The Gall Bladder is the decision-maker of the body, helping us pivot from side to side. So what happens when your gallbladder is removed?? Luckily they can’t take the Meridian! We talk about what roles the organ and the meridian play in maintaining balance, relaxing and strengthening the psoas muscle, and how to stay curious about your body.
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Transcription by firstname.lastname@example.org
Billy & Raymond repeating:
Healing with Raymond & Billy.
Raymond: Hello everyone and welcome to “Healing with Raymond & Billy”, I’m Raymond.
Billy: I’m Billy.
Raymond: And I’m Billy’s gallbladder that was recently removed and I’m joining the conversation.
Billy: Oh my gosh! RIP.
Raymond: I didn’t tell you we were having a surprise guest today on our show, because we mentioned in another episode that Billy had a procedure this year and luckily came through it with flying colors.
Raymond: Your Gallbladder did not, unfortunately.
Billy: No we lost one.
Raymond: Your Gallbladder has crossed the river to the other side.
Billy [Singing]: Ahhhh.
Raymond: The rainbow bridge.
Billy: It sure is.
Raymond: I don’t mean that disrespectfully. I mean I really feel like we should have the amount of fondness for our organs that we do for our companion animals.
Billy: I miss it everyday, yeah.
Raymond: So, yes, I actually have a lot of … I feel like a lot of people in my life have had their Gallbladder removed recently in the past couple of years.
Billy: Yeah, it’s a trend.
Raymond: Yeah, I think also I’m middle aged and that tends to be something that happens. You’re a little young, I gotta say, for getting your Gallbladder out.
Billy: I am.
Raymond: You’re an overachiever.
Billy: I know.
Billy: I’m just so wise, that’s why.
Billy: My body was like you know what? Let’s just pop this out.
Raymond: We’re done with this. I’ve made all the decisions of my life and I’m done.
Raymond: And I’m done.
Raymond: Oh my goodness. So Gallbladder, Gallbladder meridian. So the Gallbladder in Western medicine, no wait I go to start with the location of the meridian because I feel like I’m most excited for this one, because I feel like, in some ways, it is really hard because it’s a massive meridian that starts at your head and goes all the way to your toe.
Raymond: But I feel like it’s really easy to kind of hit it with your full hand. So if you imagine, you take both your hands and you kind of start just on your temple by your eyebrow and then you almost take both hands and rub it across the side of your head like your greaser in the 50s and you’re like smoothing your head back.
Billy: Oh my god, I love it.
Raymond: Right? So you do that and you go down the back of your head and the back of your neck, because the Gallbladder kind of hits that same point where your neck and the cervix and where your skull rests lightly on top of your spine, that bladder point we talked about last episode, there’s also some Gallbladder points right next to it that are really powerful. So then it kind of goes down and we’re going to actually jump, and if you kind of put your hands underneath your armpits on your ribcage, and then just kind of shimmy down the side of your body, all down your hip, it kind of dips a little back, a little bit into your buttocks and then comes back down, just really down the sides of your leg, right? That IT band and then all the way past your knee, all the way down the sides, to the side of your ankle, and then it bends on, is it your pinky toe or is the one next to it? I can’t remember.
Billy: It’s the one next to it.
Raymond: Okay, yeah.
Billy: The ring finger of your foot.
Raymond: Your ring toe.
Raymond: Oh my god. I’m laughing because I know someone has gotten married and put rings on their toes, right? Like that has to have happened.
Billy: I’m hoping.
Raymond: I couldn’t have just thought of that, that obviously has happened. Please someone email if you got married and send photos of your toe rings, that would make me happy.
Billy: Because why not, you know?
Raymond: Why not? So the Gallbladder is right down the side of your body and it’s a channel that connects the top and the bottom. A lot of times we’ve been talking about meridians that are mostly located in the arm, or mostly located in the leg. So this is one of the few that really has big main points and main channels all the way around. It connects the front of your body with the back of your body as well. So that’s one thing I really like about the channel as far as using it as a tool in my shiatsu work. Now the Gallbladder is paired with the liver meridian and the two of them make up the wood element. So we’re going to talk about the wood element today, which I’m very excited about. We can finally talk about wood. It’s the yang organ of the pair, so liver is the yin and Gallbladder is the yang. But it’s interesting because it’s an organ that stores bile and so in Chinese medicine, most of the yang organs don’t store things, or they don’t hold things, that’s considered a little bit more of a yin characteristic. But in the case of liver and Gallbladder, the Gallbladder does actually hold onto some of the bile that helps the liver to digest, it releases it so that the liver can digest fat. So that’s one of the things from the Western perspective, the Gallbladder is really useful for. So, for some people that, after they have surgery they have to kind of change their diet a little bit, because their body might have a harder time breaking down certain fats.
Billy: Raises my hand.
Raymond: Yeah, I was like Billy would you like to talk about it? I don’t want to put you on the spot if you don’t want to talk about it.
Billy: Some people…
Raymond: I think probably most people have to change it after.
Billy: Oh yeah.
Raymond: But I don’t think … I mean there seems to be a little bit like people seem to be a little bit predisposed to Gallbladder stuff, so there’s maybe a little bit genetics, maybe a little bit of situation, probably a little bit of environment, which also includes food and what we eat. But I just wanted to be clear don’t be like, “Oh my gosh, I eat so much fatty food. I’m gonna lose my Gallbladder.”
