Dr. Mikio Sankey
Many of the points in Esoteric Acupuncture (EA) are the same as or are similar to acupuncture/acupressure point in Chinese, but there are some differences. The information for this article comes from several Mikio Sankey workshops I have attended as well as from his 4th book, Sea of Fire: Cosmic Fire.
This article gives you a look at why we use names rather than numbered points in EA and provides a way of looking at each point to help you understand why the esoteric patterns use these points.
What’s in a Name?
The first difference you may notice in EA is that the points are not primarily labeled by number, but by name. I graduated from an acupuncture school that taught points by the number, so this was a little strange to me at first. Even if you attended a school that taught points by the name, you might notice that the names used in EA deviate from what you learned.
Why is this? This is because our words have power. That which we speak becomes part of the permanent record, the Akashic record, and can never be unspoken. By using the Esoteric names for the points we are bringing that intention and energy into our conscious world and strengthening the healing inherent in these names.
Locating Esoteric Acupuncture Points
Put away the strings and measures you learned to use in acupuncture school. The point location you learned is a good starting point, but is by no means definitive. Esoteric Acupuncture requires you to use your intuitive senses to find the points. For me that means feeling very very lightly with the fingertips of my left hand until I feel a something. There is usually a shallow depression where the point is, but not always. I’m not being vague on purpose – I just don’t have any words for the sensation I feel that means “this is where the qi is.” Some people see a something rather than feeling a something, some people just know this is it. How you sense the qi will depend on how your intuition talks to you. It will probably be different from what others experience and that is more than ok – it’s perfect.
The most important point here is that you are feeling for qi, for the “there it is!” sensation. As you know, we all feel qi a little bit differently. When you are locating esoteric points don’t press into the skin because qi will travel to where ever you press. You are looking for where the qi is naturally around or on the point.
Needling Esoteric Points
These are some basic concepts for needling esoteric patterns. If you take the time to familiarize yourself with them before you needle your next EA pattern. If you use these suggestions you will find that the effectiveness of your EA sessions increases significantly.
There is no need to needle strongly or deeply, nor to manipulate the needles when you perform an Esoteric pattern. You don’t need to get the Da Qi either. As a matter of fact, gentle needling is more powerful than strong needling. Insert gently and only deep enough for the needle to stand up on its’ own.
Needle With Intention
Quiet your mind then concentrate on why you are needling this client with this pattern. Let your intent be clear in your mind before you insert the needle.
Needle In Order
Esoteric patterns are constructed as a kind of keycode to unlock doors. In order for the patterns to work as intended they must be inserted in order. If you realize you forgot a point in the needling sequence stop needling. Go back to the first point in the sequence, touch it and send qi to this point. Continue through the points in order until you get to the one your forgot. Now insert the point. Touch the next point in the sequence and send qi to it. Continue doing this until you get back to where you were in the pattern. (If you had already completed the pattern except for the forgotten point just do this for each point remaining in the sequence.) (1)
Needle Where You Feel Qi
Ideally, when you locate Esoteric Acupuncture points you use what you learned in school to get in the very near ballpark of the point, but then you either feel or see the Qi and put the needle in that spot even if it differs slightly from the technical location you memorized in school. I know people that can see the point even before they feel for it. I’m not one of those people. But I can run the fingertips of my left hand very lightly around the area where the point should be and I can feel a little ‘something’ that I have learned is me connecting with the Qi of the point. I place a fingertip lightly on this point, then roll it off and tap a needle into the spot.
If you can’t feel it, see it, or sense the Qi in some other manner, don’t fret over it. Just use the locations you learned in school and keep trying to feel or see the Qi. I couldn’t do it at first either. Then I could, but it didn’t work all the time. Now it’s pretty consistent unless I’m just terribly distracted, which is my cue to focus on my breath and on being in the moment.
You will find your ability develops as you work with Qi through meditation or Qigong. Anytime you are working with Qi you are also working with what yoginis call prana, so yoga practiced with a focus on your internal development will also help you develop your ability to sense Qi.
