By Jane Barthelemy.
What are the Meridians?
Ancient Chinese medicine thousands of years ago described the meridians in the body that carry Qi or life force through special channels that connect the various organs and functions. These meridians are designed to work together so that the body, mind, and spirit work together as an organic whole.
A meridian, 经络 jīngluò, is a path through which Qi or life energy flows. There are a total of 20 meridians in the body, which are seen in two classes. 1) The twelve organ meridians connect the various physical functions. 2) The Eight Extraordinary meridians precede and give rise to the organ meridians, and are of great importance in transformational work, Qigong, and alchemy practices.
Do the Meridians Have Consciousness?
Each of the 20 meridians has a specific function or domain in cultivating consciousness, health and moving through time from birth to death in a process that is seen as spiritual in nature. The Extraordinary Meridians are profound and ancestral, their influence vast and mysterious, providing foundational support to the system, each one in it’s way. The twelve organ meridians are like an organized team, each one carrying out specific tasks, playing a unique role in cooperation to support the whole system. So the answer is yes, the meridians have consciousness in that each one plays a pivotal role in balancing the health of body, mind, and spirit, ultimately to assist you in fulfilling your destiny.
The 12 Organ Meridians
There are twelve organ meridians in the body that carry Qi or energy. Each limb is traversed up and down by six channels, three Yin channels on the inside, and three Yang channels on the outside. Each meridian is a Yin Yang pair, meaning each Yin meridian is paired with its corresponding Yang meridian: the Yin Lung meridian, for example, is paired with the Yang large intestine meridian.
Qi flows in precise ways through the twelve organ meridians. First, Qi flows from the chest area downward along the three arm Yin channels (Lung, Pericardium, and Heart) to the fingers. There they connect with the three paired arm Yang channels (Large Intestine, Triple Burner and Small Intestine) flowing upward to the head. On the head they connect with their three corresponding leg Yang Channels (Stomach, Gall Bladder and Bladder) and flow down the body to the feet. In the feet they connect with their corresponding Yin channels (Spleen, Liver, Kidney) and flow up again to the chest to complete the cycle of Qi.
Lung Consciousness: Acceptance, Communication, Control, Courage, Grief, Justice, Letting go, Manifesting, Reactiveness, Receiving, Release, Surrender, Responsiveness, Suffocating, Vitality, Vulnerability.
Large Intestine Consciousness: Compulsiveness, Confusion, Control, Grief, Guilt, Hanging on, Letting go, Regret, Releasing, Rigidity, Self-poisoning, Stubbornness.
Stomach Consciousness: Assimilation, Conscious Mind, Critical, Gullible, Digestion of food, Digestion of life, Feeding, Nourishment, Groundedness, Intolerance, Open-Mindedness, Receiving, Rejection, Stability, Strength.
Spleen Consciousness: Abundance, Adaptability, Clarity, Cleansing, Confusion, Digestion, Focus, Integrity, Nourishment, Protection, Purification, Receiving, Rhythms, Self-Love, Self-worth, Subconscious Mind, Thinking, Worry.
Heart Consciousness: Acceptance, Awareness, Balance, Centeredness, Connection, Depression, Harmony, Joy, Love of Self & Others, Peace, Perception, Propriety, Protection, Respect, Sadness.
Small Intestines Consciousness: Appropriateness, Confidence, Connection, Discernment, Intellect, Joy, Knowledge, Mind, Nourishment, Sarcasm, Self-poisoning, Separation, Sorting.
Bladder Consciousness: Anger, Anxiety, Confidence, Control, Courage, Enthusiasm, Expression, Fear, Intimacy, Jealousy, Release, Resentment, Sensuality, Sexuality, Suspicion, Willpower.
Kidney Consciousness: Anxiety, Belonging, Caution, Clarity, Courage, Drive, Energy, Fear, Memory, Paranoia, Self Worth, Sensuality, Sexuality, Trust, Vitality, Willpower, Wisdom.
Pericardium Consciousness: Armoring, Love of self, Love of others, Openness, Protection, Relationship w/self & others, Self Acceptance, Self-Expression, Vulnerability.
Triple Burner Consciousness: Boundaries, Coordination, Discernment, Dogma, Friendship, Guilt, Harmony, Regulation, Relationship w/World, Stubbornness, Suspicion.
Gall Bladder Consciousness: Anger, Assertiveness, Commitment, Confidence, Courage, Decisions, Fidelity, Flexibility, Mobility, Motivation, Movement, Regulation, Release, Speaking up, Strength.
