Meridians-Subtle Energy Pathways

MERIDIANS are subtle energy pathways that have been recorded in Classical Chinese texts since ancient times. In Qigong ( the practice of cultivating energy) you can sense the flow of energies in these channels. 

Meridians have many functions. They regulate and direct blood. They stimulate the flow of Qi (pronounced chi) that transmits energy to an imbalanced area. (There are various methods used: needles, pressure-points, massage, heat and cupping). Deficiency or stagnation of Qi or blood is expressed through various signs: pain, tenderness, distention, numbness, weakness and tingling along the meridian’s pathway. The channels facilitate communication between the body, mind and consciousness. There is a flow of intelligence between the various tissues (ligaments, muscles, bones, tendons, skin, sense organs, and limbs. Meridians support the “functional integrity of the whole” ( Lad, 2008). There is a rhythm to the flow of energy from Yin to Yang through the various organs at regular times within a 24 hour cycle for each system.  They nourish the body. They balance/harmonize yin and yang.  They protect us from and prevent wind, cold, dampness, dryness, heat and fire.  This is done by keeping the pathogens at bay in superficial channels instead of penetrating deeper.

There are Twelve Primary Channels; six yin and six yang. They correspond to the twelve organs. The meridians originate deep inside, but they come to the surface.

The 3 HAND Meridians (YIN) that descend are the Lung, Heart and Pericardium and run medially in the body.

The 3 HAND Meridians (YANG) that ascend are the Large Intestine, Small Intestine and Triple Burner and run laterally in the body.

The 3 FOOT Meridians (YIN) that ascend are Spleen, Liver and Kidney and run medially in the body.

The 3 FOOT Meridians (YANG) that descend are Urinary Bladder, Gall Bladder and Stomach and run laterally in the body. 

In TCM, there are also 8 Extraordinary vessels, 12 Divergent channels, Luo Connecting Channels, 12 Sinew Regions, 12 Cutaneous Regions and Minute Collaterals to every area of the body. Ayurveda also refers to Nadis which are 72,000 channels that branch off the chakras and propagate the Qi (or Prana) throughout the body. These is far more than what can be addressed in this article. 

In Ayurveda, the Sankhya philosophy holds fundamental wholeness to be Avyakta (the unmanifest) and Purusha springs forth from it. Purusha (the conscious principle) differentiates as both Purusha and Prakruti. Purusha is primary and can exist without Prakruti. Prakruti cannot exist without Purusha. Prakruti is considered feminine and Purusha is considered male. While Yin is viewed as passive in Traditional Chinese Medicine, Prakruti is active in Ayurveda. Purusha and Prakruti are dynamic entities, but do not convert into one another. 

In TCM, Yin and Yang are the Supreme Ultimate or Oneness that choose to manifest as duality. The Unity of the Tao from Chinese philosophical texts (2500 BCE) describes Yin and Yang as the root of creation where duality is inherent: Sun/Moon; Hot/Cold; Wet/Dry; Smooth; Rough; Light/Dark etc… 

Yin is feminine, heavy, cold, soft, stable, and oily. Yang is masculine, light, hot, hard, liquid, and dry. “From the movement of unity into duality, Qi is generated.” (Lad, 2008) It is the vital life force in all things. In both traditions, cosmic unity is the source of all that is.  

Qi circulates in these two branches (Conception and Governing) listed below and distributes to the twelve primary channels.

When we are sleeping, the Qi activates in the spinal cord abundantly to nourish the brain, sexual organs and all the glands along the central line of the body. Hormone production from the pineal, pituitary and adrenal glands, as well as, testicles and ovaries are increased at night.

If there is stagnant or irregular Qi supply along the Governing Vessel, it will cause imbalance and poor health.  Rubbing clockwise over navel area increases Qi.  This increases the balance and stability of both physical and energetic body.  When we have more balance and stability we can find our physical and mental center and feel rooted. 

Tracing the meridians on our body can promote more vitality, strength and balance. Below are descriptions for you to trace the flow of these energy channels.

CONCEPTION VESSEL  YIN

This vessel is one of two branches of the same source- the other is the Governing vessel. They connect the uterus, kidneys, heart and brain. They are yin and yang and both inseparable. Conception and Governing Vessels are most important since they regulate the 12 primary channels. 

“ Trace from the pubic bone and travel to the bottom of the lower lip.”

GOVERNING VESSEL YANG

It is the main channel for the nervous system. The cells of the nervous system need Qi to function and stay alive. 

“Begin at the tip of the tailbone - the origin is the uterus or central region of the pelvis and down to the genitals -pass the anus and trace up from the anus, coccyx, sacrum, the spinal column, over the head and down to the upper lip.” 

(Acupuncture cavities are considered gateways that allow the Qi to pass between the vessels and the channels).

STOMACH MERIDIAN (7:00-9:00 a.m.) YANG

Descend from under the eyes and wrap around the jaw in front of the ears to the forehead. Go down through the eyes and neck and flare out to the collarbone. Move medially to sternum and down over the breast. Come in at the waist and down the front torso. Flare out at the knees and down the legs. Take a jag at the knees and off the second (“Air”) toe.