Raymond: It’s not a one to one ratio people.
Raymond: Like it’s okay and if anything, you know, maybe you should be like “I should eat some fat, because one day I might not have my Gallbladder and I won’t be able to eat this.”
Raymond: Especially if you’re under 30, eat some fat.
Raymond: But yeah, there’s a lot of different reasons that kind of lead to it and it is a very common procedure for your Gallbladder to get inflamed and to have to have it taken out. But as I did to say to Billy Janes, like, they can’t take your Gallbladder meridian. They cannot extract that from your body.
Billy: And I’m holding onto that.
Raymond: What do you think about the Gallbladder meridian when it comes to your first ideas around it?
Billy: Well, beyond grief.
Raymond: Oh interesting, oh the grief of your Gallbladder!
Raymond: I was like really? Then I was like oh you didn’t mean …
Billy: I mean honestly, we talk about the Gallbladder a lot in our medicine as being kind of this pivot, because it’s on the side of your body.
Billy: It’s almost like a door like for a door jam where a door can swing, like, a door that doesn’t just close in one direction, but can swing in both directions.
Raymond: Right, the kitchen door that swings back and forth.
Billy: Yeah, totally, and that’s kind of what that Gallbladder is. The idea behind it, it’s about transitions and, you know, the ways that essentially we kind of pivot around decisions in our life or also kind of this idea of courage, which is this underlying emotion that’s tied to the Gallbladder of when we are navigating transitions, which life is just a series of transitions, how are we navigating that? So that’s very much like the energetics of the Gallbladder, from that standpoint. But then there’s also the musculoskeletal standpoint, which is like the Gallbladder is generally a place where people hold a lot of tension, so like the masseter muscle and the sides of the head, the temporalis muscles.
Raymond: A lot of like tension headaches, I feel like, are very Gallbladder related.
Billy: Totally, because you have this, you know, GB 20, which is this point that’s essentially behind your ear at the base of your skull and if you press that, that’s where a lot of tension builds up that often creates this referral pain and people are feeling pain in their eyes or on the side of their head or in their forehead, but it really is about that tension from where the trapezius muscle attaches at the base of the skull. That’s related to our next point, GB 21, which is at the shoulders where people hold a lot of their stress.
Billy: Which is also the trapezius muscle. So as you move down the body, there’s a lot more structural stuff that the Gallbladder is associated with. So it’s a really, I feel like, a very profoundly used meridian …
Billy: For all kinds of stuff, like I use it all.
Raymond: Yes, so those points that you were talking about on the shoulder, I think a good way that you can kind of reach them in gentle ways with someone’s permission, is that if they’re sitting on a chair and you’re kind of standing behind them and if you think about placing your forearms, kind of just lightly on their shoulders, so right between the end of the shoulder and between the neck, and you don’t even have to mush down, like, don’t try to press your whole body weight, but just kind of let your arms sink down into that point, and usually just, if you bend at the waist a little bit, that provides some nice, deep perpendicular pressure that most people find really nice.
Billy: Love that.
Raymond: If they’re having some sort of like, a lot of neck and shoulder tension that’s leading to headache pain and stuff like that. It’s kind of a nice way to do a little makeshift shiatsu that’s not too hard on your body, because you’re basically just kind of standing behind someone and gently leaning forward with your forearms and it provides just a lot of relief to the receiver as well. There was something else that you were talking about …
Raymond: but I can’t remember what you were talking about … Oh, decision making, yes. So that is definitely what I think about so much is, you were talking about the decision making and sort of taking a stand and so, like, I think about that phrase, “Oh, you have a lot of gall.”, like “You have a lot of courage.”
Billy: Ah, mhm.
Raymond: And so that sort of association. So we talked a little bit about, there’s this other decision making meridians, like different roles, we talked about sifting and sorting of the small intestine. But I feel like the Gallbladder is the person who announces the decision. So there’s a lot of mechanisms to sort of weigh things and figure it out and then the Gallbladder is when it finally comes down, like, “Okay, we’re going to stand in place and we’re gonna hold our boundary and this is what we’re gonna do and we’ve made this decision.” So it’s like sort of final of the actual deciding. And yeah that part about, it’s the part about pivoting in the body and the other thing, too, is that anytime people are having problems with either moving to side to side or one side of their body is having something or the other isn’t, or sometimes it might be the right side is bothering and then their left side and it keeps moving, in Chinese medicine we call that a wind pattern. If the pain is kind of moving around the body then it has a wind cause versus a heat or stagnation, for example, is just going to stay in one spot. But winds tend to be pain that radiates or moves around the body and Gallbladder channel is great for addressing that. And if I had to sort of give just like a 15 minute shiatsu session to someone, or if I had to give the same 15 minute shiatsu session to people like all day, I think I would probably do the Shao Yang meridian, which the Shao Yang is the combination of triple heater and Gallbladder. So those paired meridians, like you were saying, you said it is such a powerful meridian, you can access so many different things. And because, like I said, to start, because it connects the front and the back of the body, it connects the top and the bottom.
Raymond: Just if I had one meridian that I was gonna rebalance and infuse and do all that good stuff and trust that it would sort of radiate through the other mechanisms of the body, then Gallbladder might be it, kind of a workhorse superstar of the meridians.
