You may have heard of acupuncture and acupressure. They are both parts of Oriental medicine that date back to 2697 BC.
Yes, it's that old!
These are treatment options that have gained popularity in the Western countries, too, thanks to widened knowledge and open-mindedness of today's populace.
But how does such kind of treatment work?
Well, to tell you the very basics, acupuncture and pressure work to heal the body by applying a calculated amount of pressure through designated needles or the fingers on specific points (called acupoints) of the body. This is best done by professionals.
But how do they know which points to apply the pressure on?
That brings us to the concept of meridians. It has been mentioned in many old Chinese texts that acupoints lie along the meridians.
These meridians flow throughout the body, into different organs, and even criss-cross each other.
So, would you like to know how the whole system works and what is the real meaning of meridians?
In this article you will learn more about the main meridians of the body, their relationship to chakras, and ways to enhance their functions for a healthier body and mind.
Let's dive right into it.
What Are The Meridians?
Meridians are pathways that carry the subtle energy, also called "Qi" or "Prana" or life force throughout the body and the mind, reaching various organs and taking care of you physically as well as emotionally.
We all know that our physical bodies comprise various systems, such as the nervous system, the circulatory system, the respiratory system, and so on. These systems connect various organs that perform bodily functions.
Sounds good so far. But did you know that there is also a subtle body in addition to the physical body?
This subtle body cannot be seen, only perceived. It is this subtle body that controls the flow of life force.
And how does the life force flow?
That's right, through meridians. So, in essence, you may call the meridians a network of energy.
If we have to compare it with a physical aspect, you might say that it is like the nervous system, wherein various nerves are connected and carry information to different parts of the body from the brain.
Similarly, meridians carry the life force and are interconnected with each other, almost like a network of rivers.
How Do Meridians Work?
Comprehending meridians can be tricky. So, let's just go back to the example of rivers.
Imagine a river flowing through the body with a lot of tributaries and distributaries. It can permeate everything, fluids, cells, membranes, tissue, and so on.
It carries with it several things, mainly that nourish the mind and the soul as well the organs.
The tributaries flow through specific channels, and even though all channels are interlinked, a specific issue arising in a particular channel tends to remain in the channel unless it crosses over at one of the junctions.
For example, if you take the liver and the eyes to be part of the same channel, there may be a problem with the eye that affects the liver, and vice versa.
If the problem becomes huge and crosses over to another channel, which, let's say, comprises the heart, then the person may begin to experience cardiovascular illnesses, too.
And this is just the example of Qi flowing through the meridians to different parts of the body. It doesn't stop there.
Along with the body, the flowing energy also permeates the mind and affects its functioning when any of the connected channels are disturbed.
Understanding these channels requires the knowledge of acupoints, which are considered gates within the meridian network.
An acupuncturist's job is to find the issue with a particular meridian through these gates.
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What Are The Meridian Points in The Body?
There are 12 primary meridians in the body, and each of them corresponds to yin or a yang organ. Now, you're thinking, what is a yin and yang?
In traditional Chinese medicine, yin and yang are considered to be mutually opposing forces, such as heat and cold. In the human body, yin and yang organs pair up with each other to create balance. Scientifically, this balance is also known as homeostasis.
These are the 12 Primary Meridians and this is how do they pair up:
- Pair 1 - Yin: Lungs and Yang: Large Intestine
- Pair 2 - Yin: Spleen and Yang: Stomach
- Pair 3 - Yin: Heart and Yang: Small Intestine
- Pair 4 - Yin: Kidneys and Yang: Bladder
- Pair 5 - Yin: Pericardium and Yang: Triple Warmer (it is not an organ but a process that controls the body's humidity, heat, etc.)
- Pair 6 - Yin: Liver and Yang: Gall Bladder
Now, you may be wondering, how does information flow between these 6 pairs.
Here's how its works.
The yin meridians are located along the inside of the arms and the legs, while the yang meridians run along the outside of the arms and the legs. Qi begins its flow through the lungs, the heart, and the pericardium (the yin channels).
The energy then flows to the hands and connects with the yang channels of the large intestine, triple warmer, and the small intestine, and goes right up to the head.
Then it goes to the yang organs, which are the stomach, gall bladder, and bladder, and continues down the feet. From there it flows through the remaining yin organs, which are the spleen, liver, and kidney.
Lastly, the energy flows back to the first 3 yin channels located in the chest. And the cycle continues.
In addition to these primary channels, there are 8 extraordinary meridians, which store the energy, maintain its circulation, and keep homeostasis in place.
