the ear which, in the moment of our greatest defeat, opens a secret chamber back into the realm of the Heart. I think of slaves who ran away again only to be caught, and this time maimed so that they could not run again—I think of all the great defeats that threaten to crush the spirit utterly, that send the flying bird of the Hun tumbling to the ground where it lies broken and shattered—here is where the ground opens to bring us in to that secret chamber of pure spirit, Utmost Source, the deep Heart which cannot be vanquished so long as we live, even if in our outer life we live in chains or ruins. This point is best needled with HT-1.
This point can also be needled on people whose GB-5 and 6 are too full of pivots and bright new ideas, to help the person “check in” with their heart about which of these new points-of-growth to pursue, consistent with their own deep Heart. In this case I needle it with Wood Sources.
GB 1-7 may be considered the first trajectory of GB: the greeting and framing and preliminary structuring of action and response to the outer world.
At GB-7, the meridian reunions with the taiyang, and continues to travel together through GB-12. This is the second trajectory, and represents a “higher” level of thought, creativity and action/response. This is in direct contrast to the first trajectory, which represents a cognitive style more reflective of the GB’s involvement with the yangming in the front of the head.
Before looking at the following points GB 8-12, let us first consider in more depth the territory through which we will be passing, and its significance. Over and over again in the organization of the body, and hence the organization of the points, we see a tripartite division into zones representing Heaven, Human and Earth. In the microcosm of the head, the lower portion of the face represents Earth. Its sensory orifice is the mouth, the only one of the orifices which accepts “impure” substances. In the middle of the face is the nose, which is the Human realm. Above is the brow, and the eyes, which represent Heaven.
The head as a whole is also divided in three parts from front to back. The face, with its primary association with the yangming, is Earth. The middle section, primarily the territory of the shaoyang, zigzagging back and forth between Heaven and Earth, is Human. The back of the head, which is the primary territory of the taiyang, is Heaven.
The points reflect the nature of their location in relation to both of these tripartite divisions, e.g. ST-4 and 5 and 6 are Earth of Earth; while ST-3 and 7 are Human of Earth, and ST-1 and 2 and 8 are Heaven of Earth. This is reflected in the levels of perception and cognition affected by these points.
By this reckoning, the points at the bottom of the face are the most Earthly, while the points at the top of the back of the head will be the most Heavenly, while those in between represent the weave of the two worlds.
With this perspective we run into some anomalies which in their resolution will deepen our understanding of the nature of the meridians. The first is that, although the taiyang represents Heaven and the back of the head, it begins with its first point on the front of the head, BL-1, and further has points of great cognitive and spiritual i.e. “Heavenly” significance just above the face, surrounding GV-23 Upper Star. This is because the taiyang is the “hook of Heaven” reaching down to Earth to pull us upright—it is because we have this “hook” represented by GV and its assistant, BL, to pull our face up from the ground that we first sat on our haunches and eventually became upright in our posture.
This “lifting of the face” up to Upper Star rather than remaining in an Earth-oriented posture has tremendous significance for our understanding of the shaoyang meridian. When we were on all fours, then, truly, the front of our body was yin, i.e. kept in the shade by facing the ground, while our back was truly yang, i.e facing Heavenward with full exposure to the sky. BUT THIS IS NO LONGER THE CASE. If Heaven is up and Earth is down—if Heaven is exposed while Earth is hidden—etc—then in some sense we are walking around sideways!
The shaoyang, and in particular the Gall Bladder is the organ of evolution. It is the “pivotal” organ in every sense, mediating between the heritage of our four-legged posture (with cognition more focused through the close-to-the-ground sensory modes of taste and smell) and our new upright posture, with cognition more focused through the long-distance sensory modes of hearing and sight.
The GB is the organ of evolution both in that its “pivotal” role is what allows us to adjust to the shifting perspectives of a radically changed posture, and also that it is what allows us to evolve in the first place. This is because it is “pivotal” in that it is both an ordinary and an extra-ordinary Fu, and has the distinction of being one of two organs whose Luo channel descends. The Lung has a descending Luo channel, allowing it to dispel from the body what is unnecessary or harmful of the experiences that we have taken in from the world. The GB Luo also descends, but into the depths of the body—into the Chong, and allows us to move INWARD, into the jing, experiences that we have taken from the world that we do not know what to do with—but which seem directly pertinent to our survival.
(According to Jeffrey Yuen) This is where mutation arises: from what the GB has put into latency in our jing, and we have passed on to our offspring, allowing them to “pivot” in a new direction and go beyond us—with our blessing but perhaps even beyond our recognition, because the GB’s evolutionary capacity allows us to change in highly unexpected ways. It is the organ of hairpin turns and swift reversals; its nature is to move in any direction and yet remain true to the essence while responding to radically changing circumstances.
The first trajectory of GB points, 1-7, is most closely identified with our more primitive “crawling on all fours” heritage, face to the ground more or less, taking in and responding to what is right in front of us. It is highly influenced by yangming styles of cognition.
The second trajectory is more of a “sitting up on our haunches” style of cognition, with a more long-distance view of the world and our place in it. There are many mammals capable of this level of consideration and response—this is any hunter or grazer who can pause, lift, look around beyond the immediate vicinity to consider its place in the larger scheme of things—and then, in the case of most mammals, depending on what the open vista revealed, either return the gaze back down to the ground to eat, or to run from danger. It is also any mammal that lives in groups with organized yet shifting social structures.
