Treating the Shen
When Cindy and I were first interested in studying acupuncture, one of the reasons we chose the Five Element Tradition was because it places so much emphasis on treating what the Chinese call the shen or the spirit. The western mind has become so conditioned to looking at healing from a scientific, analytical point of view, that to many people the holistic approach seems strange and unscientific. The very idea of considering the spirit and its role in our health would be an anathema to many western medical practitioners. From the traditional acupuncture perspective the western attitude of focusing on individual symptoms without attempting to see the overall pattern of disharmony would seem absurd. The ancient Chinese recognized, as did many other cultures, that the body, mind, and spirit all interact and affect one another.
The ancient texts of Chinese medicine show unequivocally that at its heart Chinese medicine sees man as a spiritual being and the treatment of the spirit as vital.
Zhing Jiebin says:
"When the spirits are overwhelmed they leave; When left in peace they remain. Thus the most important thing in the conduct and treatment of a being is maintenance of the spirits. And then comes the maintenance of the body." -- Rooted in Spirit
Gate of Hope
One of the ways the shen is treated within the Five Element tradition is by selected points that directly support and strengthen the spirit. Some acupuncture points have a far greater effect on the spirit than others. On the Liver meridian one powerful point to support the spirit is Gate of Hope. This point can be used to help rebuild and activate a sense of hope and purpose. When the Liver Qi is deficient the Liver cannot perform its role of planning. It we are not able to plan, we are not able to envision a future, and we have no vision of what is possible. We lose the capacity to realize that our future can improve, or that the challenges we face today can alter and change. This can be a truly devastating state of mind.
Many point names include the term "gate". A gate is a point of entry, a way from one place into another. So Gate of Hope is a way of entering into a more hopeful and positive state of being. It reconnects us with one of the important functions of the Liver. Incorporating Gate of Hope into a treatment can often have immediate and lasting changes in how we view our life. It re-establishes the ability to envision a future.
This can be particularly noticeable when the point is used in spring, the season Chinese medicine associates with the Liver. Spring is the beginning of a new cycle in nature, a time of rebirth and rejuvenation.
The day the Lord created hope was probably the same day he created Spring. --