Billy: You know, I have to agree with you, because, especially like the way that we use some of the Shao Yang meridians. For example, when it’s paired with the San Jiao like we talked about, with the Gallbladder, that’s also when some points are actually opening up, like this kind of belt that we have along our waist.
Billy: So that energy can flow from top to bottom.
Billy: Internally as well. So I use that combination a lot too. So I would definitely have to agree with your statement about … I feel like Gallbladder, Shao Yang, kind of always makes it into the work I do, because it’s just such an important part of connecting.
Raymond: Yeah. Is that like the girdle vessel or is it kind of different?
Billy: Yeah. So, for listeners, we have this thing called the Dai Mai, which is …
Raymond: I couldn’t remember the official name, I could only remember the girdle vessel.
Billy: Yeah, girdle vessel, it’s a good one too. Like each of our vessels actually, well most of them, have like a secondary name. So we have the Ren channel, which is one that runs up the front of the body and then that is also known as the conception vessel. Then we have, you know, the Du channel which runs up the back and that’s known as the governing channel. Then we have this one called the Dai Mai, which runs kind of as though where your natural waist is basically.
Billy: It runs across there. That one is called the girdle vessel and that one is all about, kind of, sometimes we can have restriction or constriction in the abdominal area, where things aren’t able to flow top to bottom, so you might have cold legs, but warm upper body.
Billy: You know? Just things are not flowing right in the abdomen, just go and open up that sucker up and let it flow.
Raymond: Just let it flow! Open up your belts and let it out.
Billy [Singing]: Let it flooowww
Raymond: Oh man. You know, I am a shiatsu therapist and for many years, well not for many years, I’ve lived for a while in a Buddhist temple. So I was a meditator, I was a freelance writer, I was a Shiatsu therapist. The point of all this is I wear a lot of soft, elastic waistband pants.
Raymond: And they’re all related to these careers and these callings, Right? And I don’t think that’s a mistake.
Raymond: And whenever I go back to wearing real pants, you know, and it’s not even about them not fitting, like they fit, but just because there’s still certain restrictions. So if I’m maybe sitting in a chair for awhile, like I’m at dinner, or I’m at a meeting or I’m at some place and then afterwards like I’m coming home and I’m just like “Oh, I feel so weird.” and “I feel so terrible. Am I coming down with something? Is a migraine starting?” like there’s a lot of things that I get a lot of warning flags and I’m like uh oh what’s happening.
Billy: Oh yeah.
Raymond: And then I kind of get in the house and I hydrate and I take off my pants and put on soft pants and I’m like “Oh no, I’m fine.”
Raymond: I think it was sort of, I was like, “Oh my gosh, my Girdle Vessel is being constricted.”
Raymond: Or it’s like the button is kind of pushing into some point in some sort of slightly painful way and so many of those points, like you were talking about, like these extraordinary channels, that’s the sort of broader category of some of these things that Billy was just talking about with the Governing and Conception and all that, like, yeah they’re running right down along your sternum, through your belly button down and all that, like right basically where belt buckles and all that are happening. I think we have a lot of, we have so much package around our abdomen, right?
Raymond: You know, as far as the shape of them and the softness of them and the vulnerability of them and things like that. And it kind of makes sense that we should be protective of them, because there is a lot of powerful energy happening in them, a lot of amazing organs that are very important that we have developed bones in our rib cage to protect and things like that. But there also can be a lot of, you can also develop a lot of strength and a lot of tone in the area, and not just muscle tone per se, but sort of energetic tone.
Raymond: And the ability to sort of bounce back, you know, and things like that that’s where the biggest nerve runs through that same area as well and I think that’s kind of part of it as well. I definitely, in recent years, it started with Shiatsu school when I really had to sort of pay attention to my core and my abdominal muscles because that’s where all this work originates as a bodyworker, when I say originates like when it comes from my body, I need to lead with my hara, I need to lead with my belly. It’s not about my hands or my arms, if you make the work about that, you’re gonna have repetitive strain injury after three years and have to quit. But it’s really just about, like, I move my whole body and I start with my torso. I start with, even deeper and lowe than that, what we call the Dantian, which is this energetic center that’s kind of right below the belly button. As I started to develop that work, you know, it really made me realize how underdeveloped all those muscles were and all my life I’ve had terrible balance and I kind of feel a little bit like, why didn’t anyone tell me I could fix that? Like I always thought it was just sort of like, you either have it or you don’t. Like you’re either a skateboarder or not or whatever it is with that balance and being able to hold yourself upright and that’s just something that I never developed and I always was doing some reading and reading literature around the psoas muscle, which is the muscle that on one end it connects to your spine and then on the other it kind of crosses and connects to the topic of your femur, so it’s similar to Gallbladder, it’s like a muscle that connects the top half to the bottom half.
Raymond: Like it’s kind of the only muscle, right? That crosses into those thresholds.
Billy: I believe so.
Raymond: Yeah, and it’s like our deepest abdominal muscle, but also kind of feels like our deepest low back muscle, because of where its situated and as I was doing a lot of work with PTSD recovery and healing trauma and things like that, I definitely had psoas issues and it turned out I’m not alone, that’s actually pretty common.
Raymond: In fact, I’ve even had clients have pulled psoas, I’ve actually had that a little bit too, not in a really intense way, just more like in an achy way for a couple days and it’s really strange because it kind of feels like low back pain, like maybe you’re sitting in a bad chair, but then it also is kind of weird and nauseating pain in that way, because it is so deep in the abdomen and things like that. So if you are someone who is also working through unhealed trauma or doing PTSD stuff, looking into developing your tone and being in touch with your abdomen is really powerful work.