The third trajectory will represent the cognitive style of the taiyang and the fully upright posture—the posture of one who communes with the stars.
Let’s look at these three aspects of cognition (yangming, shaoyang, taiyang) one at a time.
Yangming has everything to do with the obvious. The yangming is concerned with breaking everything down to the point where it is simple. This is itself not a particularly simple task, as anyone knows if they have ever tried to explain George Bush to a child. Over-simplification is no better than unnecessary complexity; what we are striving for with yangming cognition is something equivalent to the breast milk of the mind: a thought-substance so pure and “simple” (yet like breast milk unbelievably subtly) that it is almost directly absorbable as nourishment for both heart and mind. Yangming is about the kind of intelligence that it takes to explain something so clearly that it is a no-brainer, and make a unified mental “home” for ourselves in the circumstances that surround us: ST-2 Four Clarities, or Clear as Daylight Whichever way You Look; ST-3 Big Cheekbone, or Plain As the Nose On Your Face.
Note that the yangming is not really concerned with abstraction, nor with imagination. It is interested in what is, and in understanding what is, in practical ways. Aesthetic appreciation is part of yangming cognition, in the sense that beauty is a result of a wholeness and grace which, no matter how complex its process to achieve, in the end is simply lovely, as easy to take in as a breath of air, a clear and simple experience of receiving something pure which graces the heart and mind. Even at its most refine it remains essentially straightforward, as befits its meridian placement on the face.
Shaoyang thought is all about moving parts in relationship to one another—everything from awareness of changing social structures and our own shifting place within group dynamics, to how to hit a moving target with a rock—or how to dodge that cheetah and kill it with a spear before it sinks its teeth in your side. This is life beyond the cookbook—all is change, all is in constant flux, and we must dive into the oncoming wave prepared to dodge or jump or dive again, as unfolding circumstances demand—and we must be able to look ahead in order to know which way to jump. This “looking ahead” requires of the mind more than just perceiving what is now; it requires projection, which is a form of logic as well as a form of imagination—both of which are the province and the product of the shaoyang aspect of cognition.
Shaoyang with its capacity for imagination and reasoning is the birthplace of abstract thought, but it is not until we get to the taiyang, the full flowering of the yang of the mind, that we are able to penetrate to the depths of life’s most subtle meanings. The Small Intestine gives us the capacity to leap beyond all appearances to worlds of pure abstraction via our symbol-forming capacity, which includes our capacity for language. The Bladder, closest of all to GV, gives us the ability to gaze directly into the unknown and stretch beyond the boundaries of our earthly ken, to understand something of that which must always be elusive and mysterious. Here in the taiyang’s workings lies the capacity for philosophy, for abstract mathematics, for poetry, for scholarship and for humor, and for all pursuits in which that which meets the eye is of so much less significance than what does not meet the eye—realms of thought in which the unseen is the substance of the mind’s attention—in which the inner eye, the eye which sees in the dark with its own source of illumination within, guides us like starlight.
The points of the GB meridian on the head may be seen simply as GB meridian points, but their distribution of placement on the head, as well as their reunions with other influential meridians nearby, are a significant window into understanding the nature of each of these GB points.
GB-8 Shuai Gu Command Valley, Cricket Valley, Net of the Bones, Net of Horn
Both Sides of the Same Coin
The GB joins with taiyang at GB-7, the first point of return downward and inward, to the inner listening and inner sustaining light of the Heart. After this return, accompanied by the taiyang, it begins the second trajectory with GB-8: having fallen flat on our faces (yangming trajectory), now after listening to our heart we sit up on our haunches and take a good look around the world again. This point is right in the middle of the side of the head, just above the ear. Middle of the Mind is here, the middle of the middle of the middle of the mind, and so this is an ideal place from which to take a look around the valley and see where I am situated, and do some reckoning anew. Often this point is fraught with a sense of divided focus—a sense of looking in different directions at the same time. I think of gazelles and other animals with eyes that look out in opposite directions; here is the root of our capacity for a profound sense of dividedness in the mind, an indecision based on seeing it this way, and also that way, as we split our perspective. From this place comes our first ability not only to look in more than one direction, but also the ability to sense that we can also be seen from more than one direction, or in more than one way. This is no small cognitive accomplishment, and in many people with one-sided headaches or other one-sided symptoms, it is precisely this inability to reconcile a view that includes both sides of the coin that leads to difficulty.
This point can be used in many ways with specific point combinations, but they all revolve around living with our capacity to be tracking more than one train of thought at a time, or watching more than one point of focus, or seeing both sides. Headaches and blood pressure issues stemming from split focus (like Wood that is splintered too far) or sense of contradiction in internal viewpoint leading to conflict or indecision are common. For inability to see it more than one way (“my way”) combine with Liv 2. For indecision from listening to opposing council/different viewpoints outside myself and having trouble taking my own stand, combine with CV-12 and Liv 1. For splintered focus, combine with GB-42 and Liv 3. For violent mental conflict, combine with CV-13 and Wood junctions.
