Part Three: The Mediator
Strong peacemaking skills and a tendency towards empathy give the pancreas-spleen meridian its title, the mediator. The pancreas-spleen meridian shows us the beauty in the world and allows us to see the magical connection between all plants, animals, and humans. They communicate clearly and know intuitively how to see a problem from all perspectives. They feel deeply and are recognized by their gregarious and optimistic view of the world.
To get to know your pancreas-spleen meridian, you should start observing your connection to the world and the people in it.
How easily do you see the patterns between all living things?
What is your relationship to empathy?
Are you often the natural mediator in a tense situation?
Feeling disconnected or detached, needy, overly empathetic, or preachy can all indicate a spleen imbalance. The physical cues of a spleen imbalance include rounded shoulders compensating for a locked pelvis, postural issues from tightness in the legs, and quad injuries. Quad injuries, specifically, show up as an overused muscle- sore, exhausted, overworked- because your medial hamstrings are “offline.”
By strengthening and stretching the spleen meridian, you gain access to the part of yourself that empathizes, communicates clearly, and grasps the whole picture. You also may learn a few tricks to free up a locked pelvis, create space in your hamstrings and quads, and correct rounded shoulder posture. To understand the spleen meridian’s place in our series, we will examine it’s western medicine functions, archetypes, common imbalances, and exercises to help restore the healthy flow of our meridian.
The Pancreas & Spleen In Western Medicine
The spleen and the pancreas are joined together in our system. In western medicine, their functions are individual and each serves a specific purpose in the body. However, both systems work in tandem with the lymphatic system, circulatory system, stomach, and small intestine. While physically they may seem small, together the spleen and pancreas traverse the whole body.
The lymphatic system traverses the entire body parallel to the circulatory system. Lymph system fluid carries all sorts of substances and is one of the body’s disposal systems. The spleen works with the lymphatic system to dispose of used red blood cells and other foreign bodies from the bloodstream. The spleen stores blood and, in so doing, filters and removes bacteria and other foreign substances from it. It does this using certain white blood cells called lymphocytes and phagocytes.
The pancreas supports the digestion of fats, carbohydrates, proteins, and nucleic acid through the production of enzymes. It works in tandem with the stomach and small intestine by creating a fluid that transports partially digested food from the stomach easily through the small intestine. The pancreas also plays a crucial role in regulating blood sugar through the production of two hormones: glucagon and insulin.
Separate, the pancreas and spleen perform essential regulatory roles; but together, the pancreas-spleen meridian holds great power, one that we all need to tap into at one point or another.
The Mediator Archetype: Find The Middle Ground
Associated Archetypes: Mediator, peacemaker, angel, martyr, magical child, ambassador, diplomat
Solver of differences, locator of middle ground, open-minded, and seer of all perspectives. The pancreas-spleen is an excellent mediator. They see the connections between all things. Therefore, imbalances stem from a lack of connection or being overly involved.
The pancreas-spleen is one of two earth elements. In Traditional Chinese Medicine, earth elements are particularly important in times of transition. They keep us grounded and protected during turbulence, and allow us to bloom and grow during times of peace. However, though the spleen meridian thrives in times of peace, that does not mean they revile conflict. One of their greatest strengths is seeing both sides of an argument and mediating a compromise.
In Traditional Chinese Medicine, the spleen meridian plays a crucial role in the digestive process. It transforms food into food energy or Gu Qi. This food energy is turned into usable energy and blood, which is then transported throughout the body. Because the spleen meridian controls our energy, it stands to reason that it also has control over the strength and function of our muscles, flesh, and limbs. The spleen “lifts and holds” internal organs, promoting connectedness in the body and keeping them from prolapse.
The spleen is also home to the “Yi,” which in Traditional Chinese Medicine relates to thinking, studying, memorization, and concentration. A strong “Yi” supports mental focus, intention, determination, and drive. Ironically, sitting for a long period of time can shorten the hamstrings, leading to weakness in spleen meridian muscles. For those of you who are in school or work long hours at a desk, the spleen meridian is a good place to look for weakness. Not only because sitting for long periods could affect your muscles, but because a weak spleen meridian could mean issues with focus and concentration.
We all need the energy of this meridian to put us back in touch with the world. By using Infinity’s training system, you can reestablish balance in your muscles and give power back to your inner Mediator. Even those who feel strong in these areas may need tools to tap into the strength of the spleen meridian. Infinity’s exercises can help with that too. Use them at will to tap into the strength of your spleen when feeling disconnected, preachy, overly empathetic, or ungrounded.
Exercises for the Pancreas-Spleen
Wide-Legged Forward Fold – Seated or Standing
Forward Fold with bind through legs (sitting or standing)
Golf & The Saw: A Spleen Case Study
The Spleen Meridian is housed in your medial hamstrings. To find the medial hamstrings on your body, think about the muscles that would activate during a wide-legged seated forward fold. If you have a locked pelvis, the spleen will be of particular importance for you. A locked pelvis means that movement in the legs sorely affects the movement in the spine and is especially prominent in shoulders that compensate by rounding forward.
For our spleen meridian case study, we will examine a real-world scenario of how Infinity used the spleen meridian to improve a client’s golf swing.
Andrew owns his own business and, in his spare time, loves whipping golf balls across wide-expanses of well-manicured grass. Unfortunately, due to routine imbalances of the muscles in his lower back, Andrew was not able to golf comfortably.
After seeking the help of a chiropractor, Andrew was referred to Janet Matthies of Infinity Flexibility. After several sessions, Janet observed recurring tightness in the muscles associated with the spleen meridian. She gave him a common Pilates exercise to try called the Saw. This exercise serves to unlock the pelvis from the low back and opens up the medial hamstring muscles.
After seeing Janet and a golf swing certified physical therapist, Andrew felt good with his progress and went back to his old routine. A few months later, his back began to seize up again. He thought back to his recovery and, before his next gold game, he did the Saw exercise with almost immediate relief. That day he played the best golf game he had played in a long time.
Self-recovery is something that everyone strives for but it can be challenging to achieve without a deeper connection to the meridians. Physical ailments are not always straightforward. Sometimes they are as simple as repetitive strain to a certain muscle group, like in Andrew’s case. But other times, our emotional and mental health needs deeper analysis and a more thorough understanding of how these issues translate to the physical. This is where the real value of understanding the meridians lies. Traditional Chinese Medicine and the art of combining our mental, emotional, spiritual, and physical bodies, allow us to heal a wider scope of illness and injuries.
Practice Infinity’s exercises to create balance in your earth elements and master the transitions in your life. The stomach is the second earth element and the pancreas-spleen’s balancing meridian. Our next article will explore how to combat quad injuries, exhaustion, and addiction.