Most of the points below will feel familiar to you if you have studied acupuncture point locations, though a few do differ. Though the points are used in a non-traditional way, they still do all the stuff you studied.
Most EA points are needled on the right side first, regardless of the client’s gender, then on the left. There are a few variations to this rule of thumb which will be spelled out in the EA patterns you use.
Points on the Head and Neck
Tian Man or Celestial Fullness (also called 100 Meetings)
Tian Man (Du 20) is the point is right below your Crown Chakra, which is where you connect to your higher self, to God, to the Universe, or whatever you call your higher power.Before I can explain this adequately, let’s have a bit of Chakra Chat. There is a minor chakra (as opposed to the seven major ones most of us know) in the cranium called the Brahmaranda Chakra. There’s another minor chakra that rests on the top of the head called the Guru Chakra. The Crown Chakra, one of the major ones which most people know as the 7th Chakra, is above the Guru Chakra and doesn’t actually touch the physical body. In order to move qi up from the base of your body, the Root Chakra, all the way up through the physical body to the 7th/Crown Chakra you have to bridge the gap between the physical and the Crown Chakra. Tian Man is the site where the Kundalini energy (the qi that rises up from the base of the spine at the Root) jumps that gap.
By using this point with the intention of doing an esoteric treatment, you can help activate and balance the Crown chakra or Sahasrara. If you are a meditator of some kind and are working on your inner self (as opposed to working out, exercising, studying, working at your clinic and generally focusing on your outer self) you might also be able to activate higher energetic centers in and above the head using Tian Man. Whether this actually activates this way is up to you and the client. If you have both been working on your inner selves there is a better possibility that this will be true.
In Esoteric Acupuncture Tian Man (Du 20) is further back on the head than the way it is taught in acupuncture schools. Tian Man as taught in traditional acupuncture is at the apex of the head, which is where human connects to sky, to the cosmos. This is probably true when you are younger, but as you develop and learn to quiet your mind through meditation you learn to drop your chin to lengthen your neck. At that time in your life that spot you learned to call Du 20 seems to move slightly forward and the spot on your head that points directly to the sky is further back. You will find Tian Man somewhere near the posterior-most Sishencong point in a fairly obvious depression on the centerline of the head (i.e., still on the Du channel).
Sishencong or “Four Wisdom” (also called “Spirit Brightening”)
These four points are approximately 1 cun lateral, anterior, and posterior to Tian Man. Be sure to use the esoteric location for Tian Man when you set these points. They are usually needled anterior first, then lateral right, lateral left, and finally posterior. I visualize a triangle pointing anteriorly after setting the first 3, then a triangle pointing posteriorly after setting the last point.
The concept of double triangles runs through EA rather often and represents a fire triangle (anterior or upward) and a water triangle (posterior or downward). The balance of fire/water is a common thread you will see over and over again.
This set of points energizes the Crown chakra and the Guru Chakra. These four points plus Tian Man form a double tetrahedron.
Tian Chong or Celestial Thoroughfare (also called Celestial Surge)
You know this point as Gallbladder 9. Some texts translate Tian Chong as Celestial Hub, implying that this area allows higher spiritual energies not just to enter, but also to distribute to other areas or aspects of the client. You will find this point around the traditional location or perhaps a bit higher on the head. Feel for a depression and needle there. Gb 9 is needled on the right first, then on the left.This point is also about “inner hearing” rather than the sense of physical hearing. These points can awaken the possibility of clairaudience.
Feng Fu or Wind/Spirit Mansion
You know this point as Du 16 and is located in the traditional location (barring your intuition finding it in a slightly different spot of course). You might find a slight depression here…sometimes you will find two or three of them. Let yourself be pulled by your intuition to the point of greatest Qi and needle there. Sometimes it feels like it is pushing outward when I feel it, sometimes it feels like a depression that is trying to pull my Qi into it.