GB-9 Tian Chong Heaven’s Highway, Motorcycle the Milky Way
Here comes a whole lot of possibly very wild conjecture.
In the Nei Jing, this point is indicated as a Window of the Sky. According to Peter Eckman, JR Worsley in his discussion of Windows said that GB-9 “used to be a Window, but wasn’t presently.” Worsley went on to say that he personally used GB-16 as a substitute for a Window when treating Wood.
Before dismissing this as utter tommyrot, I would like to say that it jibes completely with my intuitive sense and personal experience with the points above mentioned. This in turn opens the whole can of worms of the notion of evolution and astrology and their reflections in human acupuncture meridians.
Further along in our discussion of the GB meridian, when we reach GB 26-27-28, we again must confront the notion of change in the meridian. These points were moved from their lateral placement by Li Shi Zhen, in order to make them part of Dai Mai. Previously GB-26 was on the level of the umbilicus, but all the way out to the side. GB-27 was POSTERIOR to the anterior superior iliac crest, in the groove, level to CV-4. GB-28 was between GB-27 and 29, and thus also posterior to the iliac crest, on the side rather than the front of the body. Given that the most common names of the points make clear reference to the hip joint, rather than to the intestines, these placements make more sense in terms of the earlier understanding of the GB meridian and its trajectory.
The explication of, and treatment protocols for, the 8 Extraordinary Meridians is a relatively recent evolution in Chinese medicine, and only in this context do the new placements of GB-26, 27 and 28 make sense. In Worsley’s system of treatment, which does not avail itself of the 8 Extraordinary Meridians whatsoever in its cosmology, the earlier side-of-the-hip placement is used.
What does this mean? Do points move? Do meridians move? Do they move not only on given individuals, but also progressively on the species? Both from an earthly evolutionary standpoint (note earlier discussion of the GB’s role in helping us “pivot” into upright beings) and from a Heavenly or astrological standpoint, it makes a great deal of sense that slowly, over time, as the star map changes in the Heavens, so too would the meridian map be shifting here on us—as we are, in part, children of the sky. And of all the meridians to most reflect this evolutionary change, the GB would certainly seem likely to be strongly affected—both down on the hips i.e. the earthly aspect of where evolutionary change has had its most dramatic impact upon us (who else walks around with fully exposed genitals (except flowers)), and up on the top of the head, at the Window of the Sky.
OK I am beating around the bush, mainly because I am not male and I am a bit shy to speak of things I cannot really know about first-hand—like what it feels like to be a brain in a body that produces significant amounts of testosterone.
Just do it. Go for it. In the spirit of GB-9! Yeah OK, in that case how can I refuse? This hesitation, this timidity and its antithesis is what the point is all about. Get on the bike and ride.
Whenever I put my fingers on this point, what I feel is an incredible roaring—the wind blowing hard through my hair, the blood pumping hard in my ears, and a feeling of tremendous speed and power at my disposal. It’s a superhero feeling—it’s larger than life—it has an epic grandeur to it, the vast upward expansion into pure freedom of Wood, and yet also the grandeur of Metal. I can fly! I can kiss the sky! I am riding my bike along the Milky Way, I can leap tall buildings in a single bound, I can… get exactly this kind of feeling, or at least something just as good, by suing the hell out of someone, or beating them up, or breaking into a candy store and robbing it, or going to war, or fucking another man’s wife, or anything else that feels like conquest—Heaven’s wind in my sails—I’m IMPORTANT and I am unstoppable—I work on Wall Street—I’m a doctor in the ER—I have a transcendent momentum which carries me—SUPERMAN!
This point is all about the feeling of the blood rushing in my ears—and how vital and alive and free that feels. There are pathologies of excess or deficiency which can occur here—the one I see most often is addiction to this feeling of my-blood-is-pumping-hard-so-I-must-really-be-alive. Lots of music is all about this, epic heroic pump-it-up music. It seems to me that a lot of male life is about this—looking for a transcendent use of testosterone, basically.
Somehow, as a Window, this point either opens a person up to this source of power and freedom to ride Heaven’s Highway—to step up and be the Superhero—or perhaps to help a person take the otherwise …how shall we say… the heroic posturing and rushing around feeling very alive and important up to a truly Heavenly and transcendent level. I don’t know. On most people, doing this point feels to me like a very very very bad idea. The only person it felt good for me to do it on was a somewhat timid but built-like-a-mack-truck woman. It really helped her step into her brawny majesty.
I think of it as the Right Use of Testosterone point.
There is some resonance between this point and GB-6 on the first trajectory. Both of them rev the engine, but this one at a much higher level of consciousness. Specifically this is a rev of the engine on this second trajectory of working, of planning, of coming up with something to do.
GB-10 Fu Bai Outer Light
Past Reflections on the Future
This is another GB point with strong Metal overtones, clearly reflected in the name. This point seems to be about seeing the images of the past reflected on the waters of the future, a floating image of the sky like a film over what is happening now. There are voices here that say, “Oh, last time we tried this, this is what happened…” There is a Lung/Colon function of recognizing where this filmy overlay of past experiences is actually useful in guiding our future choices, and where by contrast now is in fact different. One of the ways that this frequently goes awry is that there may be an over-pruning of future possibilities and visions due to old visions and voices reflected on the waters of the mind—floating white ghosts get in the way of seeing what is now. Some of these voices can be quite cruel. This point is excellent for pruning the pruning, so that there can be clarity about the back-and-forth reflections between past experience and new perceptions. Reflections from the past should bring more clear light, not more ghosts.