Raymond: And sometimes stuff comes out and that’s totally normal as well and it’s not permanent, you know what I mean? Like there was a while when I was like “Oh man, am I permanently gonna have like a tired psoas?”
Billy: Right, right.
Raymond: But you can develop better senses of balance and I still, I think, on the outside, sometimes I see, one time I went hiking with a friend and it was right after a rain and so it was really muddy and it was really slippery and they were kind of laughing and they were like “Oh my gosh, you’re falling so much.” But I wasn’t really falling, I was sliding, but what I noticed was internally, I feel actually way more secure than I have in years past if I was doing this, and so even though my feet were sliding around, I never actually felt like I was out of balance per se.
Raymond: I felt sort of like my body and able to sort of move, like let my feet slide and not let that completely upend my entire sense of balance. And the Gallbladder plays into that, because those side to side movements are so good and my favorite thing to work on my balance is a balance board, or you can also use, I think it’s called a Bosu ball, which looks like a yoga ball, but its been cut into thirds and it has a flat bottom, so it’s kind of like a big squishy ball that you stand on, and I started working with this because of an ankle injury. So I was trying to strengthen up those balancing muscles, those little tiny muscles that happen after an injury that kind of go really soft, and trying to build those back up and in the process, I started to like incorporate sort of Qigong moves and things with cultivating Chi in my abs and things like that and focusing on my balance and whatnot. So balance kind of is just my favorite thing, if all I had was just a medicine ball and a balance board, like I’m good, that’s the only exercise I need.
Raymond: I wanted exercise that was not about like I’m really good at this one thing. I wanted to have variability, I wanted to be able to bounce back from things and so I think having good Gallbladder tone, energetically what that means is being able to make good decisions and state your decisions and kind of move on to the next decision. So I was kind of reading about like there’s different ways you can kind of go out of balance with your Gallbladder meridian energetically wise. One is maybe that you’re stuck and so you can’t make decisions, so you’re not making any decisions, you’re the deer frozen in the headlights as the common metaphor. But then you can also have a Gallbladder imbalance where you’re more like the rabbit in the headlights and so when a rabbit is in the headlight, it basically like darts left, darts right, darts left, darts right, you know? So it doesn’t make the decision to just go right and run and get out of the road, it’s basically so scared of the car it’s running left, right, left, right, but not actually getting out of the way of the car.
Raymond: So just thinking about like if you are having, if you are struggling with sort of an energetic or have some sort of Gallbladder thing in your body in your spirit, it can kind of manifest in either one of those ways, either you’re not making those decisions or you’re making too many decisions and you’re gonna need to just land on one and stick it and stay the course on that.
Billy: Hm, I like that.
Raymond: Um what else …
Billy: That’s really good, I like your metaphors, like how you come up with these things all the time.
Raymond: I might have stolen the deer-rabbit thing from Lonny Jarrett, I’m gonna be real.
Billy: Oh my god.
Raymond: Because I think I mentioned him in another episode. I mentioned his book, he has this book called “Nourishing Destiny” that I think I’ve referenced a couple times and I have a feeling that might be where I got that from, so even if I didn’t, I’m still gonna give credit to that book.
Billy: That’s what I’m saying.
Raymond: For no reason other than simply, also if I’m wrong I don’t want to get blamed. I don’t actually know the guy and I’m not trying to sell his books.
Raymond: I actually haven’t even finished reading it, so I can’t totally vouch for it.
Raymond: It’s gonna take me ten years, I’m reading it in small doses.
Raymond: Yeah, yeah, yeah. Most of a lot of my big textbooks are that way. I have an Applied Channel Theory book that everyone was raving about
Billy: I have that one too.
Raymond: Yeah, and they were like, “You’re gonna love it!” and I started reading it, and I was like “I thought I was smart.”, but I had to really slow down and focus on this.
Raymond: But then I’m like that’s what the rest of my life is for, you know? I think that we, kind of like I was just saying with the decision making, I see that a lot with people who are in healing and healthcare professions, they tend to kind of collect modalities and it’s like, “Do I want to be this type of healer or this type of healer?”
Raymond: And I don’t think that’s what they mean to be doing. They’re just trying to collect more tools in the toolbox, but I think you can sort of end up being put in that place where you’re spending all your time just learning the basics of a lot of tools, rather than sticking to one tool and learning what you can do with it if you really kind of deep dive.
Billy: I love what you were talking about with the psoas too, about working with trauma and stuff and I find that that is absolutely true. I think the psoas is, the word psoas comes from soul.
Raymond: Hmm. I did not know that.
Billy: Yeah and so it’s also like one of the most powerful muscles in your body.
Raymond: Oh wow.
Billy: If not the most?
Raymond: I guess, yeah, up there, probably.
Raymond: By the way, it’s spelled P-S-O-A-S and actually the full is like psoasilips …
Billy: Psoasilips or something, yeah.
Raymond: It’s psoaziliac something, like something that’s basically about the two points that connects your hip to your back. So sometimes you’ll see that full word, but psoas, I think, has taken off. Sorry to interrupt what you were talking about with the psoas. The strongest muscle of the body. The hulk of our body.
Billy: The hulk of the body.
