The Alchemist: A Lung Meridian Archetype
Part One: The Alchemist
A healthy lung meridian can help you channel your inner strength and hidden power. For those of us who work at a computer desk, the lung meridian is of particular importance to our physical health. It houses the issues of a desk jockey- tight pecs, sore back, and poor posture.
Infinity’s training system uses western medicine theory combined with eastern resistance exercises to target specific muscles in the chest, upper arms, and shoulders. These exercises can bring strength to overworked or underused muscles and help with overall flexibility. They can bring ease to muscles with blocked energy and stimulate energy flow so that movement will be effortless and balanced.
The lungs hold a special place in the function of our physical, spiritual, emotional, and mental bodies. To understand the lung meridian’s place in our series we will examine its western medicine functions, archetypes, common imbalances, and, of course, exercises to help restore the health and flow of our meridian.
The Lungs in Western Medicine
From our very first moments in this world, our lungs are active. They take in oxygen, distribute it throughout our bodies, and expel the resulting carbon dioxide and metabolic waste.
Our lungs’ primary responsibility is to provide the rest of our body’s systems with oxygen. Once inside, oxygen travels through the bloodstream to our muscles.
Our muscles use oxygen to convert glucose to ATP, or potential energy. If there is not enough oxygen in the muscles, the glucose is turned into lactic acid. This can lead to soreness and fatigue. By improving the oxygenation of our muscles, we can improve performance, stamina, and endurance. We can also increase our recovery rate after a vigorous workout.
When the lung meridian is blocked, the flow of oxygen is impeded and can cause issues with muscle movement and cardiovascular stamina.
If we use bronchitis as an extreme physical example of a blocked lung meridian, we can see the connection between western and eastern medicine. Bronchitis impedes your ability to take in oxygen since the bronchial tubes that carry oxygen to and from your lungs become narrowed and inflamed. Without oxygen, your muscles will feel fatigued. This then leads to energy blockages within the eastern medicine lung meridian system.
The best way to improve oxygenation in your body is to practice yogic pranayama, or diaphragmatic breathing, which consists of deep inhales and long exhales. Think of a breath that starts in your belly, expands through the chest, and ends at the top of your throat. Massage can also help by improving circulation, helping muscles receive and hold oxygen.
The Alchemist of the East
Associated Archetypes: Alchemist, Leader (King and Queen), Rebel, Revolutionary, Guardian, Bully, Tyrant
Hard as steel, steadfast as iron, the lung meridian finds its home in the slow decline into sweater weather preceding the quiet of winter. In TCM, the lungs serve the vital role of controlling the movement of qi in the body using the breath.
The lung meridian also creates and distributes Wei-Qi, which is an energetic immune-system-like barrier that protects us from harmful pathogens. It is our body’s first line of defense against outside invaders and assists the body in its constant adaptation to the world around us.
We use the alchemist to describe the lung meridian because of its control of the body’s Qi. The alchemist takes elements from their original form and transforms them into something new. Instead of instruments and chemicals, the lungs transform breath into life. It helps us absorb new ideas- assimilating what can be used and releasing what no longer serves.
If you are seeking to transform stagnant energy, let go of grief and apathy, or push through a lack of inspiration, the lung meridian is the place to start.
By using Infinity’s training system you can reestablish balance in your muscles and give power back to your inner Alchemist. A healthy lung meridian will give you a strong sense of leadership, justice, truth, and perseverance. Even those who feel strong in these areas may want to tap into the strengths of the lung meridian. Infinity’s exercises can help with that too. For example, doing a set of push-ups (a primary lung exercise) before an interview can help build confidence in the interviewee. You may have heard of power poses. Infinity’s lung meridian exercises are the ultimate power poses. Use them at will to tap into the strength of your lung when feeling powerless, protective, or in need of inspiration.
Arm 90 degrees press into the wall
Handstand- many variations
Other Meridian Therapy
One of the best releases for the lung meridian is applying pressure to the area where your pecs meet shoulders in the front body. In TCM and acupuncture, the L-1 and L-2 points are found here. Even better is to have a friend gently apply pressure while you lay on your back. By breathing deeply into the tight areas in your pecks you can aid the release of this blocked lung energy.
Tip: In trigger point therapy you would hold pressure on a trigger point (the area that is tender/sore), take two slow, full breaths then notice if the sensation of pain is less. If the pain is constant that area is not a trigger point. Move slightly to the left, right, top, or bottom near the sore area. The goal is to find a place that decreases pain as you hold the point.
The Desk Jockey’s Savior
In this burgeoning age of computers, most of us have become well acquainted with tight pecs and achy backs. If we sit hunched over our screens with our necks bent forward at an awkward angle, our muscles are unable to support us efficiently. Gravity takes effect, dragging us down and causing the poor posture associated with heavy computer work.
For example, when carrying your grocery bags you flex your bicep to less than ninety degrees because, in this position, your bicep is stronger. Now imagine carrying your groceries out in front of you with a straight arm. Your bicep is still working but it cannot hold your bag up nearly as long as it could if your arm was bent.
Another example would be taking an elastic band and stretching it to its limit. You leave the elastic band like this for days or even weeks. When you finally release the elastic band, what will happen? Most likely, it won’t snap back with the same elasticity it had before. If the elastic is used properly and allowed to regain its resting shape, it maintains its strength and flexibility. This is what is meant when we talk about our muscles working efficiently.
Look for the patterns in your body. Chances are the same issues rear their ugly heads every couple of months.
Do you struggle with issues of control?
Are you unable to let go of your grief?
Or maybe your imbalances have remained in the physical world. If so, do you find yourself hunched over due to tight pecs?
Are your wrists, forearms, and elbows a constant source of discomfort?
By identifying these patterns within ourselves we begin the path to healing. You begin to recognize areas of weakness but also build on areas of strength.
The lung meridian embodies our power. It is our inner leader, alchemist, bully, and protector. We begin by examining physical health, and then look deeper to find the imbalances of our spirit, heart, and mind.
Throughout this journey, we find that maybe the lung meridian is an area that we are strong. Perhaps we have been told all of our lives that we are natural leaders. Maybe we have mastered our passive-aggressive urges and let go of our need to control. Perhaps your pecs, delts, and biceps are an area that you admire on yourself. Infinity’s exercises will help you to achieve balance even if this area is a spot of weakness.
Keep reading if you have not yet discovered what TCM can reveal about you.
In this article, we examine only one-half of the metal element. To fully understand the health of the lung meridian, a closer look at the large intestine meridian is essential. The large intestine is the yang to the lung’s yin. Commonly called the “perfectionist” the large intestine embodies our inner visionary and our ambition. If your lung meridian muscles are too sore to work on, the balancing side will indirectly work these muscles without pain until they relax enough to be worked directly. If you work at a computer and have soreness or postural imbalances, you may find that your large intestine needs as much work as your lung.