GB-11 Tou Qiao Yin Head Hole Yin
Inner and Outer Voices Reach My Ear
This point is like quietly sitting by a small stream and listening to our own inner voices as the play out like the rippling voices of the stream. The world enters through the outer orifices of the heart, i.e. the sensory orifices of the head. Shen, the luminous awareness of inner knowing, enters through the inner orifices of the heart. This little hidden place to sit out behind the ear is a place for sheltering out back where the voices of the outer world grow a bit more distant, to allow us to listen to the yin whisperings of perception from within.
Often I will find this point energetically glued to GB-21, almost as though the person’s shoulder was stuck to their ear. Often this is happening only on one side, but it can happen on both sides. In this case, instead of listening to their inner voices, the person is stuck on listening to the Voice of Their Responsibilities. Often in these case there is some sense that it is irresponsible or a waste of time or a luxury to take the time to get quiet and find out what we think or feel about things: What does it matter what I think or feel? I have a family to support/ I have an aging mother to take care of/ I have a mortgage to pay… In this case it is important to do GB-21 as well, and probably also GB-44 or at least GB-40.
GB-12 Wang Mu Mastoid Process, Wan Gu Completion Bone
Time for a Hands-On Approach
This point is similar to GB-20 in that it is a place of exiting from the head towards the body, but whereas GB-20 exits to the heart, GB-12 exits to the limbs. It’s time to take action—not necessarily definite action with no further thought process, but it is time to end deliberation in favor of beginning to make a few moves. We know enough now to have reached at least a provisional decision, and it is time to cease thinking and begin carrying it out. Here energy transfers from the mind to the body, allowing a sense of satisfaction for both. We think it through, and then we do it. If it doesn’t work, well then, that’s what the third trajectory is for….
The third trajectory is also part of yang wei mai, and so it is a place of higher principles that unify our external self-governance, our statesmanship as a citizen of the universe.
GB-13 Ben Shen Essential Mind, Root Spirit, Basic Sanity
Basis of Sanity
I rarely do more than just touch this point; I use it more diagnostically than anything else. Often I will use it as a place to check in with a person and see how they are doing, fundamentally, during times of great upheaval and upset, especially those that challenge our basic sanity. I think of this point as the place where we “flip out,” where the actual flipping takes place. When I feel into this point what I sense is like a very thin gold leaf that trembles between a layer of oil and a layer of water, keeping a delicate inner balance between the words of the three different trajectories, and the three different kinds of thought. It is a balancing point like the center of a gyroscope, constantly pivoting and pivoting again in many directions at once, in order to keep balance between inner and outer voices, between higher and lower aspects of ourselves, between past and future, knowledge and projection, frames of reference constantly shifting and colliding… I can feel in this point how close someone is to thinking they are crazy, and how close to truly losing their balance. Sometimes a person is ranting and raving about something that has sent them off balance in some way, but when I feel this point, they are basically sound—they may be wobbled, but they are not on the verge of spinning out or breaking down. Others, even though they are more quiet about it, can be walking a very very fine line that is about to snap…
GB-14 Yang Bai Yang Brightness
Having established our sense of personal sanity, now we are ready to move forward with larger visions and projects. GB-14 is a place where images and visions are projected forward into the future—where we can already see the house as it will look when we have built it, or the husband before we have met him. This is a point which focuses very highly concentrated powers of both imagination and determination: these are the “visualizations” that are at times so tangible that we feel we can almost touch them. They are the dreams we plan to realize—or that we may not realize are still only plans. Often when we “project” on other people, what we see with GB-1 is only what we have projected forward—like a movie projector—with GB-14. Then we see just exactly what we expected to see.
On the rare occasions that I have worked with clairvoyants who can literally “see” the future, it is through this point that they are having their clairvoyant visions. This is not a receptive seeing, like GB-1. It is not so much that the light of the future reaches to them here; it is more that their own hun projects out forward into the future from this point.
If sanity/dynamic balance has not been established in GB-13, then the “tilt” in GB-13 is passed on to GB-14, creating a distorted kind of projection—resulting in GB-1 seeing only what our own distortion/madness leads us to see, and a feedback loop of unhealthy projection/perception is established.
The other way that distortion of projection arrives in GB-14 is through GB-15, as described below.
GB-15 Tou Lin Qi Head Working Through Tears
Very frequently when I place my finger on this point, I feel a distinctive moment of recognition: Oh, Thomas Jefferson. Probably if I were Italian, I would be thinking of Leonardo Da Vinci, and if I were German I would be thinking of Goethe, but I’m American and whenever I put my finger on this point I think of Thomas Jefferson. I’ve come to think of it as the Thomas Jefferson point. It’s an incredible feeling of an extraordinary level of expanded statesmanship. It’s the GB that can look over an entire nation and create a declaration of independence and work out a constitution. This is an incredible level of loftiness of thought that has to be in a sense heavenly influenced. This doesn’t come from the earth. The way that the stars move: we’re talking about that level of divine orchestration in thought-forms.