Raymond: I cannot blame that metaphor on Lonny Jarrett.
Billy: No, you can try though! Somewhere in that book.
Raymond: I think its page 381 of “Nourishing Destiny”
Billy: I think Lonny Jarrett would be so happy about how much we’re promoting the book.
Raymond: I know right.
Raymond: Oh goodness, okay.
Billy: There’s some amazing stretches for the psoas.
Raymond: Oh yes!
Billy: That you can find on youtube.
Raymond: Are there any that you can describe for our podcast?
Billy: Yeah, there’s one that I really, really like because I have had issues with my low back and also kind of just, you know, even just functionally like with our posture when we sit at desks perhaps for your job. I don’t, but I used to, so I know about this.
Billy: Also just because it’s really powerful for helping with low back pain, is psoas stretching is really important and you can find it on youtube videos. I do one that I found from a youtube video, which has been really good for me, because I’m not necessarily one of those people who likes to do that one yoga stretch thing.
Raymond: Is it the cobra pose, where you kind of come up, or is a different one?
Billy: I think it’s called like mountain something, I don’t know. I’m not a yoga person.
Raymond: Neither am I, sorry yoga people.
Billy: Yeah sorry.
Raymond: We love you. We just don’t know the language.
Billy: Yeah, I just don’t know. But there is, basically what I do is I lay down on the ground and then I pull my legs up, I lay down on my back on the ground, pull my legs up until my feet are flat on the floor
Billy: And then I drop my knees to one side or the other.
Raymond: Oh yeah, windshield wipers! That’s what I call that move.
Billy: Yes! So I just drop them to the left and then what I do is I locate between where my belly button is and my hip bone, the front of my hip bone, you can feel it kind of, it’s the line that goes into your groin, if you go up to your side, you’ll feel like a little boney, protuberance down there. You just locate that and then halfway between your belly button and that boney little area will be kind of like the side of your rector, abdominis muscle, basically.
Billy: So if you take your fingers and you still have your legs turned to the side, you take your hand, kind of like you’re going to point your fingers down into that muscle and you just push down towards the floor and what you’re gonna feel eventually is you’re gonna feel something deep and uncomfortable and hard down there.
Raymond: I’m gonna run and do this exercise right away! It sounds terrible.
Billy: It’s horrible, because you’re basically touching your psoas.
Raymond: Right, it’s real deep in there.
Billy: It’s real deep in there and it’s gonna be kind of difficult to get in there, but once you get in there, you just breath through it and you basically just count to 60, because you’re going to be doing 60 seconds of holding and then you release and then you flip your legs the other way and do it on the other side.
Raymond: And you can also start with a really gentle version of this, just to FYI.
Billy: No, just go in!
Raymond: And I say that because, like, I know someone who was like “I need to work on psoas development.” and they went to a pilates class and they ended up pulling their psoas in a pilates class.
Billy: Oh no.
Raymond: So if you go to pilates, make sure they’re trauma informed before you go.
Raymond: That’s a warning. I mean, I’ve been to pilates and I’ve kind of loved it but it also put me in touch with my abdominal muscles in a totally different way and then I kind of was like compulsively clenching them in this way for like three days after.
Billy: Oh, huh.
Raymond: In this way that was like, “I’m really sore, but I can’t stop doing this exercise.”
Raymond: So it’s the one where they talk about thinking of your abdominal muscles as suspenders and if you’re trying to imagine like tightening up your suspenders so that you’re lifting your waist up a little bit.
Raymond: So clenching those abdominal muscles and thinking of the muscles as controlling the suspenders, that was the one that I got a little obsessed with.
Raymond: And I was like, I can’t stop, it’s so sore, but I can’t stop.
Raymond: So if you are, like you were talking about doing this thing on your back, you have your knees up, what I would do is like, if you’re gonna start pushing your knees to the left, I would take my right arm and put it out, so put it away from my body so you’re making like a T, so you’re stretching your right arm out and then I would take my left hand and put it just to the right side of my belly button, so that sort of point that Billy was talking about, but I would sort of use my whole hand. Now on my body, I have a little bit of a belly, and so I kind of like to support it, just a little bit, with that hand and then you start to move your knees down to the ground and do that same thing where you can either push down or, you can almost just kind of support the muscle as it goes. So I think it might be good as you’re tilting your legs down, to really just sort of feel the muscles moving underneath, because like I was saying before, we’re scared of our bellies, we don’t always touch our bellies, there’s a lot of things going on there. So that way you start to get a feel for like, okay, that’s skin I’m touching, that’s fat I’m touching, that’s muscle I’m touching, that maybe is intestines I’m touching, like you start to get a feel for some of your organs and things like that. Then, there’s magical stuff there, like don’t be scared, like don’t be scared of those beautiful lipids and that wonderful fat in your body and that amazing stretching skin and those soft muscles that aren’t, you know, weird, loaves of bread, you know, like those six pack abs that kind of look like a tray of rolls, you know what I’m talking about?
Billy: Oh yeah, hawaiian rolls.
Raymond:Yeah totally. Like frankly, I think those might be more fun to touch, hawaiian roll abs might be more fun to touch than the hard ones.
Raymond: But I mean, like, the thing is I actually have developed stronger core muscles, you know, in the past few years for a lot of different reasons and I still have a belly and that’s okay. You can find strength, you can have both strength and softness in your body and in fact, it’s actually probably best to have both because then you’re sort of really flexible, ready for any sort of situation, accommodate. Whether you’re stuck in the desert or you have to climb up off of a cliff.