This is a Window of Heaven point and a Ghost point. It is also the entry point into the brain. This point is also called Gui Xue or Gui Lin in some texts, which translates respectively to “Ghost Hole” and “Ghost Forest.” The implication is that one can communicate with those on the spiritual plane via this point.
Feng Fu also communicates with a minor chakra called Alta Major, the pineal gland, and the pituitary gland. There is a pathway from Feng Fu to the brain and to the Brahmaranda chakra, an inner cranial chakra. (Yeah….lots more chakras than just the seven most of us know!) Qi travels this pathway when you needle Feng Fu (Du 16), which is why you often see it used in combination with Tian Man (Du 20) and Yintang. And no, it’s not likely you’ll be needling all three, but you will see several patterns that as the client to make a visualized triangular connection between these three.
If you want to know more about this very important point in EA, check out pages 231-234 in Sea of Fire – Cosmic Fire.
Tong Tian or Celestial Connection
Tong Tian (Bladder 7) is connected to Shang Xing (Du 23) in some EA patterns to make a triangular shape. Triangles are very important in esoteric acupuncture and are capable of generating strong energetic fields. This particular triangle is capable of activating the Guru Chakra, the chakra which sits between the top of the head and the Crown Chakra.
Shang Xing or Upper Star
Shang Xing (Du 23) is a major point for activating the bridge from the Brahmaranda Chakra in the cranium up to the Guru Chakra resting on top of the head.The term “upper star” refers to a shape that is created when Shang Xing is needled along with the Sishencong points.
Shen Ting, Spirit Court or Courtyard of Heaven
Shen Ting (Du 24) is another point for energizing the Brahmaranda Chakra and accessing the Crown Chakra. You will find it in several patterns in Esoteric Acupuncture including one of my favorites, the Eight Heart Gates pattern.
Ajna is a Sanskrit word which means command or summoning. It is also the name given to the 6th chakra which is often referred to as the Third Eye. This is the area associated with your intuitive ‘seeing.’This is a group of four (sometimes five) points set in a diamond pattern with point you know as Yintang at the bottom-most point of the group. This is not a traditional set of points used in TCM with the exception of the Yintang point. This grouping activates the sequence which allows the client access to their Indu Chakra, Manas Chakra, and to the Third Eye Chakra.
To locate these points you first locate Yintang. Next, measure the distance between the left and right inner canthus. Using this distance, go upward from Yintang. This is the Ajna #1 point. The Ajna #2 point is right between Yintang (referred to in Esoteric Acupuncture as Ajna #3) and Ajna #1. The two remaining points are directly above the canthi and level with Ajna #2. The point on the right is Indigo #1 and the point on the left is Indigo #2.
Tian Rong or Heaven’s Content
Tian Rong (Small Intestine 17) is a Window of Sky point. It is used in Esoteric patters along with Tian Qi in Eight Heart Gates and other EA patterns. Tian Rong is used to access the part of the heart pathway that travels to the tongue. When used as an esoteric point it can awaken the higher/spiritual aspect of the heart.
Tian Qi or Celestial Pool
Tian Qi (Ren 24) is often considered to be a heart point because of it’s association with the portion of the heart channel that opens into the underside of the tongue. It is used with Tian Rong in some patterns for this reason.
Points on the Anterior Trunk
Yuan Jian or The Source
TCM acu-geeks refer to this as Ren 17. Yuan Jian is another heart point for fairly obvious location reasons, but is more connected to the pericardium. In Esoteric Acupuncture as in old school Chinese medicine the pericardium meridian is seen as a more direct pathway to the Anahata (Heart Chakra) than the heart meridian is. Yuan Jian is the key point to activate the Anahata.