This is an eminence from which we can see both the forest and the trees. From this eminence the composer can conceive of the whole symphony, in its totality as well as myriad parts; from this intricate yet vast eminence, we can begin to know our Great Work. Whether artist or statesman, this vantage point allows a comprehensive view within which details unfold as part of The Grand Scheme. (This is all that the Scarecrow from Wizard of Oz was longing for—this point).
This is like an astronomy mind, but it is at the front of the head so it is being applied to earthly matters. We’re at the intersection of two planes: the earthly and the heavenly, because it is the earth/front and heaven/top.
This point often brings with it a tremendous lifting of frustration, as though an airplane has lifted us up to allows us to see from above the pattern and shape of the things that we are working with in our daily lives. The sense of relief, the sense of freedom, the sense of vista is frequently enough to bring tears—as is the converse feeling of being lost in a forest struggling forward without any idea of orientation or progress—how easily we can wonder if all of our struggles are even worth it. Is the world becoming a better place? Is my teenager learning how to be a functional human being? Has the nuclear power plant gotten any closer to shutting down, are there any fewer sick and starving babies, am I any closer to getting my degree? Why am I doing all this anyway, and what do I do next? Is it worth it?
This point helps us to rise up to where we can see ourselves not as a single ant carrying a leaf, but one of many all marching together in a common direction with a common goal, which history will look back upon and declare to be a movement. Through this point we are in touch with Higher Mind, Collective Mind, the Grand Schemes of peoples and nations—again, thus both good art and good statesmanship stem from here.
Often people’s grandest schemes are not nearly grand enough for their own heart to thrive and be true to itself. I remember touching this point on a student, and having him say, “oh, I use that part of my brain to do my homework.” I said, “Give it a moment, and let the point open for you.” He did, and in a few minutes he was saying, “OH! Oh my gosh! Oh, this is from where I write my symphony, this is from where I conceive of the greatest plans—oh I think I feel dizzy…”
This point must be anchored in points on the feet! The Grand Schemes are very grand, but useless unless they are also practical. Occasionally I use this point for potheads, who frequently have damage at this point in that they are able to let their hum fly to great comprehensive heights and dream vast dreams, but the through the excessive opening of this point, the hun escapes and loses its grounding connection with the rest of the meridian. I use GB-40 if the person needs anchoring and stillness, and GB-41 if the person needs anchoring and momentum forward in the real world.
The pathology of GB-15 has a lot to do with our relationship to crying. I don’t fully understand it; I have just seen it.
Back in 94, I was in Findhorn in Scotland, talking to some guy who was talking about some kind of research they had done on the difference between men’s and women’s brains, especially honing in on men who cry and men who don’t cry, and the results on their neurophysiology, especially issues of neurotoxicity. This is completely unsubstantiated. I have just been remembering it in the last couple of months because I am starting to look at the whole issue of what crying does to your brain, and the importance of crying. This is crying not so much in the sense of grief and the lung, but in the sense of: tears are the body fluid of the wood element. Of course there is a head and a foot working through tears. What does that have to do with how my brain works, and with keeping this point open? I can’t tell you exactly. But I do know that Wood people who don’t cry get clogged up in this point, sometimes physically: Wood people who have sinus troubles clear up really well with this point because it almost cries for them, especially if you put it with GB-41 Foot Above Tears. Often people will literally cry. I remember the first time it was done on me, I busted immediately into tears. There tends to be ‘crying storage’ that goes on up there.
I am really interested to understand the brain functions of crying. What I notice is that when people don’t cry, something happens to their eyes. One of the things that can happen from not crying is that people get meaner. Don’t cry, hold the hurt inside… Crying is for healing; Wood is for healing. The body fluid of the liver is crying. You get hurt, and crying is part of the healing process… When you get hurt and you start to cry this has nothing to do with grief. This is a very different relationship to tears. I am crying because it hurts. That is a Wood function.
There is something very magical, very special, very important, about a head regulating itself and a brain regulating itself though tears. Arnie Mindell, one of the conflict resolution people I most admire, says that this is one of the most important things in being able to not retaliate, i.e. in learning how to have a non-violent response to other people’s aggressions. He says that this is an important part of how to take other people’s hurtful intent and actions that are coming at you, which may feel like injury or trespass, and not reflexively lash back. How to train ourselves to be more peaceful is: Crying. If somebody hurts you? You could try to hurt them back, or you could cry. As we cry, our violent impulses wash away. Crying disperses violent impulses. Crying disperses the urge to make the other person hurt the way that we are hurting. What are we doing to our boys when we say to them be a big boy, don’t cry? Or make fun of them for crying? It doesn’t happen to girls nearly as much; they are allowed to cry. But to make them hold it in, and to complain later about the results??