The 8 Extraordinary Meridians are:
- Du Mai – The Governing Vessel
- Ren Mai – The Conception Vessel
- Dai Mai – The Belt Meridian
- Chong Mai – The Thrusting Vessel
- Yang Qiao Mai – The Yang Heel Vessel
- Yin Qiao Mai – The Yin Heel Vessel
- Yang Wei Mai – The Yang Linking Vessel
- Yin Wei Mai – The Yin Linking Vessel
How Do Meridians and Chakras Work Together?
Alright, so now you know that meridians carry the life force or energy throughout the subtle body. But where does this energy come from?
To answer this question, we must go back to the basics involving chakras. Seven primary chakras run through the spinal column. And each of these chakras resembles a metaphysical wheel or a disc that vibrates and churns out energy.
When the chakras function properly, they align with each other and the meridians to ensure a smooth flow of this energy.
Apart from these seven chakras, there are many more that run throughout the body, mostly parallel to the meridians.
So, in essence, the life force that the main chakras bring into the body is distributed through meridians as well as the secondary chakras.
Blocked Meridian Symptoms
Qi or life force needs to flow freely through the meridians for maintaining physical, emotional, and spiritual health. Disturbances in this flow can cause acute as well as chronic health conditions.
But why would the flow be disturbed?
In an ideal world, it wouldn't. However, external factors such as stress, poor diet, injury, etc. can contribute to blockages in the meridians. As a result, the flow of energy is thrown off balance.
Is there a way to identify these blockages? Are there any symptoms?
Let's journey back to the 12 primary meridians and see what the blockage symptoms of each one feel like:
Sweating, coughing, inflammation, skin problems, and emotional issues such as feeling isolated.
Abdominal pains and emotional inability to let go of things.
Bloating, diarrhea, fatigue, loss of appetite, and muscle weakness.
Digestive issues and emotional concerns such as worry, nervousness, and lack of acceptance
Physical symptoms include palpitations, hot flashes, cold sweats, dizziness, chest pain, shortness of breath, and insomnia. Emotional symptoms include irritability, sorrow, and a lot of other psychological issues.
Poor digestion, skin problems, swollen lymph nodes, weakness in legs, and feeling cold.
Physically you may experience sexual and urinary problems, asthma, and back problems, while emotionally it can affect your ability to cope with life.
Urinary diseases, backache, and stiff shoulders form the physical symptoms while being unable to express emotions forms the emotional ones.
Red eyes, spasms in elbows, arms, and feet, and chest pain are some of the symptoms.
It encompasses several organs so the symptoms may vary, but the most common ones include hearing disabilities, breathing problems, fatigue, and urinary problems.
A wide range of physical symptoms including menstrual problems, jaundice, skin problems, joint problems, dry eyes, and headache.
Also, there may be several emotional issues such as depression, moodiness, temper, and the inability to control your life.
Symptoms include liver issues, bloating, and yellow skin or tongue.
Unblocking Your Meridians
If you've identified any of the symptoms associated with blocked meridians, you, of course, would want to correct them.
Leaving those symptoms unattended can cause the blockages to deepen further, causing more serious health issues.
There are many ways to unblock the meridians, some of which are as follows.
Acupuncture and Acupressure
As acupoints are directly placed along the meridian pathways, it is but natural that acupuncture and acupressure can help unblock a malfunctioning meridian.
When a professional applies pressure through needles or fingers, these points can communicate with the internal organs.
Regular treatment can help smoothen the flow of Qi along the blocked lines and improve the circulation of energy.
Highly skilled massage therapists are required for performing "meridians body healing" massage.
Meridian massage differs from regular massage in that it focuses on the deep tissues around specific points, mostly acupoints, and works on a person's mechanical and reflex actions.
The mechanical action is created by applying pressure on the tissues and through some stretching exercises.
The meridians then act on reflex. So, wherever the massage was performed, energy flows from there to the other connected areas, thus unblocking the pathways.
Also known as the emotional freedom technique (EFT), meridian tapping is a way to undo the emotional issues caused by a meridian blockage.
It is similar to acupressure but deals with the mind instead of the physical organs.
Simply put, you apply pressure on specific points while focusing on your emotional health issues and allow Qi to flow through the meridians more readily.
Let The Energy Flow Through Meridians
The discovery of the subtle body has upped the ante of traditional Chinese medicine, which healers of ancient times highly acclaimed.
It is now known that the subtle body runs on Qi, or life force that flows through a network of pathways called the meridians.
As meridians are responsible for maintaining the balance in your body and mind, it is not surprising that a block in any of these pathways can cause you to feel disturbed or ill.
The good news is, simple solutions such as acupressure and tapping can help unblock the meridians so that your Qi is good to go again.
But even though you can control your meridians by learning more about these unblocking techniques, it is best to let a professional deal with them.
By encouraging the flow of effective communication through your physical and subtle body, they can work with you towards an overall healthy and happy life.