Karma Release Points
This is a 4-point grouping around the umbilicus located approximately 1/2 cun from the outer border of the umbilicus. If you arrange them as if they were numbers on a clock the top-most point would be 12:00, left and right would be 9:00 and 3:00 respectively (and they may or may not be located where Kidney 16 is – depends on the size of the belly button), and the bottom point would be at 6:00. The top-most point is referred to as The Point of Stillness. The points are needled this way:
1. Point of Stillness (12:00)
2. 9:00 point
3. 3:00 point
4. 6:00 point
These points are used to release karmic debris that came along from past lives and to harmonize and strengthen the etheric body. They have the ability to tonify the Yuan Qi and are also sister points to Sishencong. When used with these they stabilize and ground your client as the Sishencong points unlock the gateway to the Crown (Sahasrara) Chakra.
Guan Yuan or Original Gate
Guan Yuan (aka, Ren 4) strengthens the Lower Dan Tian and can activate and strengthen the Yuan Qi. It also helps to harmonize and tonify the Swadthisthana or Sacral Chakra.
Something fun to know: the Lower Dan Tian is also called the Fields of Red Elixer and Fields of Cinnabar. Cinnabar is mercury or quicksilver, a very handy but extremely toxic mineral. In ancient Chinese and Tibetan medicine this mineral, if refined correctly with the right herbs transformed from a powerful toxin to an amazing medicine. So we all start off with a raw toxin and it’s up to us to either refine ourselves into a powerful medicine for ourselves and others….or to remain toxic.
Points on the Posterior Trunk
Da Zhui – Big Vertebra or Big Hammer
Da Zhui (Du 14) activates the Vishuddha (Throat) Chakra and the pituitary gland. This point is the key gateway to connect the lower/concrete mind to the higher/abstract mind. This point also has a resonance which activates the Ajna center at the Yintang point.I think of this point as “Big Hammer” because it resonates when you needle it, activating Yintang as well as Tian Chong (Gb 9) and Tian Ting (Sj 15). Da Zhui is therefore a major hidden gateway with the capacity to help your client open up to an expanded level of consciousness, giving access to their life’s purpose as well as to the healing of their heart, mind, and body.
Tian Zong – Celestial Gathering or Heaven’s Worship
This point is also known as Small Intestine 11 in TCM school. The name Tian Zong implies that this is an area where energies from higher celestial realms enter and gather. These points are closely connected to the energies of the Anahata or Heart Chakra and there is a strong energetic connection between Tian Zong and Shen Dao (Du 11) as well.
If you have done some EA treatments and wondered what the heck SI 11 was doing in the pattern, it’s because these are also referred to as the Wing Maker Points. These are the “wings of the heart.” The Wing Maker Frequency is the gateway to multi-dimensional realities.
Shen Dao or Spirit Path
Shen Dao (Du 11), just below the spinous process of T5, is the key entrance point to the Anahata or Heart Chakra on the back of the body. There is a concept called the Jewel in the Lotus among meditators in some eastern spiritual practices.
If you’ve ever heard the mantra Om mani padme hum, a mantra associated with Avolkiteshvara who is also known as Quan Yin in Chinese culture, this is the mantra which can activate the Jewel in the Lotus, the compassion within the human heart. (Mani means jewel or bead and Padme translates to lotus flower.) Shen Dao is the point equivalent to this mantra, able to open the door to the Heart Chakra and compassion.
Shen Dao is also referred to as one of the Lower Twin Flames. You may have heard the saying , “We are not human beings having a spiritual experience; we are spiritual beings having a human experience.”(2) Completely true. So why do we exist in a physical form? To experience form and relationship. Our spiritual and human selves are represented by “twin flames” within. Seeking your twin flame is like seeking your soulmate, but rather than looking on eHarmony, you are looking for the spark of the divine, that infinite compassion within. To develop this requires time in meditation with a calm mind and connection with the divine.
Tian Ting or Celestial Hearing
San Jiao 15 or Tian Ting is a pair of points that often goes with Tian Chong/Gb 9 to create the “Upper Shaoyang Gate” which means in EA terms that one is working on both inner and outer parts of themselves. Much like the Ajna group allows one to see from within and access information that is sourced from Spirit, these points allow the client to hear that still small voice of intuition that is connected to the Divine.