Teach crying and make space for crying. I have to tell you I think one of the most important things I do in the treatment room with men who can’t cry is to give them scientific physiological reasons to cry. You can tell a guy, Yeah I know, your training is like this… but for your health, I’m going to ask you, please, to let yourself cry… I will talk them through the whole thing, really calm and really gentle, but the words are like a continuous clinical lullaby: “That’s really great, you’re clearing all these neurotoxins, you really need to get this out, this is very important, this is really great work in terms of recovery and healing.” They get to the point where they are just about sobbing, and meanwhile I keep up a steady gentle litany of how practical this is, scientifically, for him to be doing this crying, in order for him not to be too embarrassed to do it at all. Most guys, when they want to cry and they are just too embarrassed to do so, they just need to know that you consider it an excellent strategic move, and then they are not as embarrassed to cry in front of you.
Then there is a kind of meanness, in people with the narrowed eyes: that is the weight of GB-14 carrying the phlegm of uncried tears. These folks usually have those foreheads that slope out. A forehead is supposed to go straight down. If it gets wider at the eyebrows, that’s the phlegm of the uncried tears bearing down, making a kind of meanness in the gaze. They are looking at you, and you haven’t even done anything yet, but there is already this projection of unhealed hurt that is making a kind of meanness in there, coming from a deep need to cry.
So do your crying, and encourage your boys and men to cry; it’s really good stuff. This is important to remember especially if you are angry, really angry, angry enough to hurt someone. It’s probably because you’ve been hurt and you haven’t cried enough to clean the violence out of it, until it becomes not violence but passion and the ability to self heal which we are given through the magic of tears. Now what that has to do with Thomas Jefferson? Or Da Vinci or Goethe; do great men cry more? I think so!
GB-16 Mu Chuang Eye Window
Opening the Skylight of the Mind: The Master Plan
If GB-15 opens our mind to the ability to conceive in detail the Grand Scheme, then GB-16 opens the mind’s eye still further—to the Grandest Scheme beyond our conceiving, of which we are but a small part. Our sense of self resolves into a vast freedom—the freedom of a context so much greater than ourselves that it is almost as though we are relieved of ourselves. It’s hard to explain. We forget ourselves—we are part of a map so huge that the experience is more about opening to the sensation of being located within a moving, progressing cosmos than about me me me, although I am a small part of this vast movement. When a person is ready for it, it brings a sense of freedom and purpose within the greatest possible context. When a person is not ready for it, it can bring a crushing sense of overwhelm, pointlessness and despair. Also frequently in those who have done a lot of hallucinogens this point has been over-stimulated and may have shut down—or else it may be stuck open, allowing strange things from beyond our daily frame of reference to enter and interfere with the workings of our mind. We need to be ready for this window to open, because what is truly beyond us is… truly beyond us, until we are secure enough in our selves that we are able to live with a view beyond ourselves without getting lost.
I will often do this point with CV-4 to anchor the vision of the endless progression of the stars above in the simple sense of north star in the lower dantian. Or I may do it with CV-2 in order to keep the person anchored in their connection to their own foundation on this earth.
GB-15 and 16 essentially take their orientation from GV-23 (Upper Star) along with the surrounding BL points 3-5, all of which are reflective of the posture of raising one’s face up from immediate earthly concerns to gaze at the vastness of the unfolding earthly vista in the reflected light of Heaven’s infinite vault. The area of the front of the head, just above the downward slope of the face, is like a promontory above all of the territory that lies open to our senses before us; it is therefore literally the highest point of elevation of the conscious mind. Soon after, GV begins its descent down the face.
GB-17 and 18 take their orientation from GV-20. GV-20 is the summit of yang, the highest point of the Du meridian before its plateau and downward slope over the face, but it is also at the back of the head. It is surrounded by BL-6 and 7 (Transmission of Light, Direct Knowledge of Heaven). GV-20 is the height of yang, but it is also in a small whirlpool-like indentation in the head (in Confucius, this was a large indentation, so that he was able to collect and receive so much of Heaven’s influence). Immediately in front of and behind GV-20 lie GV-19 and 21, points with names which include the word “summit.” It is perhaps significant that GV-20 does not—it is a place of gathering. The surrounding BL and GB meridians run in the opposite direction from the Du channel; around GV-20 they reach a promontory similar to Du’s promontory at GV-23. After this, they wane; they descend earthward, and thus their nature is more receptive than the BL and GB points which surround GV-23. These slightly later BL and GB point names and indications imply a function of gathering-at-the-summit for the sake of a kind of Heavenly receptivity, an ability to receive a transmission from above. The concept of Ling Tai comes to mind: a high tower where the Emperor can go to be close enough to Heaven to receive guidance from above. At GV-20 there is nothing between me and Heaven, not even what is laid out on earth in front of me, not even my kingdom, not even my own conscious mind.
As reflected in the point names and in the nature of the BL meridian, BL-6 and 7 are most purely concerned with the deep penetration of heavenly illumination (starlight) into the brain, as direct knowing of the deep mysteries such as come to us directly in deepest meditation; it is for this reason that this area of the head is frequently covered during prayer, so that the reception will be clear, protected from worldly influences.
GB-17 Zheng Ying Fright and Fear, Upright Construction
Taqwa: the Awareness of Being Seen From Above
When we move over from GV and BL to the province of the GB meridian, we come to GB-17, a point whose name is as diversely translated in common TCM textbooks as “Fear and Fright” or “Upright Living.” Appearing directly after GB-16, a point which gave us an open window into Heaven’s design, comes a point which gives Heaven an open window into our design. GB-17 brings a sense of being watched from on high, or being seen into from above, as in the Sufi concept of Taqwa. Taqwa is sometimes translated as “the fear of God” but actually is a state of awareness of God’s awareness of us, that pervades all of our thoughts and actions, and which guides and influences them accordingly.
