Think about what each of your fingers mean in society. A thumbs up is used to show approval. Our pointer fingers show us what we are talking about, or where we’re looking, when we point to something. We use our middle fingers….well…..they are most known for showing our disapproval or anger at someone or something. Our ring fingers are where our wedding rings go; a symbol of our love and commitment to someone. Pinkies can symbolize gentleness, or they can show sophistication when they are held up while drinking tea. What if I told you that simply holding your fingers could help you release unwanted emotions, and as a result, improve your overall well-being?
There is an ancient healing method known as Jin Shin Jytsu. One of the practices that this method teaches, is finger holding.
Prounounced Gin (as in the drink), Shin (as in the bone in your leg), Jit-su. Without going too deeply into things, this method of healing utilizes the placing of hands onto certain points on the body, known as “Safety Energy Locks”, to help move energy through and around the body. The idea is that, if you free the stagnant energy from these points, these meridians, then you free the body from the underlying causes of dis-ease. Again, this is a very over simplified explanation.
(If you want to learn more, I suggest starting with a book called, “The Touch of Healing” by Alice Burmeister. This book is written for the everyday user and not just for people who already know what they are doing. It’s beginner friendly.)
One practice in this healing method is using the holding of different fingers to release certain emotions and to bring the organs related to it back into balance. In Jin Shin Jytsu, each one of our fingers connect with specific emotions and a set of organs in our bodies.
Our pinkies relate to over-thinking and overexcitation; ring fingers, grief and sadness; middle fingers, anger and resentment; pointer fingers, fear and shock; and our thumbs, worry and anxiety. This is true for either hand. (Below you can download a more in-depth chart)
This is also the thought process behind mudras (Pronounced mood-ra). Mudras are ways in which we can hold our hands, that help to release emotions, evoke positive feelings, and help to stimulate the meridians in our bodies to promote overall health.
How does finger holding work?
First, identify the emotion(s) that you are feeling. Sometimes this is easy and sometimes it isn’t. If you know what emotion you’re feeling, lay the corresponding finger into your other hand,
and then close your fingers around that one finger.
Hold that finger until you feel a shift. What does that mean? How each person feels a shift within themselves is different for everyone. You could suddenly relax your shoulders, even though you may not have even realized that you were clenching them. Some people yawn really big. When things shift, you may take a deeper breath in and let out what seems like a sigh, or a longer exhale. For some, it’s just a feeling they have; things feel lighter, calmer, and more relaxed.
If you’re dealing with something heavy, you may get a large release of emotions. You can find yourself suddenly crying and not knowing why, or just feeling uncomfortable. If this happens, hold onto that finger, allow the emotion to pass without thinking too much about it, and without trying to identify it. Once it passes, you will feel a release, you will feel that shift.
When you don’t know exactly what emotion you’re feeling, no worries, just grab whichever finger you feel like you need to. You can’t get it wrong. Often our bodies, and our higher selves, know what we need more than our conscious minds do.
To do a daily cleanse, a daily check-in with yourself and your emotions:
Go through holding each finger until you feel a release. Start with your thumb (or wherever you feel drawn to start). Then move to your pointer finger, your middle finger, ring finger, and lastly, your pinky. It doesn’t have to be in this order. Do it in whatever way feels best for you. Just make sure that you eventually hold all 5 fingers at least once. Sometimes when you do this, you may feel the need to go back to a certain finger for a longer time. This is because when we release one emotion up and out, it allows others to show themselves.
We often have emotions that we bury so quickly, we don’t even realize we’ve had them. This is especially true if we are just learning to open up to our emotions and how to deal with them. It can also be true when life has been crazy and we’ve not really had the time to process things. Doing daily cleanses, like this one, can help keep those emotions cleared out.
Which organs does each finger relate to and why does finger holding work?
To go a little deeper, each one of your fingers, connects with a different set of organs. In Traditional Chinese Medicine you have two sides, yin and yang. For each organ set, there is a yin organ and a yang organ. It’s not necessary for you to know exactly which is which.
(If you do want to learn more about yin and yang in the body, the organ systems, and all of the details, I highly recommend taking the Shelton Qigong Teacher Training. It is taught from a totally beginner level. Whether you’re going to use it to teach or not, the class will help you to improve your daily life, your emotional well-being, and your health overall. You can also learn about yin and yang, the organ systems, and how they are related to our emotions in Chris Shelton’s book.)
Our pinkies are associated with the heart and the small intestine; the ring fingers with our lungs and large intestine; middle fingers with the liver and gallbladder; pointer fingers with our kidneys and bladder; and our thumbs with our stomach and spleen. (See the chart below if this gets confusing.)
Connected to each organ, is a set of negative emotions and positive emotions.
The heart/small intestine (pinky) – negative (overthinking, overexcitation, being unfocused), positive (love, gratitude); the lungs/large intestine (ring finger) – negative (sadness, grief, shame), positive (courage, inspiration); the liver/gallbladder (middle finger) – negative (anger, frustration, resentment), positive (kindness, creativity, flexibility, compassion); the kidneys/bladder (pointer finger) – negative (fear, fright, shock), positive (gentleness, wisdom); the spleen/stomach (thumb) – negative (worry, anxiety, pessimism), positive (balance, calm, centered, inner-peace).
This is why the finger holds work to help you clear emotions and to balance your body.
How do we apply finger holding to our daily lives?
You can use these finger holds to not only help you clear emotions after they’ve happened, but also to deal with feelings and emotions as they are happening.
