Part Four: The Entrepreneur
The stomach meridian is the force behind the entrepreneur. Curiosity, ambition and dogged pursuit of passion are all key traits of someone with a strong stomach meridian. Inherently attracted to quality in persons, places, and things, the stomach is always chasing what’s new and exciting. Entrepreneur energy is present in those who build a car from the ground up or discover how a computer works by taking it apart and putting it back together.
To truly understand your stomach meridian you must first examine how and why you learn. Does your ambition lead you to a life-long quest or project? When learning, do you rely on others to tell you what you need to know or are you self-taught? Do you value quality over quantity?
Eastern medicine Ayurvedic studies of the stomach and its meridian have revealed the extent to which humans rely on a healthy digestive system. In Ayurveda, a person’s digestive fire or Agni determines your overall health. If your Agni is dim, your health also suffers. Strong Agni fuels a person’s passion, activity, thought, and drive. Even though we do not practice and teach Ayurveda at Infinity, we are happy to recommend some of our fellow practitioners who deal with building and maintaining Agni.
Issues with the stomach meridian usually manifest as erratic or eccentric behavior. Addiction and gambling are common imbalances faced by those with unhealthy stomach meridians. Its primary muscle group is the quadriceps. Physical cues of imbalance include exhaustion, poor digestion, slow assimilation of new ideas and foods, difficulty with public speaking, and struggling to speak up for yourself.
By strengthening and stretching the stomach meridian, you gain access to your inner entrepreneur, ambition, and passion. You also may learn how to free up a locked pelvis, create space in your hamstrings and quads, and correct rounded shoulder posture. To understand the stomach 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 Stomach in Western Medicine
Our stomach is an organ with which we are all intimately acquainted. We use our stomach every single day for food storage, break down, and digestion. While it does play a key role in our digestive system, much of the nutrient assimilation and food break down happens in the small and large intestine. The stomach is primarily a location for food storage and the initial stages of breakdown via stomach acid.
When food reaches the stomach, it secretes specific digestive enzymes based on whether we are digesting sugars, carbs, proteins, or fats. Digestion speed varies depending on what we eat and how much. For example, water takes almost no time to digest and passes directly through the stomach, while animal protein can take anywhere from two to four days.
The stomach is an area that can cause us a fair bit of discomfort. All of us have experienced some version of acid reflux, nausea, heartburn, indigestion, gas. The effects can vary in severity, but we are all familiar with the typical pain of stomach problems.
The Vagus Nerve: Tying Together The Brain & The Gut
Modern scientists have only just begun studying the symbiotic relationship between the brain and the digestive system. Our gut contains two thin layers of over 100 million nerve cells that line the digestive tract from our throat to our rectum. This “second brain” is now thought to have some influence on our mood and emotions. A healthy stomach means a healthy mind. The human brain started growing larger in response to changes in our diet, including the cooking of meat and the increased availability of food. Therefore, it makes sense that to fulfill the potential of our minds, we need to take care of our gut.
The vagus nerve is the link between the brain and our digestive system. About 10-20% of nerve cells send signals from the brain to the digestive system, but the other 80-90% send signals from the digestive system to the brain. The bacteria in our gut communicate with the brain through the vagus nerve. This study could indicate that inflammation or unhealthy bacteria from the gut could have adverse effects on our thoughts and moods. Much has yet to be discovered and testing is still underway, but the very existence of this connection proves how important a healthy diet is for our overall mental and physical health.
Low lunge (optional pillow support)
Hero’s Pose, or Reclining Hero’s Pose
The Entrepreneur in American Culture
Associated Archetypes: Entrepreneur, Mentor, Savant, Dilettante, Hedonist, Addict, Sober, Public Speaker
American culture is exceptional because of the energy of the stomach meridian. The stomach is the spirit of entrepreneurship and the American dream. While in balance, the Entrepreneur proves that anything is possible with ambition, hard work, and persistence. Strength in this meridian has created innovative businesses and a way of life that has inspired millions.
Stomach meridian weaknesses are just as extreme. The stomach meridian houses addictive and eccentric personalities. The dogged pursuit of their passions leads them down the rabbit hole. They lose sight of healthy boundaries and are prone to work themselves to the point of exhaustion. Their enthusiasm can be their downfall.
In Traditional Chinese Medicine, the stomach performs a similar function to its western medicine responsibilities. Its primary responsibility is to absorb the energy from food and fluids. It then works with the spleen to direct that energy to the lungs where it mixes with the Qi from the air we breathe.
Food energy and emotional energy are both processed in the stomach meridian. Just like hunger can indicate that we are low on food energy, it can also point a finger to emotional depletion or stress. One of the reasons people eat when they are stressed or anxious is to fill that feeling of emotional emptiness with food. Our stomach is a significant player in the management of stress and anxiety. The subtle energy from our food can affect our emotional stability, and working with the subtle energy in our body to bring balance to the meridian will have effects across our emotional, mental, and spiritual bodies.
Case Study: An Examination Of Stomach Meridian & Addiction Imbalances
Stomach meridian issues do not stop in the quadriceps and hamstrings, although they are a useful place to start. As we all know, most imbalances may begin in one place, but the repercussions are evident across our lives. One of my client’s experiences with the stomach meridian reveals the complexity of physical imbalances. Mary did not experience addiction first-hand but was surrounded by it for most of her life. Both her father and husband struggle with different types of addiction, a primary stomach meridian imbalance.
Mary wasn’t able to be true to herself because she spent most of her time adjusting to what her father and husband required of her. Her needs came second through no fault of her own. The addiction struggles of her father and husband began to affect Mary’s professional life as well as her fitness. She found that she could not speak up at work even when her ideas were called into question. Her communication skills were compromised by her inability to speak her mind at home. A previous lover of spin classes, Mary struggled to make it through an hour on her bike. The burning in her quads was an indication of her long-standing exhaustion.
By working with Infinity Flexibility on her quadriceps and strengthening her muscles in spin class, Mary was able to build strength back up in her legs and regain confidence in her speech. It was not until Mary confronted the imbalances in her personal life that she experienced relief physically and professionally. The whole process helped Mary learn more about herself and her body.
This situation is an example of how many factors can lead to meridian imbalances. It also shows how complex it can be to diagnose the root of a physical, mental, emotional, or spiritual problem. The meridians allow us to explore the whole scope of human physicality, emotion, thought, and spirituality. They tie issues like addiction and lack of communication to a physical location in the body, in this case, the quadriceps.
We often think that physical imbalances must have physical origins, or emotional imbalances must have emotional causes, but our bodies are much more complicated than that. The meridians provide us with a sort of map to these issues so that we are not wholly in the dark when we finally strikeout to improve them.
The fire meridians are next in our series. The heart and small intestine represent love and creativity. Fire energy is necessary for transformation. Out of the fire comes true and lasting change. Their season is the summer when the sun is high and growing season is at its peak, but their energy pervades even the depths of winter when the coals are burning low in the hearth. Keep reading to learn more about the heart/small intestine and their role in manifesting joy/creativity and dealing with anger/depression.