We have spoken of the GB in terms of three trajectories, each associated with one of the three meridian-based cognitive styles, and we have linked these three layers or trajectories with subsequent phases of evolution. In doing so we risk creating a false impression of a mind like a layered cake, or different archeological strata, in a forward and upward progress through time with no looking back. In fact the nature of the mind is a sort of zigzag like the GB meridian, complete with interconnections between the layers along the lines of a “chutes and ladders” system, allowing the layers to communicate, mediate and regulate each other. There are particular points which are especially given to these “chutes and ladders” functions.
In the first trajectory, GB-4 is a “chutes and ladders” point which gives the greatest vista to the thought process, and is often used to release anger that is caught on foreshortened or near-sighted vision of details, opening up to the somewhat bigger picture of the whole brow (note the point’s proximity to GB-13 and 15, as though it were reaching upward to the third trajectory).
In the second trajectory, GB-9 as Window of the Sky is performing precisely this role of opening a window of communication or harmonizing perspective between the second and third trajectory.
For the third trajectory, Worlsey has stated that he uses GB-16 like a Window, and I would add that I use GB-17 also—but with slightly different functions. Whereas GB-4 and GB-9 function as simultaneous chutes and ladders between the layers of the mind (and GB-13 is a kind of uber-chute and ladder for the whole system), GB-16 gives the mind a Window for looking out beyond ourselves into the Universe, whereas GB-17 gives us a sense of being looked INTO by the Universe.
This is often a very uncomfortable feeling, especially when we are not accustomed to it. When we are alone, and feeling unseen, we also generally lapse into a state of not seeing ourselves—and in this state a great deal may go on that we would not ever allow to happen if we thought that anyone was watching. Nobody is watching—and that includes us. This often has unnoticed but potentially dramatic effects on our behaviors and choices.
A developmental psychologist named Asher was telling me about an experiment that a female psychologist did, in which she constructed a sort of open viewing-box which she wore on the front of her body, framing her naked breasts. Otherwise she was dressed normally. She did her experiment out on the street, where she approached various men and asked them if they wanted to feel her breasts. Some fellows said no thank you, and others were quite happy to begin fondling her breasts with an absorption that was clearly focused “within the box” as it were. The man clearly had no awareness 1) of the woman attached to the breasts, or 2) the other people also standing around watching him.
Asher said the point of the experiment was that at a certain point the researcher would say to the man, “Are you aware that you are being watched?” There would generally be some response along the lines of, “Hm?” And she would ask again, “Are you aware that you are being watched? I’m watching you. Other people are watching you, too.”
That was the interesting moment—the moment of what-the-hell-am-I-doing that comes when we SEE OURSELVES from the outside, via our awareness of being seen.
Ideally this sense of being seen is a tremendous opening, a gift of penetrating consciousness that can be taken to our very core, and link together all layers of our being (yang wei mai).
Let me tell a few stories to illustrate this.
A number of years ago I had a pal named Rufus. Really he was my then four-year-old son Joshua’s friend, a man in his early 40’s who was socially dysfunctional in a number of ways but a wonderful person who somehow attached himself to our household (we had quite a few of those). At some point, Rufus took a great qi gong course, started practicing all the time, and became not only sane but unbelievably sexy as far as I was concerned. I was not in the least shy about expressing my enthusiasm for his charms—I practically sent catcalls in his direction—I can be fairly exuberant and relentless in that way. Through all of this there was not the slightest room for misunderstanding—there was no way I was actually going to get involved with him; both of us were perfectly clear about that—I was basically just expressing myself, plus cheering for the home team. So that was fine. Where things got interesting was while we were traveling together—which we did a lot because I would bring him along with me for Joshua-care when I taught out of town. We were pretty physical with each other in a comfortable way, and all the lines were clear internally so it didn’t really matter much if a bit of a wild grin passed through our touch every now and then—who cares we’re alive.
One night in a hotel room, circumstances made it necessary to attempt sleeping in the same bed—and it was such a disaster. It was fine for him—he’d made a decision to go to sleep, and off he would go. I couldn’t do that, because as I started to drift off, I’d get to the point where I had no idea who I was, no idea who he was—all I knew was that there was a warm man who smelled nice in my bed and I had very positive response to that, and the next thing I knew I’d be putting the moves on him—which would hurl me back to consciousness—and I’d realize he was Rufus and I was Thea and that this was not what I planned on doing. This happened over and over again as I fell asleep. I finally told Rufus, “I just can’t do this, I’m really sorry, I guess I’m so attracted to you that as I drift off I just reach out for you.” He couldn’t understand it at all; he said, “But you already know you don’t really want to—right?” I said “Yes yes yes, when I am awake, the Awake Thea is perfectly clear, with no question and beyond a shadow of temptation—it’s just when I’m half asleep I don’t remember that I am Thea, or anything about us or my life, and so my decisions are made without that context. ‘Nice man, let’s touch him more’—that’s all I’m aware of as I hold you and begin to drift.”
