Living in Rhythm

Living in Rhythm
Kathleen MacGregor L.Ac.
Traditional Chinese Medicine teaches that living in harmony with nature affords us the best opportunity to create optimum health. We can use the Chinese clock to guide us in paying attention to the natural rhythms of our lives and the highs and lows of each day.
There are 12 meridians, or energy pathways, that carry the Qi, or vital life force, throughout the body. The meridians each connect to an organ for which the meridian is named. Each meridian has 2 hours of the day when its energy is at its height and all the biological, mental and emotional functions of that meridian are most active.
The meridians are each paired together and that 4 hour time period forms a phase of the flow of Qi that is represented by an element; Metal, Fire, Earth, Water and Wood. The elements all have their own characteristics, strengths and functions on the levels of body, mind and spirit.
Qi flow starts with the Lung and its paired meridian the Large Intestine from the times of 3 to 5am and 5 to 7am with the birth of the new day. This is considered the optimum time for meditation, connecting with the breath and our inspiration for a meaningful life. The Lung and Large Intestine meridians remind us of the rhythm of taking in and letting go. We inhale life giving air and we let go of the toxins and things we no longer need. Wake up, breathe, drink a glass of water and allow time for the colon to cleanse. Letting go is often one of our most difficult life lessons.
Qi flows next into the element of Earth and the Stomach and Spleen meridians from 7 to 9am and 9 to 11am. This is when the ability of the body to digest is at its height and why breakfast is so important. The ability to care for ourselves and others and to keep a steady center grows from the Earth element. The foundation of strong Qi is created daily by healthy food and good digestion.
The Fire element and its meridians the Heart and Small Intestine, most active from 11am to 1pm and 1pm to 3pm, distribute nutrients throughout the body. At this most active time of the day the energy of Fire helps us to interact with the people in our world. The Heart wants connection. We derive health and joy from engaging with and contributing to our work and community.
From 3 to 5 pm and 5 to 7pm is the most active period of the Urinary Bladder and Kidney meridians and the element of Water. The energetic system of the Kidney holds the original Qi. The 3pm afternoon slump can indicate a deficiency in the Water element. The English afternoon tea is like a nurturing refresh button that saves the Kidney from further depletion.
The Heart Protector and Triple Heater meridians height of energy is from 7 to 9pm and 9 to 11pm. These meridians are part of the Fire element which has 4 meridians. The Heart is considered the emperor or ruler of all the other energy systems and must be protected from injury. But a ruler who is too protected looses touch with the kingdom and can’t rule wisely. This is the time of day when we come home to our loved ones, socialize and have the time to enrich ourselves on a personal level. The Heart Protector must find the right balance between vulnerability and protection to keep the heart healthy.
Digestive energy is on the wane and eating a light meal at this time of day is preferable.
The Wood element and its meridians the Gall Bladder and Liver are most active from 11pm to 1am and 1 to 3am. This is the time for our deepest sleep allowing the liver to do its work of detoxification and building up the immune system. The Wood element is the architect of our lives and the Gall Bladder is the contractor who decides what action is needed. The saying “I’ll sleep on it” is a true way to allow the Wood element to process.
When a symptom occurs repeatedly at the same time an acupuncturist might use the Chinese clock as a clue for diagnosis of the energetic system involved. The Chinese clock can be used in a treatment to choose Horary points that reveal the,” heart of the matter”,or hidden causes. Our bodies instinctively want to live by this natural rhythm and in doing so we stay healthier in body, mind and spirit.
Kathleen is a 5 Element Acupuncturist. She has been serving the Ojai community since 1991 at her office in Meiners Oaks. She can be reached at 805-646-6581 or through her web site;