Raymond: Okay so let me tell you. I do an ab exercise where you kind of, you know, those pieces of equipment that you use, it’s like a pull up bar, but it also has those sort of halfway up bars that you can kind of like pull yourself up by the elbows and kind of you’re lifting your knees up to your chest.
Billy: Yeah, mhm.
Raymond: That’s what I love to do. So I love that move, where I’m kind of holding myself up and you have to have pretty good shoulder and back strength muscles to be able to support your whole body weight and then I pull my knees up to my chest and I kind of do 8-10 and I rest.
Raymond: Leading up to that has been part of my process and whenever I’m doing that exercise, that’s what I’m thinking about, I’m thinking about cliffs or hanging off of the side of a building and they have to rescue themselves, it’s not your arms that are gonna do it, it’s your abs, like it’s you using all your muscles in the center of your body, pulling yourself up and then pulling your legs up, it’s not actually all the strength in your arms, so that’s why, you know, if you like to add a little bit of action movie adventure or survival mechanism games to your workout routines, like some of us do, that’s what I always think of, “I gotta work my climbing off of a cliff muscles.
Billy: That’s amazing. I can’t even do like two of those, because my back is so tight.
Raymond: Oh interesting.
Billy: It just doesn’t allow my legs to really kick up that high, so I think that’s really actually good. I’m gonna think about that.
Raymond: Think about that, yeah.
Billy: Thinking about doing that. I like that a lot.
Raymond: I use that same equipment, too, for hanging, like I can’t do a pull up to save my life, like if I had to actually do a full pull up, I could not, but I like to stretch my arms and I like to stretch my pecs, stretch my shoulders, and we don’t hang very often.
Billy: So true.
Raymond: And we especially don’t hang very often if we’re not in the, we’re not young kids, we’re not super athletes, we’re not hanging out on the playground. So it’s just a movement we don’t do. You know, you can even do it around your house. I like to do it on door frames, I like to sort of stop in door frames and I put my hands up, directly above my head or to the side, and I find my center, then I might lean forward a little bit, to kind of bring a bit of a stretch to it and things like that. Then, I always like to do twists, side to side, bringing it back to the Gallbladder. So any exercise that you can do up and down, you can also sometimes do versions where, like, even the one where I’m pulling my knees up to my chest, I might sort of do twists so I’m pulling more my right knee up and twist so I’m pulling my left knee up and things like that. I think that is really good to also make sure you’re including in all your movement work, whether it’s yoga, qigong, aerobics, weight lifting, moving around the house, like even just, you know, cleaning your house is physical labor and physical movement.
Billy: Oh yeah.
Raymond: And if you are in touch with your body and what your body is doing and really present with what your body is doing, then it functions exactly the same as a workout, that’s all a workout is, a workout is just moving your body and you’re paying attention to what your body is doing, so that you can adjust accordingly, so there’s a lot of people who go to the gym, but they’re not doing that, they’re kind of checked out and that’s a lot of times how injuries happen as well.
Raymond: I feel like with my clients, almost always with injuries, it’s two movements that do it, and I don’t mean there are two movements that do it, I mean it’s not like “Oh I bent over and came up.”, it’s always like “I bent over, then I turned.” Always sort of like a double, you know, it’s not just side to side or it’s not just up and down, they were kind of doing both, so something in that movement, there was a weakness and they pulled something.
Raymond: So that’s why, because I noticed that so much in my work, I was like, how can I prevent this in myself?
Raymond: And that’s why I got really interested in, once I started doing balancing exercises, as part of my ankle therapy and then I was kind of interested in that idea and pulled it up into my whole body and so now I always have, I always make sure I include side to side moves and twist moves, like spine twists, and you gotta be real easy, like especially if you haven’t done it in awhile. I don’t want you to go the gym and start warming up and then you start spinning back and forth and then you mess something up before you even start anywhere. So those twist moves are real, like, you can just start real slow, reaching your left arm all the way back behind your body and kind of stretch out your arms and just get it in that way and start to be aware of how the front of your body connects to the back of your body. We’re not always sort of in touch with really how we’re moving in time and space. I think we still think of ourselves as sort of brains operating a robot and the robot’s kind of just chugging along.
Raymond: Yeah, anything else with the Gallbladder that … Oh we haven’t talked about the wood element that much, just in general.
Billy: Yeah, when you were talking about the wind, which is basically the pain moving. You know, when we’re talking about these elements, like, when we were talking about spleen and stomach being of the earth element and kidney and bladder being of the water element. There’s a reason why we talk about elements, it’s because often these meridians kind of respond in the way that those elements do. You know, Gallbladder, liver, they can become rigid and you know, the way that wind moves through the trees and then these things get dry, the trees get dry and then they creak, maybe they crack and fall over, you know, maybe it’s a fire can go out throughout the woods, you know? Things like that, that’s very much kind of what this whole imagery with the elements can work with, you know, the Gallbladder and the liver, so each of, like the liver and the Gallbladder, they each tend towards certain disharmonies with their states and the Gallbladder can tend to become deficient and can tend to get stagnation in it that becomes this kind of stagnant, dampness of inflammation that ends up kind of just staying there and then can become kind of toxic to the body. Therefore, you know, talking about the inflamed Gallbladder.
