The Heart Protector – The Emperor’s Gatekeeper

The Heart Protector – The Emperor’s Gatekeeper

Protecting the Heart from Insult and Injury

In Traditional Five Element Acupuncture the Heart is the Emperor of the body, mind and spirit. The Heart has an outer aspect, a gatekeeper, called the Heart Protector or Pericardium.  The Heart Protector opens and closes the gates, controlling access to the Heart Emperor. The physical heart, too, is a place of chambers and gates – ventricles, atria, and valves.  The Emperor resides within the inner chambers, and the Protector opens and closes the gates. The Heart Protector acts as an ambassador, taking charge of all the other parts of the body to pass on the Spirit of the Heart – this Qi, fuels life granted by the power of the Heart, is set in motion by the heartbeat and by the rhythm of the Lungs. It is present wherever any kind of exchange takes place.

In Five Element acupuncture, when we wish to treat the Heart, we respectfully go first to the gatekeeper, Heart Protector. 

The Heart Protector is both gatekeeper and communicator, governing the circulation of blood and energy. Circulation is a means of communication throughout the body. On a physical level, blood circulation spreads nutrients and warmth throughout the body. Beyond the physical level, circulation spreads the warmth and nourishment of the Fire Element within, the energy of unconditional love.  When the Heart Emperor rules impartially, every part of the human being is nourished and bathed in warmth. The Heart’s presence is felt simply through the joy of unconditional love.

Heart Rhythm – Stillness and Movement

Proper circulation requires rhythm and balance, like a piece of music.  Between the notes is a stillness that makes the music. In the rhythmic beating of the Heart, there is a stillness within, to maintain order in the body, the rhythm must be steady.  For example, if your physical heart rate suddenly changes, your blood pressure may drop and you may faint which can be brought on by sudden emotional shock.  It’s no surprise that heart conditions are related to anxiety.

Studies have shown important implications for the treatment of trauma, PTSD, anxiety, and other disorders of emotional regulation. Perhaps this is a way of saying that the spirits scatter when the Heart Emperor is agitated, and a calm Heart gives the spirits a safe place to rest.

Research on acupuncture for Atrial fibrillation suggests that acupuncture treatment on the Heart Protector can be beneficial for regulating the rhythm of the Heart, and perhaps even helping to regenerate heart tissue.

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