HOW TO GROUND JET LAG
We live in an increasingly global world community. The more familiar different cultures and nations become with one another the more apt people are to travel. Yet crossing timezones can be taxing to the subtle and vital internal rhythms that guide our functioning.
Traditional Chinese Medicine tells us that the 24-hours of the day are guided by the functioning of the 12 major organs via the 12 major channels. These channels are: the Lung, Large intestine, Stomach, Spleen, Heart, Small intestine, Urinary Bladder, Kidney, Pericardium, Triple burner (a regulatory system covering three regions of the torso that relate to temperature regulation and water circulation), Gallbladder, and Liver. Every two hours one of these major channels becomes primary and has a greater influence on the functioning of Qi in the body.
The Stomach, for instance, becomes primary from 7am until 9am (thus the importance of breakfast). If one was going to try to treat and reinforce the functioning of the stomach, this time of day would be ideal to needle or even acupressure a point on the stomach channel. Keeping this in mind, we can start to understand that our bodies change throughout the day. This is why some people feel that they are ‘night owls’ or ‘morning people’. The organs that are affected at that time of the day may be in or out of balance and therefore have a large influence on the overall well being.
When traveling across the timezones our bodies are forced to calibrate and adjust their internal rhythms very quickly. This can exhaust the system and use up vital qi and yin fluids (this is why it is crucial to hydrate during travel). Yet we can assist the body in the process by stimulating significant acupuncture points that are in accord with the timezone that we are traveling towards. For instance, if someone is traveling from New York to Bali, and the current time in Bali is 7am, then regardless of the time it is in New York, the indicated point on the Stomach channel would be self massaged. Below is a list that illustrates the time of day and the matching organ that is in effect during that time. Following that is the location of the acupuncture point where the source qi of that organ can be most easily accessed. Don’t fret if you cant get the exact location from the description, your intention and effort will go along way towards helping prepare the body.
3am: Lung. The point is called Great abyss (Tai yuan). The point is located at the wrist crease, on the lateral (thumb side) and palm side (inside). You should feel a slight depression on the lateral side of the pulsating radial artery. This is the point.
5am: Large intestine. The helpful name is tigers mouth. (He Gu). The point is in the depression where the index finger and thumb bone part. You will feel a tender area and this is the best place to massage.
7am: Stomach. Called surging yang (chong yang), you will have to take your shoes off! The point is is at the slight depression at the high point of the instep, where a pulse can be felt. Just go to the highest point on the foot and feel for a pulse, and you're close enough.
9am: Spleen. The point is called supreme white (tai bai). On the inside of the foot, the point is at the depression under and proximal to the bone of the first metatarsal (big toe). Basically just run your finger from the bone of the big toe in just a little towards the ankle, and right away you will most likely feel a sore point. The point is right off the bone.
11am: Heart. The point, spirit gate (shen men), is on the opposite side of the lung point. On the palm side, it is at the depression at the end of the protuberant bone (at the head of the ulna). Just massage the inside (pinkie) part of the wrist crease.
1pm: Small intestine. Another good name, wrist bone (wan gu), this point is on the outer side of the hand, in the depression by the prominent bone in front of the wrist. The point is between the base of the 5th metacarpal bone (pinkie side) and the hamate bone.
3pm: Urinary bladder. This point, jing gu (origin bone), is the opposite of the spleen point. It is below the tuberosity of the fifth metatarsal bone, at the junction where the skin changes color tone. Just massage on the outer side of the foot below the bone that sticks out.
5pm: Kidney. The point is called great ravine (tai xi). It is at the depression at the midpoint between the tip of the medial malleolus (inner ankle) and the Achilles tendon.
7pm: Pericardium. The point is called great mountain (da ling). You can find this point at the middle of the wrist crease, between the tendons (palmaris longus and flexor carpi radialis). It is between the heart and lung points.
9pm: Triple Burner. This point (yang pool, or yang chi) is on the other side of the wrist (dorsum). It is in the depression lateral to the the tendon of extensor digitorum communis. If you make a line between the third and fourth finger and trace it down to the wrist bone, you will feel this depression and it may be sore.
11pm: Gallbladder. The point is called Qiuxi (hill ruins) and is located in the depression below the outer ankle bone, anterior (in front) and inferior to the bone. In other words, you may feel a sore point below and outside the outer ankle.
1am: Liver. This point, great surge (tao chong), is located at the depression on the dorsum of the foot, distal (just past) the junction between the first and second metetarsal bones. This is a major stress point and can be easily felt when pressing between the the first two toes on top of the foot.
When massaging the points, just press either in a clockwise fashion or just press up and down on the area. Feel free to adjust the pressure according to your desire for either hard touch or soft touch. People who enjoy a hard massage probably should use more force when self massaging these points than a person who is more sensitive. You can massage the point as often during the two hours as you feel, but even just 60 seconds will have a strong effect.
It may be a good idea to adjust your watch to the time of day of the time zone you are traveling towards. This will make it easy to know what point to work and will begin to signal to your mind to switch gears. Remember that this is intended to relax and help you, not stress you out. So don’t feel upset if you miss out on a two hour opening (which means you may be sleeping and that is great as well) or if you are not sure where the point is. Just try your best and know your intention is much appreciated by your body!