Billy: But also just in the channel itself.
Raymond: Right, right.
Billy: Down the body, it can have those kinds of manifestations. A lot of our work is about dredging out some of that stuff.
Raymond: Yeah, yeah and whenever I do any sort of movement stuff, any Qigong or things like that, I love working, I do a lot of like tapping on the sides of the Gallbladder, or kind of like, what’s the word when you kinda just rub back and forth really fast when you’re starting a fire? I’m gonna do it with hands.
[Sound of Raymond rubbing his hands together]
Billy: Creating friction?
Raymond: Yeah, sort of, but is there a word for that gesture? When you’re just sort of rubbing back and forth vigorously. A vigorous rub.
Billy: A vigorous rub.
Raymond: Yeah, so I’ll sort of do some tapping and some rubbing down the sides of my ribs and then down the sides of my legs and that’s a really good way to kind of get invigorated. So what you were talking about, to get the energy moving again and figure some of that stuff out of the channel. So sometimes I like to do light tapping, like I start at my head and tapping all the way down from the top and sometimes I might do more of a like warming it up. So weird that my brain is like, I’m just sitting here doing the gesture over and over again to the microphone as if that’s gonna somehow make it verbalize.
Billy: I can feel it.
Raymond: I have a feeling y’all know what I’m talking about and I’m making too big of a deal.
Raymond: So the wood, in the element cycle, like we talked about the water, I like to think of it as the beginning of the cycle, because water feeds the wood and then the wood grows up and then the wood dries out and it leads to fire and the fire bursts out into ashes. So we talked about that sort of cycle, so wood energy is about growing, it’s about new things, like the wood time of year is spring, because that’s when new green comes out, that’s when, like Billy referenced, the plants, the trees start getting really tall and things like that. So because wood starts more damp and ends more dry, it has sort of both elements in balance, depending on the season. So in order to maintain that flexibility, it has to be able to move in the wind, so wood types tend to be pretty flexible people, they’re not quite as rigid as maybe, you know, what some people would think of as metal types. So metal is about kind of planning and making a plan and being a little bit more concrete and then wood can just be more, a little bit like “I’m busting out!”
Billy: I’m busting out!
Raymond: It’s time to go! It’s time to make these decisions. It’s time to start on this thing. And so the time of day for the Gallbladder is 11:00 PM to 1:00 AM, which that coincides with, especially people who are night owls, that’s when you get that second wind and I’m a little bit this way too, like I feel like I need to start to go to bed and wind down right at 11:00 or I’m up until 1:00. I either have to get to bed before that window starts or I just have to be resigned to the fact that I’m gonna make use of it and stay up and work on some stuff or whatever. And it’s usually not like my best work, because it’s the end of the day, but it also might be creative work, where I’m making music and stuff like that in the middle of the night. So a lot of times when I think about people who talk about being night owls or being the most productive in the evening, that probably means that they have sort of a constitutional or predisposition to strong Gallbladder energy that comes up at that time of day. Um…
[Funky Herb Music Plays]
Raymond: Are there any herbs for the Gallbladder, Billy Janes?
[Music Fades Out]
Billy: Well, I guess kind of. So …
Raymond: I was like damn you’re making your theme song so sad, it’s like “When’s my time to shine!?”
Billy: So when we edit it in post, can you like play the song and then I go “No.”
Raymond: And then I’m gonna go “Whomp, whomp”
Billy: So I guess for, you know, I think one of the things that I’ve been thinking a lot about recently is there’s this formula I use a lot called Long Dan Xie Gan Tang, which is basically it’s a bunch of different herbs for what we would call damp heat in the Gallbladder, which is basically like inflammation in the Gallbladder channel and some of the ways that that can appear, according to our medicine, are things like herpes, like herpes zosters, oral herpes, or shingles, or we would consider like based on the location of those things, to be Gallbladder.
Billy: And so, one of the herbs that’s used in it is gentian, which we all know from back in the day, or maybe we don’t, is gentian violet.
Billy: You know that one?
Raymond: I mean it sounds kind of familiar, but I didn’t know where you were going with it so. It’s spelled G-E-N-T-I-A-N.
Billy: Yeah, I-A-N.
Billy: So gentian violet is like this, you know, when you would have like a cold sore, you used to put it on the cold sore.
Raymond: Ah, okay.
Billy: And it was violet. So, anyway, I’m sure that you’re able to find gentian things out in the world, herbally at any corner, but those are something.
Raymond: At your local herbal bodega.
Billy: At your corner store.
Raymond: You know what? Some places they kind of are there, to be honest.
Billy: You know, honestly, and I live in California so it’s like very common that some things that I think would be uncommon to find all of a sudden, you’re like “Oh wow, this place has gentian.”
Raymond: Right, yeah.
Billy: How does anybody know about this? But it’s definitely something to look into and see if it would be appropriate for whatever you have going on. The way that we diagnose in herbal medicine, it’s not exactly so much, like “Oh, you have this problem, just do this.” Sometimes there are complex things that are happening, but I think if you do have concern about what we’ve been talking about today, “Oh I do think something’s off with my Gallbladder channel.”
Billy: You know? And you want to go in a certain direction, look up gentian. I think that it’s a way to learn herbs is to look at one herb and really kind of spend your time and learn about what it can do and I think gentian would be a nice way to start your herbal learning for Gallbladder stuff.
