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There are many different classifications of points within Chinese medicine, some are commonly used and some less so. One of the more misunderstood classifications of points are the ‘Windows of the Heavens Points’. Unlike many of the other point classifications, these points were not explicitly discussed within classical sources. The second chapter of the Ling Shu references the ten points we now know as the ‘Windows of the Heavens Points’ but the name came much later. It was a Dr. Van Nghi who first coined the name and from him we can see the start of the theory and classifications of these points.

Though many teachers and practitioners have different views on these points and their functions it is safe to say that they generally connect them to the more spiritual functions of a persons being. The name of ‘Heaven’ denotes the connection that these points are purported to have with the mind and the term ‘window’ implies that they open the mind up to be accessed by the therapist. All I can do as a  practitioner is explain my own personal view on these points according to how I was taught as well as what I have seen in practice. They are points that I use quite often in the case of particular conditions. The ten points of the ‘Windows of the Heavens’ are as follows:

  • Lung 3 – Tian Fu (天府) – Mansion of Heaven
  • Heart Protector 1 – Tian Chi (天池) -Pool of Heaven
  • Triple Heater 16 – Tian You (天牖) – Window of Heaven
  • Small Intestine 16 – Tian Chuang (天窗) – Heavenly Window
  • Small Intestine 17 – Tian Rong (天窗) – Heavenly Manifestation
  • Large Intestine 18 – Fu Tu (扶突) – Supporting Prominence
  • Bladder 10 – Tian Zhu (天柱) – Heavens Pillar
  • Stomach 9 – Ren Ying (人迎) – Humanities Welcome
  • Ren 22 – Tian Tu (天突) – Heavenly Crevice
  • Du 16 – Feng Fu (風府) – Wind Palace

As you can see from the names, many of the points indicate their ‘Heavenly’ properties within their titles. In general, whenever Heaven is referenced it is suggesting that the point has a connection to the spirit.

In order to understand the function of the ‘Windows of the Heavens Points’ we need to understand that there are many different aspects of the body’s channel system. Most people will be familiar with the 12 organ channels but less well known is the fact that there are classically 72 channels within the body. These 72 components are as follows:

  • 12 Jing Jin (經筋) Sinew Channels
  • 12 Jing (經) Main Channels (each pertaining to an organ)
  • 12 Transverse Luo (絡) Connecting Channels
  • 12 Longtitudinal Luo (絡) Connecting Channels
  • 12 Jing Bie (經別) Divergent Channels
  • 8 Qi Jing Ba Mai (奇經八脈) Extra-Ordinary Channels
  • 3 Extra Luo (絡) Channels
  • 1 Hua Tuo (華佗) Channel

Each of these components has a specific role. In the case of the ‘Windows of the Heavens Points’ it is the 12 Jing Bie (經別) Divergent Channels that are most important. These channels have a strong relationship to the ten ‘Windows of the Heavens Points’ and opening the points will start to awaken the Qi flowing within the Divergent Channel system.

So, what do the Divergent Channels do? They have numerous roles including strengthening the interior/exterior connection between the rest of the channel system and the Zang Fu organs of the body but they also have one other key important role: This role is that they enable the body to expel emotional debris during your sleep. They are Metal elemental channels according to the Wu Xing theory and as such operate under the guidance of the Po spirit. At night, when we sleep we enable the Po to begin shedding some of the pathogenic by products which are produced by the moving Qi of the emotions each day. As we drift off the Divergent Channels open up and pass along their length negative emotional energies which would otherwise be detrimental to our health. Of course, we rarely manage this fully and so the human tendency is to hang on to many emotionally charged memories; memories that contribute to the distortion of our mental and physical health in the long run. The Po then reacts to these pathogenic elements and thus they develop more negative attachments, the Yin aspect of the Po’s spiritual function.

 When we needle the ‘Windows of the Heavens Points’ we actually lead the body towards this state that it enters each night. If we do this successfully then it is normal for patients to feel like they are entering sleep. Many of them fall asleep during the treatment and who don’t doze off report feeling drowsy or ‘spacey’ after the points use. This is because their energetic body is being instructed to go into the state that it enters each night; the state that enables the freeing up of emotional debris.

The points should be needled either alone or in combination with related spiritually useful points. They should never be combined with points utilised for more physical ailments as this negatives their use. As a rule, in acupuncture treatments the body can only handle one or two instructions at a time which is why treatments using many different points are often weak or completely useless.

Lung 3 – Tian Fu (天府) – Mansion of Heaven

The use of this point opens the body up to the ‘shedding process’. It helps the Po to begin letting go of those emotional energies it has built attachments to. In the majority of cases these relate to grief or those things have led to a ‘loss of sense of self’.

Heart Protector 1 – Tian Chi (天池) -Pool of Heaven

The use of this point enables a person to begin shedding those emotional memories relating to ‘heart-break’. Romantic pain from past lovers sticks at this point and its use helps to begin letting go of these issues.

Triple Heater 16 – Tian You (天牖) – Window of Heaven

This point opens the process of transforming spiritual pain into useful lessons. Each pain a person experiences can contain the potential for personal development and this point enables the process to begin.

Small Intestine 16 – Tian Chuang (天窗) – Heavenly Window

This is a general point for opening up the body to the process of shedding trapped emotions.

Small Intestine 17 – Tian Rong (天窗) – Heavenly Manifestation

This is a general point for opening up the body to the process of shedding trapped emotions.

Large Intestine 18 – Fu Tu (扶突) – Supporting Prominence

This point is indicated for those emotions that are trapped in the throat leading to coarse breathing. Many peoples emotional issues result in breathing problems, especially grief that needs shedding.

Bladder 10 – Tian Zhu (天柱) – Heavens Pillar

If past emotional issues have been ‘crippling’ to a person then this point can be used to help bring inner strength back to a patient.

Stomach 9 – Ren Ying (人迎) – Humanities Welcome

In many cases, a person cannot begin to vocalise past issues to another person. If their emotions are trapped and they cannot talk about such issues then this point can be used.

Ren 22 – Tian Tu (天突) – Heavenly Crevice

Emotional pain related to suppression from those close to them can be let go with assistance from this point. This is particularly from parents and the issues can go right back to childhood times.

Du 16 – Feng Fu (風府) – Wind Palace

This point tends to release very recent emotional hurt more than chronic issues. The classical terminology for this would be Wei level emotions.

This has been a very brief overview of the ‘Windows of the Heavens Points’. There is obviously a great deal more detail involved in their use and functions but this has just been an introductory article. In order for the points to be used to their full potential it is important that the therapist has developed their spirit to a high level and that the points are needled carefully and with skill. Accessing any spiritual function on a  meridian point requires a high level of control of the needle as the tip of the needle must be inserted exactly into the meridian point, a point which is often very small in size. When I use these points in my own treatments I tend to use one or two of them at the most and then combine these with the more emotional points on each channel. I insert the needle carefully with the use of the patients breath in order to fully ‘capture’ their Qi at the point of contact. In general, as a rule, the more physical the complaint the more vague and ‘rough’ you can be with the needle, the more spiritual the condition, the more refined you must be in your technique.

In time I am hoping to write a series of articles detailing the various categorisations of meridian points. This is the second article, the first being on the ‘ghost points’. In the coming months I will include more pieces on other points and their uses in acupuncture. If this short article has been helpful then please feel free to submit idea for related article suggestions in the comments below.