Every year since 2011, I join the Short-Term Leave Home Program for 10 - 14 days in California. All participants must shave their heads and become either nuns or monks. Our day starts from 6am until 9pm include bowing, chanting, Taichi, meditation, and a featured practice. This year it was the Great Compassion Mantra, a practice for the Healing Mandala at the World Peace Gathering 2017. We were at Camp Buckhorn in Idyllwild, California which is about 7,000 ft above the sea level.
The weather on the first day was a perfect around 66°F, but then it dropped down to 29°F the next day. People began to have early cold symptoms of sneezing, and running nose. You can’t meditate when you are sneezing, sniffling or congested. Our medical team brought along medicine for pain, vitamin C, cough drops, and Tylenol Cold & Flu. Taking Tylenol Cold & Flu daytime will help with the cold symptoms, but it is still drowsy, and many find it difficult to stay awake during the 1-hour meditation. With or without the medications, they were unable to meditate effectively.
In Traditional Chinese Medicine, getting a cold is termed Exterior Wind Cold Invasion. To treat this, one must expel the cold. This is why soaking your feet in hot water is very helpful when you have a cold. The image of meditating with a bucket of hot water under your feet is not quite zen and the water would turn cold in 10 minutes. I was thinking there must be other heat sources to push the coldness out of the body. A lightbulb moment came when I visited the medical room. I saw the Salonpas patches which are normally used for pain. I was thinking of why I didn’t put them at the specific acupuncture points. An unfortunate friend was blowing her nose nearby and I offered her a quick fix treatment. She felt warm instantly. A few hours later, I checked in with her and she happily informed me that she no longer has running nose. This solution spreads quickly and the meditation room is quiet once again.
In the early stage of a cold and you start to have running nose with white loose mucus, then you can try this method. The effect will not be as strong if you waited too long. You will need 3 Salonpas patches. One will go on Da Zhui(Du14) and each of two will go on Feng Men (BL-12) and Fei Shu (BL13) for both sides of your spine.
Da Zhui (Great Hammer) - Du14 is a special point where all the Yang meridians meet. Among its many indications, it is the most important point for releasing the Exterior and treat cold and flu. It's located just below the spinous process of the 7th cervical vertebra(C7) approximately at the level of the shoulder. To locate C7, find the most prominent spinous bone on the back of the neck(C7), put your middle finger on that bone and your index finger on the bone below that (T1). Rotate your neck. The bone on your index finger should not move and the bone above that is C7.
Feng Men (BL-12) which literally translate to Wind Gate. Main point to use for early stages of wind-cold conditions (Common cold, cough, fever, headache, stiff neck). It's located at the level of lower border of the 2nd thoracic vertebra (T2). Half way between the edge of the shoulder blade and the spine and usually on top of the spinae erectus muscle. To locate T2, palpate down 1 vertebrae from T1 above.
Fei Shu (BL13) which literally translate to Lung Shu. An important point for enhancing lung functions and regulate lung qi. It's located at the level of lower border of the 3rd thoracic vertebra. Half way between the edge of the shoulder blade and the spine and usually on top of the spinae erectus muscle. To locate T3, palpate down 2 vertebrae from T1 above. As you see the locations BL12 and BL13, one patch can cover both points.
The patches will stay on for at least 6 - 8 hours. If you apply them as early as your symptoms started, you only need to do it once. If after between 12 hours to 24 hours, you will need to do it twice. If more than 24 hours, the result will not be great.