There are many hourglass type shapes within Esoteric Acupuncture. Hourglass shapes could be interpreted as either a type of figure 8, reflecting infinity, or they can be seen as a four-sided pyramid viewed from directly over the capstone of the pyramid. You can also view them as a mobius strip, which has no end and no beginning, again reflecting infinity.
Mingmen or Gate of Life
Mingmen (Du 4) is one of the strong anchoring points (along with Kidney 1) and also assists in strengthening the positive aspects of Swadhisthana, the 2nd Chakra. Mingmen is also where the ‘fire’ of the body resides, which on a physical level refers to our qi and vitality. In a more esoteric sense, this is a mystic fire, the kundalini energy that resides at the base of the spine.
Mingmen is also the sister point to Shen Dao and is the other of the Lower Twin Flames. Remember learning that the heart is a fiery organ and the kidney has the mingmen fire? These two points represent the fire of the heart and the fire of the kidney mingmen – the lower twin flames. The relationship between Shen Dao and Mingmen is also one of fire (heart) and water (kidney). You will see a lot of upward and downward pointing triangles in the Esoteric Acupuncture patterns. This represents that same balance: fire and water, yang and yin, masculine and feminine.
Points on the Lower Limbs
This point is in between Bladder 40 and Kidney 10 in a depression at the popliteal crease. Weizhong activates the second chakra’s minor frequencies and is intimately connected to Mingmen. There is also a minor chakra here called the Satala Chakra which is intimately connected to the Sacral Chakra, just like Mingmen is. For this reason you will see Weizhong used in combination with Mingmen in EA patterns. When you become aware of the triangle this combination forms you see a large triangle pointing upward. Upward point triangles are fire or Heart triangle.
Yang Lingquan or Yang Tomb Spring
Not a terribly descriptive name, I hope! Yang Lingquan (Gallbladder 34) assists in clear inner hearing and has lovely effects on the Liver qi as well. Actually, you can pair this point with Yang Qi (Sj 4) as an alternate form of four gates called The Shaoyang Four Gates which works on both the lower and higher spiritual frequencies at the same time.
Cheng Shan (Bladder 57) harmonizes the energies of the Root (Muladhara) Chakra. While the lower aspects of these bilateral points work on the physical root of the body and on hemorrhoids, the higher frequencies of these points connect to Feng Fu/Du 16 to form a triangular pattern sometimes referred to as The Mountain Within the Cranium, the Brahmaranda Chakra within the cranium.
Feng Fu sits at the level of the medulla oblongata, which is connected to the Root or Muladhara Chakra. Cheng Shan is often used in conjunction with the Coccyx point at the base of the spine to strengthen and support the Muladhara Chakra.
Di Chong or Earth’s Thoroughfare
While this point is similar to Kidney 1, it’s not in the same location. Di Chong is located at the dimple on the bottom of the foot between the balls of the feet.Sometimes this point is called The Bubbling Spring in TCM, which I think is appropriate since this is a major grounding point for all of those high frequency spiritual energies you are helping to bring to the dense physical body. It can also work the other way: Di Chong can also allow the energies of the Earth to ascend into the physical body. You will see this point used in conjunction with Tian Man (Du 20) to form a grand triangle which is representative of connecting Earth to Heaven.
Points on the Upper Limbs
Shenmen or Spirit Gate
You know Shenmen as Heart 7. These points are connected to the Anahata/Heart Chakra and to the opening of this chakra at Shen Dao/Du 11. When your client is lying face down on the table and you needle these three points you have formed an upward pointing or Heart triangle. This can open the Heart Gates allowing energy to flow smoothly to the client’s Spirit or Heart path.
Yang Qi or Yang Pool
Yang Qi (San Jiao 4) can open up all yang channels, build the Wei Qi, and unblock the pathways for clairaudience.
1. Dr. Sankey used to advocate removing all needles and starting over again, but in a recent seminar (October 2013) in Boulder, Colorado he said there is no need for that if you send qi to each point in the sequence as described.
2. Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, Le Phénomène Humain (1955)