Acupressure: Open The Gates To Your Best Sleep Ever
In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), the spleen is said to be sort of a worry-wart organ; unnecessarily working itself to exhaustion, constantly imagining too many tasks left undone. Sound familiar? When the spleen channel is out of whack, we wake up in the wee hours of the night, mind racing, thoughts parading. Alternately when the spleen channel is soothed, the mind settles, as if by magic.
This is because in TCM, the spleen is in charge of digestion — not just physical digestion, but also the digestion of thoughts and experiences. Working with the spleen channel is thus great for the ruminating mind, plagued as it is by our modern lifestyles filled with endless to-do lists and just-out-of-reach goals.
Spleen 4, when used in conjunction with Pericardium 6, is my go-to balm for frazzled nerves, for my mind-racing insomniac nights. I love using these two paired acupressure points in a side-lying position in bed, with a bolster or large pillow for support. Within moments, I feel a calm float over me, and then I am briefly overcome by a sense of surprised awe as the points work their energetic magic (yet again) and I drift off into z-land.
First, using the images below, locate the points, both Spleen 4 and Pericardium 6. These points are gates. When opened, they remove excess internal wind (and associated wild thoughts careening around the mind, think vata in Ayurveda). It’s important to work the points together, and to work the left wrist (P 6) with the right foot (SP 4) and vice versa.
When feeling for acupressure points, close your eyes and let your fingers seek out the subtle divot. In Japan, these points are understood to be little holes, the word is tsubos. There may be more sensation and a faint achy-ness when you land on the right spot. Allow yourself to be guided primarily by body sensation and touch rather than words and photos. You’ll know you’re on the right spot when you feel a little indentation, a place where your flesh naturally gives way under gentle palpation, this is the tsubos. Rub gently to create a proprioceptive memory of the exact location of each spot (they are bilateral, there is one on each wrist and foot).
Pericardium 6 and Spleen 4:
Next, take a side-lying position, on your right, in bed. Get super cozy. I like to place a bolster between my knees, and hug a second bolster or large pillow for support at the torso. The trick is to get into the yummiest possible position while working both the spleen channel on the right foot, and the pericardium on the left wrist. Pay attention, this is worth it:
Carefully place the protrusion of your left ankle at the indentation that marks Spleen 4 on your right (lower) foot. Experiment with foot positions, but make sure some bony part of your upper foot presses into Spleen 4. The pillow or bolster between your knees should help the ankle rest just right. There’s no need to mash down one foot atop the other, let gravity do the work.
Next find Pericardium 6 again on your left wrist. Delicately nestle your left wrist into the crook of thumb and fingers in such a way that the right thumb casually caresses P6. Again, no need to mash into the spots. Let the weight of your left upper arm release into your right hand. Even the way one hand holds the other suggests a relationship that is nourishing and soothing.
Now let the points work their magic. Truth be told, I rarely roll over to do the same on the other side (because I’m fast asleep), but if you hold the position for ten minutes and are still ruminating (you’ve got it bad my friend), go ahead and roll over to your left side to open the same points on left foot and right wrist. Alternately, you could stay on one side and just switch the placement of ankle and wrists to get P6 on right wrist and SP4 on left ankle. I’ve fallen asleep both ways (as a night-ruminator, I’ve had ample opportunity to practice and develop this technique).
This has been repeatedly been an astoundingly successful technique. I’d love to hear if it works the same magic for you. If you have questions, or would like more details, shoot me an email (firstname.lastname@example.org) or comment below.
here’s to many restful nights ahead…