Creating personal boundaries is essential to living a vibrant and truthful existence. In Traditional Chinese Medicine, each of the body’s yin organs (Heart, Kidney, Spleen, Liver and Lung) has a spiritual component called its shen. When these “shens” are in balance, the emotional body is said to be healthy.

The Kidney shen is called “zhi” and roughly translates as “the determination of the mind” or will. The zhi is strongly linked to the fulfillment of one’s original destiny or potential. With a strong and healthy “zhi”, one can accomplish one’s destiny. With a weakened zhi, that becomes hard to achieve. In the ancient text Ling Shu, it is stated “when intent (yi) becomes permanent, we speak of will (zhi).” To quote Lonny Jarret:

The kidney empowers the virtue of wisdom so that in the face of the unknown we are able to take correct action in the expenditure of resources by following our instincts rather than reacting to our fears…the kidney empowers the contender to flow with his instincts as the fight unfolds.

Nourishing Destiny by Lonny Jarret, page 185

So what is the relationship between zhi and the creation of boundaries in relationship? The integration and implementation of our Yang Zhi into our lives allows for self-determination and a clear path, whereas passive Yin Zhi leads to a meandering, undirected life. Strengthening the Yang Zhi through means such as psychotherapy, Emotional Freedom Technique and acupuncture allows us to also establish and hold boundaries in our interactions with others. Boundaries, by their very nature, require will to enforce. A boundary does no good if, once set, people are allowed to violate it. From the Nei Jing Su Wen: “The kidneys are responsible for the creation of power.” Without power, there is no will. Without will, no boundaries can be held.

Kidney 3 (Taixi) is located just anterior to the medial malliolus, in front of the Achilles’ tendon. One of its functions is to nourish Kidney yang and yin and strenghten Zhi. It is one of nine Source points for returning yang to the body. Kidney 4 (Da Zhong) is a pre-eminent point for dispelling fear and strengthening zhi. It is located slightly above Kd3, midway between Kd 3 and Kd5. As a luo-connecting point, Kd 4 has a strong effect on the emotions, particularly dispelling fear.

A combination of therapies including acupuncture, work with a mental health professional and meditation can help individuals in strengthening and maintaining healthy boundaries and dissolving the guilt that sometimes accompanies this.