The pericardium is the primary protector of the Emperor of the Body aka the Heart. Peri meaning “around” and cardium meaning “heart,” the pericardium physically encloses your heart in protective tissue. Energetically, the pericardium also protects and serves. They are the chief advisor to the Emperor and best represented by the archetype of the judge because of their ability to remain impartial to all outside influences. The judge’s loyalty to the Emperor is unmatched, but that same loyalty can lead to masochism and self-defeat.

In Acupuncture, the pericardium points are used to access a person’s spirit. The spirit is our pure essence, the balancing energy that we are born with and that exists untarnished only when we are children. Inevitably, our pure childhood spirit is influenced by our experiences in life but that doesn’t mean it has disappeared.

Spiritual
Photo by Fuu J on Unsplash

To locate the pericardium meridian energy within yourself, you need to assess your ability to stay impartial and connect to the deeper, spiritual side of life.

Do you often get told you are a good judge of character? 

Is your mind often a very quiet calm place to be?

Do you know immediately who you want to invite into your life?

Are you occasionally masochistic, hurting yourself either by accident or on purpose?

The pericardium meridian is a great judge of character and has the potential to be an exceptional athlete. The skin meridian is the pericardium’s balancing personality type and is represented by the athlete. All personalities connect subconsciously to their balancing type whether they realize it or not.

By strengthening and stretching the pericardium meridian, you gain access to your spirit. You also may learn some exercises to heal shoulder injuries and postural issues related to computer work. To understand the pericardium meridian’s place in our series, we will examine its western medicine functions, archetypes, common imbalances, and exercises to help restore the healthy flow of our meridian.    

The Pericardium in Western Medicine

The pericardium’s purposes in the body all revolve around its relationship to the heart. The pericardial fluid-filled sac surrounds the heart and keeps it in place. The pericardium provides a barrier to prevent friction with surrounding tissue and keeps the heart from over-expansion when blood flow increases. 

The pericardium also protects the heart from any infections spread from nearby organs, such as bacteria from the lungs. If the pericardium becomes swollen or inflamed, also called pericarditis, the inflammation obstructs heart function. Pericarditis is caused by infections, cancer, kidney problems, heart attacks, or certain medicines. Another pericardium imbalance involves increased fluid between the pericardium and the heart, or a build-up of blood and fluid in the pericardium.

The health of the heart is dependent on the health of the pericardium and vice versa. You can clearly see that the pericardium has close relationships with many of the body’s main organs. It protects the heart but also closely interacts with the immune system, kidneys, and lungs. In Traditional Chinese medicine, the pericardium protects the heart but also protects the mind and spirit with its wisdom and neutrality.

Exercises

Beginner

Reverse Plank w/ Resistance

Intermediate

Triangle Pose with a bind (with or without strap)

Advanced

Prayer Behind the Back

The Judge: A Just Protector

Other Archetypes: Advocate, King, Queen

The judge archetype represents the pericardium’s unique ability to step outside of the situation, putting aside their feelings and desires in order to cast judgment fairly. The judge follows the checks and balances set forth by the heart meridian, and so heart and pericardium imbalances often appear together.

Everyday fluctuations of heart meridian energy in the body would throw us completely out of balance without the pericardium. The pericardium protects us from excess joy or euphoria. You might be thinking, what is wrong with feeling happy? Happiness is something that we aspire to. But euphoria can be extremely disruptive to the balance of the body.

In Traditional Chinese Medicine, the pericardium meridian protects the heart from emotional distress in the other organs including fear from the kidneys, frustration from the liver, and grief from the lungs. Known as the “king’s bodyguard,” the pericardium is the energetic body’s defense against extreme emotional outbursts which, in Chinese Medicine, are thought to be powerful disruptors of balance in the body and a major cause of disease. 

A Mature Fire Element

The pericardium is the mature version of the fire element and is related to the spirit, circulation, and sex in Traditional Chinese medicine. Making love is an act of maturity and therefore you need a strong pericardium meridian in order to have mature sexual relationships. The pericardium energy lets us know when love, passion, sex, and intimacy are appropriate and aid us in choosing the right person with whom to share them. 

The pericardium plays a crucial role in the health of our spirit. When we are healthy, we know immediately who and what will be good for us. But when we are out of balance, we may fear the changes that certain actions, words, and people could bring to our life. If you are having difficulties connecting to someone close to you or want to open the road to your heart, check in with the health of your pericardium first.

Moving with the Spirit

As the most spiritual of the meridians, the judge has an interesting relationship with the physical realm. Those of us who lean toward the spiritual realm live outside of time and to be present requires active concentration. When the mind wanders, the spiritual person could easily injure themselves or push way past their limits.

Other types react differently. Physical types are obviously the most at home in the physical world. They are immediately conscious of anything related to the senses. Emotional types are deeply connected to breath and rhythm. They can read the emotion in the room instinctively and react to it. Analytical types are extremely goal-oriented. In a physical capacity, they are the ones most likely to seek out a trainer, set a schedule, and push toward their goal. Spiritual types naturally generate resistance which makes them innately skilled at resistance training. They are deceptively strong and have great endurance in exercise. 

Photo by David Marcu on Unsplash

A Judge in The Gym

Our case study for the judge looks at a woman in her eighties who loves being active. Through no fault of her own, she sustains an injury to her leg and after some recuperation time heads back to the gym to pick up where she left off before her injury. As she gets on the treadmill, she begins to tune out, falling into the rhythm of the movement and thinking about other things. 

Often this client gets off the treadmill and is absolutely fine, but the next day she feels battered and sore. While her leg felt fine in the moment, she inevitably feels the effects of her work out and her disconnect from the physical world sabotages her healing process. She can’t seem to find the balance and this experience repeats over and over until her doctor tells her to stop working out altogether. While working with the trainer at Infinity, the woman laughs and says she knew that she would hurt herself. She jokes that she has a masochistic streak and continued exercising even though she knew she was doing too much too soon.

All of our strengths can become weaknesses when we are out of balance. Self-sacrifice becomes masochism, achieving a zen state is a step away from zoning out, and resilience in the face of an injury could be pushing too far, too fast. The trick is to identify our bad habits so that we can learn from them. For spiritual types, a few tricks to tap into their physical, subconscious self by paying attention to their senses, eliminating distractions, and holding onto something physical like a worry stone or stress ball.

Looking Forward

The balance to the most spiritual of the types is the most physical. The skin’s archetype, the athlete, is the most physical of the personality types. This meridian is another great protector of the body, mind, and spirit. This meridian coordinates with all of the body’s organs and plays a crucial role in controlling stress. Learn more about the skin meridian in our next article of the Meridian Archetypes series.

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