xiàn (陷)

literally means “to sink, or cave in,” so this could simply refer to the locations where the local tissue ‘caves in;’ these are locations where the ‘canopy’ of wèiqì (衛氣) is somehow compromised, and does not flourish. Rather than profusing smoothly, these are locations where wèiqì (衛氣) is blocked or stagnant.
The idea of focusing our attention on caves or holes is also signified in the most common classical name for an acupuncture points — xué (穴); however, the imagery of xiàn (陷) is not exactly the same: it consists of a pitfall next to a hill; following the analysis of the imagery from Shuōwén, xiàn (陷) can be read as “from the top down;” of course, this introduces the question: From the top of what down to what?
Lightly palpating the channel complexes to find xiàn (陷) is the first diagnostic method mentioned in Língshū (1.11.5) to find stagnations of wèiqì (衛氣), where the text instructs one to use needles, so that perverse qi departs. Releasing out such stagnant wèiqì (衛氣) is vitally important; just two phrases later (Língshū 1.11.7), the text warns that if not done, then needling deeply, including into the points of the ‘primary channels’ will take perverse qì deeper, which benefits disease.

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