Raymond: Yeah, because it’s sort of, it’s one of the deeper organs and sort of, like I feel like the deeper you go in the body, the more kind of complicated the pattern sort of plays out, so it is like you were saying, we can’t make the same recommendations. Like, you know, with lung stuff, because it’s sort of related to maybe just surface cold and flu and general breathing health, I think we have a few more things that we can generally throw out as suggestions but like you were saying Gallbladder is a little bit different. But that also means you don’t have to worry about a Gallbladder flush.
Billy: Right! Totally.
Raymond: You see a lot of stuff for like cleanses and flushes and things like that. I mean obviously some people have had some individual results and that’s fine, but I’ve never noticed any sort of trend or I haven’t really read anything that inspired a lot of confidence in recommending that. I mean I did have one teacher that said that it could be useful for your body to take a break from eating fat once a day, I mean, not once a day, once a week or once a month, or something. So maybe you just have 24 hours where you consume like no fat at all, because then your body kind of gets to take a break and it doesn’t have to work so hard. But to be honest, I don’t know. I mean that might be something that your constitution does well with or that if you have a lot of family members that have had Gallbladder removal and it’s making you feel kind of concerned that you’re next and your Gallbladder is coming for you next. It might be something you want to consider, because it will make you feel better and make you feel a little bit more secure and in touch with what’s going on in your body. But I haven’t necessarily seen it to be this thing that I would ever recommend to someone, if that makes sense.
Billy: You know what I realized we forgot? Is that the Gallbladder is a curious organ.
Raymond: Oh! Say more.
Billy: It’s the queerest organ in your body. I don’t know, according to Chinese medicine, it’s known as the curious organ.
Raymond: The curious organ. Well if it’s cause, you know, we were kind of talking about how it stands alone. It’s kind of unique in that sense, it’s a young organ that stores something, right? So it has yin characteristics within a yang organ. It kind of has that connecting different sides of the body and things like that, connecting the deeper parts of the body with the shallow parts and whatnot. Man, the Gallbladder, let’s put it on our flag.
Billy: Yeah, that’s what I’m saying.
Raymond: The Gallbladder and the Babadook are queer culture.
Raymond: And hydration.
Billy: And hydration, oh yeah.
Raymond: Hydration, the babadook, and the Gallbladder are all gay and you can’t have them, their our’s.
Billy: I’m so into that.
Raymond: You can borrow hydration, but you can’t have it.
Billy: Yeah, that’s where my Gallbladder went, was to the queer…
Raymond: To the Queer God sacrifice to the queer altar.
Raymond: Oh my gosh, I think it’s at a club right now.
Billy: Dancing with its shirt off.
Raymond: Sipping on a cocktail with a real tiny, long straw.
Raymond: Aw, your Gallbladder seems so happy.
Billy: It’s so curious.
Raymond: I’m glad it’s moved on.
Raymond: It’s curious.
Billy: You know what? I’m glad that we really worked on my Gallbladder healing, not me healing from losing my Gallbladder, but my Gallbladder’s really found a life of its own just in the course of this podcast.
Raymond: Yeah. Well you know what, your Gallbladder is your ancestor now, right?
Raymond: I’m not even trying to be insulting. I apologize if anyone’s insulted. I take ancestors very seriously, but like, why not? I mean, why not?
Raymond: The officials of the Gallbladder have left the building.
Billy: Oh my god.
Raymond: Acupuncture jokes.
Billy: That’s great. I know, our listeners are like, huh?
Raymond: Hire us for your acupuncturist conference.
Raymond: We’ll come do the podcast live.
Billy: We’re a hit.
Raymond: That’s right. At least to ourselves. And to the wonderful people who listen to us.
Billy: We appreciate you.
Raymond: I think I, I checked the stats and I was excited to see that we have listeners in the U.K. and a couple other different countries in Europe that I’m hoping are maybe my fellow Shiatsu community, because I know there’s a lot more Shiatsu folks in Europe. So it’s really exciting to be connecting with people who are into this type of medicine all over the world. If you would like to keep in contact with us between episodes, Billy is on Instagram, I’m on Instagram. You can go to healingwithraymondandbilly.com and get all of our info there.
Billy: Mhm. That’s where it’s at.
Raymond: Email address, you can check out past episodes. All the transcripts are there as well, so if you know someone who might be interested in the podcast, but they’re not really a podcast person, send them to the website, because then they can just read our episodes.
Raymond: Okay, so Gallbladder down, next episode is the other half of the wood element, liver. Liver’s a big one. We’re gonna talk.
Billy: Oh yeah.
Raymond: It’s gonna be like a 4 hour episode.
Billy: Oh wow.
Raymond: Just kidding, but …
Billy: Like, you’re gonna be talking a long time.
Raymond: Billy’s like “I got twenty minutes tops of material.”
Raymond: But I do feel like liver plays a big part, so there will be some good fun stuff to dig into. So until next time, thank you for listening and, um, I need a sign off. What should we sign off with Billy?
Billy: Keep curious.
Raymond: Keep curious, I like that.
Raymond: Two cute, QT’s keeping curious.
Billy: Uh huh.
Raymond: Keeping curious about QT health.
Raymond: K sounds are always good for comedy.
Raymond: Alright my friend, thank you for talking to me, thank you all for listening, see you all next time.
[Vibey Outro Music Plays]
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