He didn’t understand at all, but for me it was a new twist on something I used to call Tiger Taming. This was back in my Goddess Whore days. A lot of what went on with men was creating more and more pathways of awareness between the sexual tiger and the Very Nice Man. For some fellows, there was a fairly early breaking point where enough lust was in the blood that all of a sudden there was NO oversight left from anyone sane at all—pure animal had taken over. Nobody is watching. Do, act, now. No talk. No reasoning. No reality that is real beyond this moment. Here and now is the only context, and I make my decisions accordingly.
One of the things I used to play with a lot was that line, helping men get more able to stay in touch with some distant sense of larger context of witnessing without also losing touch with the tiger. This is exactly what was operative in me on a day when, under great temptation, I had a non-fatal but still rather terrifying moment of kissing a colleague for whom I had strong feelings—the blessed searing agony of it was right there—no way not even for a moment could I stop the awareness of what this meant and what I was doing, even though it felt great. Taqwa won out; it was over (almost) before it began. I couldn’t lose sight of the bigger context; the eye would not close. The upper trajectory was giving oversight to the lower trajectories, putting all of it into an inescapably larger context for me to make my decision.
We often make some really regrettable decisions without sufficient taqwa, when we lose that penetrating Heavenly eye into our more ancient and primordial processes.
The other side of Tiger Taming is also an essential part of this point’s awareness. There were many men who came to me because they had TOO MUCH sense of being seen from above, but in a way that had caused them to reject what they saw inside themselves, and as a result could never feel entirely comfortable and free in bed (or anywhere else). They were the most dedicated and kind and conscious lovers, which is… nice, you know? Nice guys. My job as I saw it was to get them to the point where that crazy look got into their eye, and they fought terror and rage and madness and the desire to throw me to the ground and take me on the spot—which is exactly what I was asking for—it scares the shit out of me but there’s also a way that it feels terrific to know that your man has gone completely out of control over you. (I remember my first time with one wild man—I actually remember thinking, “If I just surrender completely, then nobody will get hurt.” In the madness, his tenderness is expressed by refraining from outright ripping me to shreds. Now that’s a nice guy…)
Anyway, a whole lot of men walk around with pent up tigers because they are so NICE and they never want to be the selfish animal roaring thing that just cannot pause, cannot stop, is not evaluating, has no higher consciousness and might do something regrettable or hurt someone… I see how scary it is, for a lot of men. Even the wildest of women just do not contend with this in themselves, this degree of testosterone, this hijacking roar. And yet imprisoned tigers are not good for anyone’s health—besides which, what a waste of a tiger… the best and sexiest thing of all in a guy is that fabulous wild primal male ROARRR from the depths—yeah yeah come after me, come after me—uncaged and free and not ashamed of itself and knowing that it isn’t BAD it is loved it belongs here—yes—because that deep deep eye of Heaven GB-17 is also always present—penetrating—NOT REPRESSING—but always here, Heaven is here, light is here, love is here, even deep in the jungle within.
So I think of GB-17 for those nice guys who want to skip or leave behind the whole animal kingdom and just fly off to the transcendent virtuous stars, but their balls are still pumping from below and uh… the phrase “ball and chain” comes to mind… There’s no transcending this vital madness; there’s only fully descending into it from above, and then it is interpenetrated (rather than OVERRIDDEN) by Heaven’s eye, and that is the true freedom. No cages.
GB-18 Cheng Ling Receive/Support Spirit
The Creator/Creation/Creativity Continuum
Deep inspiration enters into the creative process here. “Where do your creative ideas come from?” This is towards the back of the head, yet still high up, so we are working with the unconscious mind but at a Heavenly level.
GB-19 Nao Kong Brain Hollow, Empty the Mind
Who Needs This Anymore? The Evolutionary Dumping Grounds
I call this the Puking Point—lots of bad ideas come puking out of this point when I press or needle it—often energetically it is like violent projectile vomiting from the back of the head—Bleeeecchhh—an ejection of bad old ideas worth nothing (or worse). It’s great fun to watch it puke and puke and puke. Out with the bad ideas! Empty the evolutionary mind of its old crap. As we move forward, this is what we leave behind.
GB-20 Feng Chi Wind Pond, Chaos/Insane Pool
The Kaleidoscopic Fly Eye
Here is the place of integration of ALL THOSE EYES—all the eyes all over the head looking in all those directions and seeing it all those different ways. This integration is quite a job. Some views must be rejected/ejected from here too, but not as much as GB19 which is really built for the major CLEAR IT OUT job. This point is mostly about bringing it all together, so that it is not pure cognitive chaos. The flight of the Hun gives us the ability to see a situation from many different angles—and when we cannot reconcile how it looks from “over here” with how it looks from “over there,” this is a common etiology of internal wind. This is inability to master the winds of shifting viewpoints, and make a unified view to present to the heart, results in EITHER pain in the head or a very unsettle feeling in the heart.
From here the meridian moves on to the body, and the journey continues from the highest reaches of consciousness, descending through the many practicalities of negotiating a path forward in every day life.
(if you want to learn more about this and other meridians, sign up for Whole Heart Acupuncture! All this plus lots of practical focus on how to approach acupuncture points to evoke their full resonance when needling in the treatment room.)