Tick Tock, Part Three – How to Follow the Clock of Life

Tick Tock, Part Three – How to Follow the Clock of Life

For the past couple weeks, I’ve been writing about the “Chinese Clock” – a principle from Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) whereby each of twelve internal organs has a two-hour period in the day when it’s considered to be strongest. By following this clock, we can coordinate certain activities with appropriate organs and experience better health and a sense of alignment. Also, an issue that consistently occurs at the same time of day may give a clue about the organ involved. Last week, we left off with the end of Kidney Time at 7:00 PM, and today we’ll pick it up from there.

7:00 to 9:00 PM – Pericardium Time

The pericardium is a double-layered sac that encloses and protects the heart. Perhaps it’s a bit odd that this is one of the twelve primary organs and the brain isn’t, but it speaks to the primacy of the heart in Daoist thought and TCM. The heart is so important – it must be spared damage at any cost – that it has its own “Heart Protector.”  

If the heart is the Empress living in her palace, the pericardium is the drawbridge that allows or blocks access to her. It governs intimacy. When we let someone “into” our heart, or shut them out, we’re exercising our pericardium. And when someone with access hurts us, the pericardium often takes the brunt of the blow. Such blows can damage this mechanism. A big enough trauma may lead us to adopt a policy of “No one gets in. Ever. No matter what” – sometimes excluding even ourselves. Alternatively, the pericardium may get stuck in the open position if we decide, “What’s the use? Everyone gets in. Walk all over me.”

Pericardium Time is optimal for intimacy – sexual and otherwise – with both others and yourself. If you’re in a healthy love relationship, this is a good time for a mutual lowering of drawbridges to experience a meeting of the portals of your consciousness. This is also a good time to contemplate and repair the Protector of your heart, to recognize that scars needn’t impair its function. Thank it for its service and remind it that it can still respond intelligently on a case-by-case basis to requests for intimacy.

9:00 to 11:00 PM – San Jiao Time

San Jiao means “triple warmer” and it’s the last of our four fire organs. It consists of three virtual compartments that contain and “warm” our organs. It functions as something of a communication network and thermostat – allowing the internal organs to talk to each other and keeping the internal environment comfortable. The closest physiological equivalent is our endocrine (hormonal) system, which also sets our body temperature and distributes chemical messengers.

Metaphorically, the San Jiao presides over our social behavior. It’s the social thermostat that enables us to “feel out” a situation and present ourselves in a way that’s appropriate and effective. Whereas the pericardium is a yin organ that relates to deeper, more intimate forms of communication, the San Jiao is its yang partner, governing communication on a more external level.

If your endocrine system is taxed, this would be a good time to go to sleep so all your resources can be directed toward restoring these functions. Otherwise, this time period is ideal for light social interaction, playing games, or watching something funny or heartwarming.

Next week, I’ll wrap up this series with the final three organs – gallbladder, liver, and lungs. Meanwhile, I invite you to spend the week being mindful in your moments of connection – both social and intimate. How does your presence affect the interaction? What’s possible through this union?

Be well,

Dr. Peter Borten

P.S. If you missed them you can click here to read Part One, and click here to read Part Two.  

  • Lisa Trimble
    Posted at 00:50h, 15 February Reply

    Dr Pete,
    I love the articles that you have written on TCM. I have benefited greatly from your thought.
    Lisa Trimble, LMT

    • Peter Borten
      Posted at 21:11h, 15 February Reply

      Thanks, Lisa. I’m so glad they’ve been helpful!

  • Diane
    Posted at 02:00h, 15 February Reply

    This series is one of the most interesting I’ve read in a very long time! The section about the pericardium spoke the loudest to me because I’m a feeler and take things to heart so I need to figure out how to protect my heart better emotionally. Heartache lasts a long time with me.

    • Peter Borten
      Posted at 21:13h, 15 February Reply

      I’m glad you’re enjoying it, Diane. Yes, pericardium issues are so common – even among people who aren’t really “feelers,” many of whom used to feel but don’t anymore because they made their pericardium impenetrable after being hurt. I hope your insights bring you greater freedom in this realm.

  • Laurel
    Posted at 05:35h, 26 March Reply

    It’s kind of funny, I used to always wear alligator ear rings with the jaws open wide. The story that I told about why is very similar to representation of the pericardium in your article. In my story I lived on an island with a moat full of hungry alligators. Once in awhile someone would forget and feed the alligators too much. This would allow access to the island usually resulting in me getting hurt. The ear rings were my reminder to always be wary and cautious and keep my alligators a little hungry.

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