Gates exist in myriad forms. They feature in many cultural traditions and serve numerous different purposes. They provide a division between one area and another.
Some exist only in the imagination or in virtual realities, such as the gates or portals in stories and computer games that bring us to other worlds. Others may form part of the natural landscape; they are usually structures created by man, forming a pathway or a barrier between spaces.
The traditional Torii gate is symbolic to the Shinto tradition of Japan. It marks the transition between the human world and the sacred space of the temple. Beyond the entrance is a safe and natural space. Even in the centre of densely populated cities, stepping through the gate leads you into a space clearly different from the bustling street: a place of quiet retreat in a busy world.
In our lives, we will find ourselves walking through many gates – both entrances and exits – and we will experience transitions and transformations as we negotiate them. Some of these gates will be easier to get through than others. Some we will be able to open ourselves. Others will be opened for us, and some we will be able to hop over.
However, others will not immediately be open to us, and we may need to meet certain criteria to enter or leave. In ancient mythologies and modern gaming alike, there is usually a formal challenge that will have to be completed to pass through these virtual or imagined gates. Getting to the next level is seen as a skill: how do we unlock these gates, and who or what is the key?
Acupuncture treatment can often act as a gateway from the stress and strain of the everyday. While all of the acupuncture points in the body could be considered as gates through which energy or Qi moves, there are a number of specific points and sets of points that provide the key to unlock gateways for the movement of energy in the body.
Shen Men – ‘Divine Gate’ or ‘Spirit Gate’ – is an acupuncture point used to help the restless mind. If our mind is wandering and cannot find a place to rest, we will experience anxiety, stress and sleep loss. This point will open the gate to allow the mind to rest.
And when we are under stress, we may experience symptoms of irritability, anger and frustration that form part of a pattern known as ‘Liver Qi Stagnation’. The point combination known as ‘The Four Gates’ provides the key to unlocking and allowing the free flow of Qi, restoring harmony to the body.