My wonderful acupuncture teacher Miriam Lee taught us that energy (qi) circulates through the meridians in a figure 8 pattern.
So if you have pain or injury in your left elbow, you can find sore points at the equivalent location around the right elbow. Or if you stub your right toe, there will be a surprisingly painful spot just at the same place on the left toe. (You may have to press around carefully until you find the right spot and the right angle — usually the angle of the force that caused the injury.)
BUT FIRST – and this is crucial: Be as calm and centered as you can be. Allow your breath to deepen into your belly. In other words, choose to reverse the process of tightening that happens automatically when we get hurt. Relaxing into the pain and fear, worry or upset allows the body to complete its inherent ability to heal and restore circulation/flow (of qi). Resisting the pain and disruption, pushing it away, charging on as though nothing happened, tends to make healing take longer because the area of the injury has shut down and shut out the capacity for healing.
In other words, the energy/qi flow to the injured area has been short circuited by the traumatic event. The Chinese say Bu tong, ze tong. Tong ze, bu tong (“No through, pain. Through, no pain. “) “WHERE THERE IS PAIN, THERE IS NO FREE FLOW (OF QI), AND WHERE THERE IS FREE FLOW THROUGH, THERE IS NO PAIN”.
So Miriam Lee taught me to use this principle to Stop, Breathe, Sense in to the flow of energy in your body and Press in a spiraling direction firmly but with loving kindness. How you press (calmly and tenderly, even though strongly) is as important as where you press — you will recognize the right spot(s) when you find them.
Make this brief time out a meditation of “mindfulness of the body in the body”, the Buddha’s first foundation of mindfulness. I promise you, it will speed recovery time.
A personal experience: One night in 1984 I dropped a large portable television on my right foot. I sat down, right there on the kitchen floor and allowed myself several deepening, releasing breaths — non-forcing, just letting myself settle into my breath and my breath settle back down in me. (When we are hurt our breathing naturally becomes big and shallow – a ‘fight or flight’ breath. With this time out, we are reclaiming our equally natural ‘rest and restore’ breath — getting out of sympathetic and back into the parasympathetic nervous system so healing can begin immediately.)
Then I began to explore the places on my opposite (left) foot that were ‘lit up’ in pain. Remember the figure 8 pattern of energy flow: sure enough, there were several amazingly tender spots, matching where the TV had hit my right foot. I began to carefully massage them, exploring which angle of pressure seemed to get to the most of the shock-y pain. I gradually increased the acupressure on each of these points until the left foot was throbbing as much as the right foot. (I was tracking the sensations on the injured side to see how it was changing in response to my efforts.)
About the time it felt like the left foot was more painful than the right – and full of a kind of energy charge, suddenly I felt an intense stream of electricity shooting out of all the toes on both feet. And then they were both pain free.
I knew then that the whole process of my body dealing with that injury had been completed. I stood up, finished moving the TV and woke the next morning with no trace of the accident, not even a bruise.
You can ask Rick Vail about another time when he stepped on my foot and I did this. He remains astounded to this day at seeing the bruising disappear. So there are at least 2 of us who can vouch for the fact that this can work amazingly well.
It’s not always so dramatic, and some injuries leave lacerations and even broken bones that take more time to heal. (And of course, be sure to stop any bleeding first – as calmly and with as deep breathing as you can.)
As bones are healing in their casts, periodically revisit the points on the opposite side to send the qi circulating in that figure 8 pattern through the fractures to facilitate rebuilding.
Another use of the figure 8 pattern: I tripped over a suitcase someone had placed behind me and landed on my elbow. Miriam Lee gave me a treatment below the opposite knee. While the needles were in, I dreamed that she came in and put another needle above the opposite knee, both points on the meridian that runs through the part of the knee that matched the equivalent meridian running through that side of my elbow. Again, with the energy able to go through again, no pain.