Following on from one of my previous posts talking about Acupuncture I wanted to share with you a bit about Meridians and Meridian points as these are what Acupuncturists talk about and work with.
Meridians have a long history. The Chinese discovered the meridian system approximately 3000 years ago and it has been going from strength to strength. It is a logical progression to incorporate meridians into the realm of holistic therapies and an understanding of meridians can help holistic therapists to understand the disease pathway more comprehensively.
A basic knowledge of how they work can be of enormous benefit in pinpointing problems. Meridians are an energy force that can be felt but not seen. They can be described as channels of energy, or pathways through which energy moves through the body. They have been described as containing a free-flowing, colourless, non-cellular liquid that may be partly actuated by the heart.
These meridians have been measured and mapped using modern technological methods, electronically, thematically and radioactively. With practice, they can also be felt. There are specific acupuncture points along the meridians, upon which the practices of acupuncture,
acupressure and reflexology are founded. In all these techniques, pressure is applied to specific points to clear blockages from the energy channels. These points are electromagnetic in character and consist of small, oval cells called Bonham corpuscles, which surround the capillaries in the skin, the blood vessels, and the organs throughout the body. There are some 500 points that are most frequently used by acupuncturists and therapists practising acupressure and reflexology; each point is worked upon in a definite sequence depending on the action desired.
Meridians are named by the life function with which they are associated. In most cases this name is similar to the name of a body organ with which we are familiar, for example, the liver meridian and the stomach meridian. Chinese physicians can detect imbalances in meridians by feeling the pulses, but this is a sensitive touch and it may take 10 to 20 years to develop proficiency with it.
Meridians are classified yin or yang on the basis of the direction in which they flow on the surface of the body. Meridians interconnect deep within the torso, but we work with the part that is on the surface and is accessible to touch techniques. Yang energy flows from the sun, and yang meridians run from the fingers to the face or from the face to the feet. Yin energy from the earth flows from the feet to the torso, and from the torso along the inside of the arms to the fingertips.
Since the meridian flow is actually one continuous unbroken flow, the energy flows in one definite direction, and from one meridian to another in a well-determined order. Since there is no beginning or end to this flow, the order of the meridians can be represented as a wheel. A blockage in any of the meridians will have a knock-on effect on all the other meridians.
When this energy flow in unrestricted, the body harmonises the flow to optimise body functioning. Sometimes, however, the life we lead and the abuses we heap upon our bodies cause stress, and sometimes the stress is so intense or so constant that, in effect, it overloads the circuit, and a blockage occurs this has an effect on all the other meridians.
The six main Meridians are those that actually penetrate the major body organs
- Gall Bladder
The other six meridians are situated in the arms and do not actually penetrate specific organs
- Large Intestine
- Pericardium / Circulation
- Triple Warmer / Endocrine
- Small intestine
These 12 meridians can be subdivided into six main meridians that actually penetrate the major body organs and six other meridians that are situated in the arms and do not actually penetrate specific organs.
Closer study of the meridians reveals that the six main meridians are found in the feet, specifically the toes. Thus, massaging the feet is, in actual fact, stimulating and clearing congestion in the meridians. When congestion is cleared, energy is able to flow freely and the body is able to achieve a state of balance. With the six main meridians being represented in the feet, it is no wonder that reflexology treatments often report such dramatic positive results after treatment.
The Chinese maintain that the Qi circulates in the meridians 24 times a day and 24 times a night. In a sense there is only one single meridian that goes right around the entire body (the wheel effect), but many different meridians are described according to their positions and functions. There are the 12 main meridians, which are bilateral (paired) resulting in 24 separate pathways. Each meridian is connected and related to a specific organ from which it takes its name. It is also connected to a partner meridian and an organ with which it has a specific mutual relationship.
Within our bodies the yang organs are those that are hollow and involved in absorption and discharge such as the stomach and the bladder; the yin organs are the dense, blood-filled organs such as the kidney, which regulate the body. There is constant interaction between yin and yang forces, and if the yin/yang balance between the organs is interrupted, the flow of Qi throughout the body will be affected and the person will be unwell.