EARTH ELEMENT

PERICARDIUM MERIDIAN (7:00-9:00 p.m.) YIN

Begin at the lateral sides of the nipples. Ascend up over the shoulders and down inside the front of the arm to the hand and off the middle (“Fire”) finger.

FIRE ELEMENT

TRIPLE BURNER MERIDIAN (9:00-11:00 p.m.) YANG

A three part Energy system that correlates with the chakra system.

It covers the thorax, abdomen and pelvis, affecting psychological/emotional energetics.

Palms down, begin at the tip of the”water” or ring finger.  Follow through the web of the 4th pinky finger to the wrist. Ascend between the radius and ulna, through the tip of the elbow. Continue up the outside (back) of the armand move medially to the chest. Connect with the pericardium, upper burner, abdomen, middle and lower burners. Continue laterally to the collarbone and up the side of the neck. Then move around the back of the ear and split -one branch moves to forehead (gallbladder meridian) and one branch to the cheek (small intestine meridian).

FIRE ELEMENT

SPLEEN MERIDIAN (9:00-11:00 a.m.) YIN

Begin at the tip of the (“Ether”) big toe. Go up medially the inner leg, up across the groin, the stomach and through the diaphragm. Flare out at the hips and up the side of the rib cage and down the bottom of the rib cage. ( Connect with the stomach and heart meridian). 

EARTH ELEMENT

GALL BLADDER MERIDIAN (11:00 p.m.-1:00 a.m.) YANG

Begin at the outer corner of the eye, down in front of the ear lobe and over the crown of the head to the hairline.  Descend behind the ear and back up the near the temple. Follow it from the forehead above the center of the eye and move down the head to the bottom of the skull.  Continue down the neck to the shoulder. Descend along the side along the ribs to the waist and pelvic. Follow down the outside of the leg to the ankle, ending on the lateral side of the “water” or fourth toe.

WOOD ELEMENT

HEART MERIDIAN (11:00 a.m.-1:00 p.m.) YIN

Begin in the heart. Spread over the heart system, pass through the diaphragm to connect with the small intestine. Bring your attention to the lungs, then move to under the armpit andtrace down the inside of the arm and end at the tip of the “Earth” or pinky finger.

FIRE ELEMENT

SMALL INTESTINE MERIDIAN (1:00-3:00 p.m.) YANG

Begin at the tip of the little finger (“Earth”) up the posterior side of the forearm to the back of the shoulders and ending at the back of the neck/scapula. Then move over to the neck and cheek until you come to the outer corner of the eye and end at the ear.

FIRE ELEMENT

LIVER MERIDIAN (1:00-3:00 a.m.) YIN

Begin inside the big toe nail (“Ether”) and cross to the top of the foot and inside the ankle and up the inside of the leg. Pass the knee and along the inner thigh to the groin and pubic region and circulate the genitals. The meridian connects with the conception vessel in the lower abdomen. Follow the bottom of rib cage to the throat and eye and end at the crown of the head, where the meridian connects with the governing vessel. One branch circles the mouth. The other branch from within liver, reaches the lungs and starts the cycle of Qi.

WOOD ELEMENT

URINARY BLADDER MERIDIAN (3:00-5:00 p.m.) YANG

Begin at the inner portion of the eyelid and travel up and across the forehead to the back of the head and over to the crown.  Two branches form here: Follow them as they travel down the back to the sacrum along the spine. And continue up to the waist and down around the bottom of the buttocks and over to the back of the thighs. Move from behind the knee, where the two branches meet, travel between the calf along the Achilles tendon to the outside of the feet.  Move in parallel lines from the shoulder down the spine to the buttocks and knee caps. From there, move down the calves to the outside of the little toe (“Earth”).

WATER ELEMENT

LUNG MERIDIAN (3:00-5:00 a.m.) YIN

Begin deep in the solar plexus (Middle Burner) and descend to the large intestine. Move up past the stomach and diaphragm and split into both lungs. Reunite the two lines and pass up the middle of the esophagus to the throat. Divide again. Surface in the hollow region near the front of the shoulders and down along the outside of the biceps. Continue down the forearms to the wrists and base of the thumbs and end at the corner of the thumbnail (“Space”).

METAL ELEMENT

KIDNEY MERIDIAN (5:00-7:00 p.m.) YIN

Begin under the balls of the feet. Circle around the inside of the ankle bone up the inner leg and continue up the torso along the middle. Follow over the lung to just under the collarbone, next to the hollow of the throat (K-27).

WATER ELEMENT

LARGE INTESTINE MERIDIAN (5:00-7:00 a.m.) YANG

Begin at the outside corner of the index finger (“Air”) and travel between two tendons of the thumb at the wrist joint to the outer edge of the arm to the elbow. Continue to the outside of the shoulder muscle and cross the shoulder blades. Follow upward to the muscle on the side of the neck to the cheek. Pass through lower gums, over the top lip and end beside the nostrils.

METAL ELEMENT

I wish you much ENERGY!