If your heart is racing, or your blood pressure is high, hold your pinky. When you’re feeling sad about a break-up, the loss of a loved one, or in general, hold your ring finger. Say someone cuts you off in traffic, someone does something to irritate you, or you have to go to Wal-Mart and push a buggy around, hold your middle finger. (Haha, nothing against Wal-Mart, it can just be stress inducing sometimes. =)) If you are worried about an interview, an appointment, a conversation; if you’re fearful about the current state of affairs with the health scare; and/or if you can’t sleep at night because your mind is racing, hold your pointer finger. If you’re worried about something, anything, hold your thumb.
The two that I find myself holding the most are my pointer finger and my pinky. My pointer finger because sometimes I can’t get my mind to stop doing laps when I lay down at night. I hold my pinky when I find myself getting super unfocused and unable to really concentrate on any one thing.
Do you find yourself instinctively holding a certain finger sometimes?
I have found that, even when I’m not necessarily meaning to, I will hold a certain finger when certain things are going on. My doing this started before I ever learned anything about Jin Shin Jytsu. When I started reading more about the practice I thought, “huh, that’s why I do that”. Like I said, our bodies and higher selves know more than our conscious minds are aware of.
While you’re holding your fingers, take time to think about what each one means to you, what it may symbolize.
Maybe you injured one of your fingers playing a sport in high school or college, so it reminds you of that time. Do you have a scar on one of your fingers that is a reminder to be more careful? Are you one who twiddles your thumbs when you think? Maybe your hands look like your Grandmother’s did when she was your age, so you have that nice connection with her.
For me, my pointer finger on my right hand reminds me to be careful when I close car doors. This is because I almost cut it off completely when I was younger by closing it in a car door. Also, it reminds me of the puppets that my Grandmother got me to hide my bandage (after I cut it) when we rode in that year’s 4th of July parade.
I tap my middle fingers on the keyboard of the computer when I’m writing something and get a mental block. For whatever reason, this often helps to clear it.
My ring finger has the engagement ring that was my Great-Grandmother’s, and the wedding ring that my husband bought for me.
My thumb reminds me of riding the motorcycle with my husband, and wakeboarding. My husband would ask if I was having fun/doing ok when we first started riding together. I would give a thumbs up if the answer was yes. If I was getting a little tired it would only be half of a thumbs up. On the wakeboard, a thumbs up means go faster, a thumbs down means slower. If we fall, a thumbs up means we’re ok, a thumbs down means “I’m over it, pull me in.”
My pinkies remind me of all of the pinky promises I’ve made over the years. Because a pinky promise seemed to solidify a promise even more than the promise itself.
Doing this exercise can help you in two ways:
1) It will help you to identify any possible feelings or emotions that may be lingering. If every time you look at your ring finger, all you can think about is how you’re not with someone, about the someone you were with that you’re still grieving over, or about the resentments you feel towards your spouse, that is somewhere to start working. Releasing these emotions from your body and mind will allow you to move on, to feel better, and to keep from being trapped in that time energetically.
2) You can remember happy times and be grateful for them.
If all of this seems super confusing, and impossible to remember, I’ve made a chart that you can download and keep with you.
This way you can refer back to it anytime you need it. Once you do these finger holds regularly, you’ll start to remember which is which. Don’t feel like you have to remember absolutely everything. If you just remember the emotions that are associated with each finger, you’ll do yourself a lot of good.
You could also get creative with it and trace your hand on a piece of paper; like we did when we were in elementary school. Around each finger write what it represents to you, and then list the emotions that are associated with each finger. If you want to take it one step further, use the colors that are associated with each finger/emotion/organ set. Use red or pink for your pinky, white or gray for your ring finger, green for your middle finger, blue or black for your pointer finger, and yellow or orange for your thumb.
Interpret this artistically however you choose. Layer the words together somehow. Write the words tiny so that they fit into each finger, or write one large word in the respective color. Whatever your mind can imagine. Have fun with it.
(To view this chart on your mobile device, you may need to rotate the device. It smooshes it down on a phone and some tablets.)
|Thumb||Pointer Finger||Middle Finger||Ring Finger||Pinky|
|Yang Organ||Stomach||Bladder||Gallbladder||Large Intestine||Small Intestine|
|Positive Emotions||Balance, Calm, Centered, Inner-Peace||Gentleness, Wisdom||Kindness, Creativity||Courage, Inspiration||Love, Gratitude|
|Negative Emotions||Worry, Anxiety, Pessimism||Fear, Fright, Shock||Anger, Frustration, Resentment||Sadness, Grief, Shame||Overthinking, Overexcitation, Being Unfocused|
|Color||Yellow, Orange||Blue, Black||Green||White||Red, Pink|
Try it, you just might like it
There are those who would say that finger holding, and other things like this, works because of the placebo effect. We think it’s going to work, and for that reason, it does. They are partially right. Their intention isn’t, but their logic is. How we think affects our bodies overall. If we think something is going to work for us then it is much more likely to do so. Also, to these people, I would say two things: 1) don’t knock it ‘til you try it, and 2) even if it is the placebo effect…..if it works, it works.
Finger holding works for me, and has worked for many others that I’ve known. It’s not going to heal you all on its own, but when used with other modalities, it benefits us greatly. It’s not meant to replace going to see a licensed practitioner who can help you with your specific issues.
Going through this thing called life, has it’s ups and downs. Anything that we can use to help us deal with those lower points, or to keep everything in balance, is worth learning. Especially if it’s something as simple as holding your finger.