Skin in the Game: the Triple Heater

Skin-between: inner landscape and outer world

When people talk about SKIN in Summer, they’re usually also talking about sunscreen. There are, however, other reasons to give some thought to your largest organ during the hot months.

Summer is the only season in the TCM calendar that has four meridians – and they are all pretty hot. This year I’m focusing on the Triple Heater: aka Triple Burner &/or Triple Energiser. It is the Yang component of the second pair of Fire meridians.

As the name suggests, this meridian governs (amongst other things) our ability to take in, generate, maintain and give off energy – incl. heat energy. This energy is both supportive and protective.
Broadly speaking, this is achieved by two “systems” within and at the edge of our larger physical & energetic system.

Cooling & heating. Cleansing & protecting.

Firstly: the “Triple” in the Triple Heater

In the Zen Shiatsu / TCM system we each have our own three interior “burners”:

  • Upper – in the chest, where we take in oxygen and KI energy from the air. In addition to the energy absorbed, good breathing generates heat.
  • Middle – in the upper/mid abdomen, where we take in nutritional energy and generate heat via our digestion / absorption process.
  • Lower – in the lower abdomen & pelvic girdle, where we generate heat and build physical power through movement.

These burners work together as an internal communications network, keeping our home fires burning.

Secondly: we have our “skin”

Our skin, at first sight, is the physical boundary between what is you and what is not you. However, there is so much more to this. The visible skin is more accurately seen as the bottom, physical layer of the aura – where the physical skin transitions into the energetic skin.

Your aura, reaching outward from our sensor loaded skin, takes in all sorts of information from the environment. This is how we read the atmosphere of a room, know when we are standing too close to someone else (or vice versa) even when we can’t see them, recognize that it is time to put a jacket on, and so forth.
This is how we adapt to changing circumstances in our surroundings.

Environmental information may trigger the expansion or contraction of our aura so that we can move unnoticed through a dense crowd or make ourselves the center of attention (without shouting or taking our clothes off). This is to do with our awareness, with the degree and nature of our connection with our environment and our sensitivity to what is going on in that time and place.

An individual may have “thick” or “thin” skin in any given situation.
Similarly, they may be more or less open-minded.

Connection and communication both within our system and between our system and our environment (including other people) is a core function of the Triple Heater.

Environmental information also stimulates the opening / closing of the physical skin – allowing us to keep ourselves at an appropriate temperature. At one extreme, we have goose bumps – minimizing the skin surface and holding heat in. At the other, we sweat – relieving ourselves of both heat and toxins.

Toxins, I might add, that have been brought to the under-surface of the skin via our lymphatic system. Like the skin, this a key component of our larger immune system which also falls under the governance of the Triple Heater meridian.

Nurturing the Skin

Seen in this light, stimulating and exercising the skin – so that it stays in tone, elastic and responsive – becomes rather important. Quite apart from keeping us physically contained, the skin is one of our premier lines of defense against invasive nasties so it’s a good idea to “train” your skin to be as high-functioning as possible. Bear in mind, that healthy, fit, responsive skin supports a healthy, fit, responsive energetic aura.
Either or both of these two easy activities, if practiced regularly over time, will do wonderful things for the function and look of your skin while also enhancing your less tangible “presence”.

Skin Brushing

This is a very simple process, best done just before you shower.
Here is a routine sequenced around your three burner zones and focused on opening the skin and improving its capacity for toxin elimination.
Using a (not too stiff) ** brush:

  1. Start from the top of your head and work down – with a downward brushing motion – the head/neck/torso to the bottom of the diaphragm.
    Fan outward along the arms – down all the surfaces – to the finger tips.
  2. Return to the torso and work down the abdomen area & then the back to the top of the hip bones. Don’t forget to do the sides of your waist as well.
  3. Lastly, starting from the top of the hip bones (back & side) and the groin area, work down over the buttocks, legs, feet and toes (incl. the soles).
  4. Be sure to give your brush a good weekly wash.

** A decent sized all natural bristle brush can be found fairly easily – try Woollies or Coles.

Cold Shower Chaser

Performed at bare minimum level, the cold shower chaser is so easy that it barely merits instruction – finish your hot shower with a cold one.

Performed optimally – in Australian domestic circumstances – it’s still not particularly difficult:

  • Enjoy your hot shower,
  • Remove the hot water (entirely) from your shower mix,
  • Get your whole body under the cold and stay there
    … until it no longer feels at all cold at all
    … until your elastic skin is fully exercised and you are fully adapted and enjoying your cold shower.

Summer is a great time of year to get in the habit of closing off your shower with cold water. It becomes a bit more challenging as the weather cools but I strongly advise that you keep it up. You will find, when the weather is actually cold, that a full cold shower chaser actually leaves you feeling nice and warm.


This Summer I will be posting ideas and exercises both here and on my Facebook Page for how you can nurture your Triple Heater energy. In the meantime, why not start by getting in touch with your Triple Heater with this Zen Energy exercise.

QUICK LINKS >> Summer Resources

I would love to see you for a seasonal Shiatsu – perhaps it’s just what you need to sustain you through what is proving to be a difficult Summer. Take note, however, my website resources are also there for you to draw on – so please help yourself this Summer.

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