Liver Consciousness: Anger, Benevolence, Destiny, Faith, Growth, Hope, Memory, Movement, Organization, Planning, Processing, Protection, Resentment, Soul, Strength, Synthesizing, Vision.
The Eight Extraordinary Meridians
The Extraordinary Meridians are the deepest pathways of Qi in the body. They are the first channels to develop in your body, initiated at conception when the egg and sperm come together, they precede, give rise to, and support the 12 organ meridians according to our spiritual and genetic heritage. They provide a map for us to fulfill our potential, our destiny, the purpose of our life, and to convert Jing into Shen, energy into spirit, through the transmuting power of Qi.
The extraordinary meridians have important functions in the body and spirit.
1) They act as reservoirs of Qi and blood for the twelve organ meridians, filling and emptying as needed.
2) They circulate Jing or ‘essence’ around the body and they have a strong connection with the Kidneys.
3) They help circulate protective Wei Qi around the body and therefore play an important role in maintaining health.
4) They connect the twelve regular channels.
Du Mai – The Governing Vessel controls the Yang Meridians in the back, Wei Qi circulation, and Fire, to guard against external intruders. The Du channel represents our ability to break away from Yin/mother/bond to explore, rule our lives, our transformation, survival and groundedness in the world. It relates to becoming independent and taking risks.
Ren Mai – The Conception Vessel represents our deepest resources in life, and the gifts we received in very early childhood bonding with our mother. It rules the process of birthing, be it that of a child, a creative idea, or an endeavor. Ren involves bonding, nurturing, protection, and love of self.
Chong Mai – The Penetrating Vessel runs up the center of the body from Huiyin to Baihui. Then it continues up to the center of the galaxy and down deep into the Earth, if you wish. The Chong Mai represents the blueprint, inter-generational patterns, issues from abuse, and cellular memory. The Chong Mai represents our sense of self, how do I relate to myself, and am I comfortable with who I am?
Dai Mai – The Belt Meridian spirals around the body up and out in an energy cocoon of protective Wei Qi. If the Dai Mai is dysfunctional, the “belt” tightens and leads to stagnation, an energetic split between upper and lower body. The Dai Mai is a repository for unexpressed emotions and patterns that require transformation. Repression of these shadows leads to congestion of body/mind/spirit.
The Two Qiao Mai Channels – Heel Vessels represent how we merge Yin and Yang, and how we bridge these two extremes, to stand up to ourselves and to the world. The Qiao vessels are about short term issues of personality, judgment and morality. They’re about how we accept the roles we take on. The Qiao vessels arise from the heels, supporting agility and leg movement. They come up to the BL-1 point, the inner canthus (corner) of the eyes, affecting the pineal and pituitary glands.
BL-1 is also the activating point of Wei Qi, the first point activated on waking from sleep. Thus these channels affect how one’s eyes adjust to light, blood-sugar level, body temperature, blood pressure, hormones, etc.
Yang Qiao Mai – The Yang Heel Vessel rules how we stand up to the world, extend ourselves, interact with and experience the world. It represents the internalization of our interactions and how we express it back out to the world (eyes). Issues of over-emphasizing the world, and being angry at it are Yang Qiao issues. Psycho-spiritually this meridian is useful to treat people in a constant state of rebellion, Type-A personality activists, and those out to change the world. The more one rebels, the more sick we become. What we resist persists within us.
Yin Qiao Mai – The Yin Heel Vessel rules how we stand up to ourselves. It is about taking on roles with clear vision, understanding the vast potential of life. When the Yin Qiao Mai is open, we can express to the world who we really are. Our eyes both take in the world, and express out to the world who we are. We realize that the greatest gift we can offer is our true self. Psycho-spiritually, it may deal with self-trust, abandonment, depression, self-anger, and unworthiness.
The Two Wei Mai Vessels – Linking Vessels represent how we hold together through life cycles, aging, and time. They rule how we move along in life and transform either Yin or Yang as time passes.
Yang Wei Mai – The Yang Linking Vessel, The Yang Wei Mai regulates our old habits and patterns, and the release of pre-established modes of behavior that prevent us from evolving. It links and supports the Yang in the cycles of time. Its domain is about possibilities and becoming more rarified, so it is important in terminal disease. It represents the last stage of defense before the body is invaded by a pathogen, and can assist issues of illness and dying.
Yin Wei Mai – The Yin Linking Vessel is about our relationship to the past and the future, about the meaning that we give life, about our sense of purpose and validating our existence. Psycho-spiritually, this vessel is concerned with the meaning that we derive from life, and helps us to respond to life with clarity and compassion.