Within our body Qi flows along channels called meridians. These meridians run along the surface of our body along our arms, neck, torso and legs. They also run within our body connecting our organs to each other as well as to our extremities. These meridians are located mainly in the connective tissue of our body.
By maintaining or improving the health and function of our connective tissue we can maintain or improve the ability of our meridians to transmit change or Qi.
- Electricity, Information and Change
- Stretching the Meridians and Energizing Them-The Theory
- Transmitting Information Via Tension
- Creating Separation as Well As Connection
- Changing Our Mind-Focusing On What We Want
- Stretching the Meridians-In Practice
- Learning the Meridians-the Meridian Pathways
- Meridian Summary
Electricity, Information and Change
In computer systems electricity can be used to supply power, transmit information or do both at the same time. As an example you can use the USB port on your computer to recharge the battery of an mp3 device or download more music. Whether as information, power or both electricity causes change or creates the potential for change.
Qi (or Chi) is like electricity. It causes change to occur. Like electricity Qi can be used to transmit power or information or simply as a means of creating change.
Stretching the Meridians and Energizing Them-The Theory
One possible mechanism for creating charge in the meridians is from stretching and relaxing the connective tissue of the body. It may be that the connective tissue of the body has a piezo electric quality which means that it generates charge when it undergoes a change, such as when being stretched or relaxed. Repeated stretching and relaxing of Meridian/connective tissue, may then be used to generate a relatively constant flow of change.
As an example, we might be stretching the front of the torso. In so doing we stretch the connective tissue along the front of the belly and that which spans the front of the ribcage. As the front of the body is stretched and then released, a buzzing or tingling may result. The longer we stretch and/or the deeper we stretch, the bigger the “Charge” that we then develop and subsequently release. This “charge” may stay in the connective tissue where it was generatated and/or it may release to other parts of the body.
Another possible source of energy flow could be from the contraction and relaxation of muscle tissue. Since electrical activity occurs in muscle tissue when activated and relaxed, it may be that the connective tissue within muscle tissue acts as electrical wiring to carry “charge” away from the muscle when that muscle relaxes. Thus stretching and releasing muscle, and activating and releasingmuscle tissue can both be used to “charge” or energize the body.
|Gall Bladder (green)|
Transmitting Information via Tension
Continuing with the idea that the meridians are “embedded” in the connective tissue of our body, then one other way in which these “wires” can transmit change is through tension. This tension can be supplied by our muscles contracting. It can also be supplied by the weight of our bones being allowed to sink downwards with gravity. It can be relaxed by relaxing muscles tissue and supporting relevant “bony” elements (e.g. relax the meridians of your arms by supporting your elbows on a table.)
That tension can transmit change from one part of the body to another and it can also give us information about the state that our body is in. We can learn to listen to our body so that we can sense tension or its absence. We can then respond to that information.
As an example, if we sense that our shoulders are lifted and tense we can allow our shoulders to sink down and relax. That our shoulders do relax is the feedback we need to assure us that our body has done what we asked it to. We then control our body based on what we sense.
Creating Separation as Well as Connection
As well as connecting parts of the body to each other, connective tissue also allows creates separation between parts of the body. It allows muscle fibers or muscles that are right next to each other to slide relative to each other. This “lubricating” action also takes place between the organs and between organs and the bone structure that supports them.
For example the connective tissue that separates the lungs from the ribcage allows the lungs to move relative to the ribcage. By allowing the lungs to move freely connective tissue allows the lungs and ribcage to function efficiently together to draw air into the body and push it out.
Connective tissue transmits change and it allows change to happen in such a way that some parts of the body are affective and others are not. As a further example, connective tissue attaches the bottom of the lungs and the pericardium to the diaphragm so that when the diaphragm contracts it pulls down on the lungs and the pericardium. But connective tissue also connects the top of the stomach and liver to the bottom of the diaphragm so that when the diaphram moves upwards it carries the lungs and liver with it.
By maintaining the health of our body’s connective tissue and meridians, we maintain our body’s ability to transmit change and its ability to allow change to happen.
In places where connective tissue sticks together where it shouldn’t, stretching can help to losen it. In places where connective tissue has tightened, or become in-elastic, stretching may help to restore it.
Stretching the meridian/connective tissue while relaxing muscle tissue and energizing it by activating muslce tissue we can encourage the natural flow of energy within our body. Health and Vitality can be the result.
Changing Our Mind-Focusing on What We Want to Do
One of the interesting things about stretching the connective tissue or the meridians within that connective tissue is how our state of mind can affect our flexibility.
The ability for our muscles to relax so that our connective tissue can be stretched might directly relate to how happy, fearful, worried, relaxed or present we are while stretching. (This can be true in some people, not true in others. If we are aware of our degree of flexibility and out mental health on any given day we can draw our own conclusions as to whether this is true for ourselves or not.)
In this case the meridians do truly transmit the change that we are thinking about. If we are worried, our body tightens. If we are happy, our body losens and is more flexible.
Another way in which our mind can affect our body is in our ability to get more flexible. If we believe that it is too difficult or too hard then we either won’t stretch because of that belief or we limit ourselves to stretch when we are in the process of stretching.
One possible solution is to focus on what we are trying to do instead of what we can’t do. Doing a forward bend we can focus on tilting our pelvis forwards (as opposed to focusing on how difficult it is.) We could also focus on lengthening our spine, on breathing and or moving slowly and smoothly. We can also focus on feeling our body and responding to what we sense.
Trying to lengthen our hamstrings we can focus on relaxing them so that we can stretch them, and if that doesn’t work we can focus on positioning our body in such a way so that they can relax.
Changing our mind may very well be the first step towards being more flexible as well as towards gaining sensitivity and control of our body.
Stretching the Meridians-In Practice
Meridians run along well defined lines which in places correspond to muscles or groups of muscles while in other places they correspond to “joint mobilities”-directions in which the bones that make up a joint can move.
To stretch a particular meridian we can simply focus on stretching along the line that the meridian runs. So that we can do that it can be helpful to learn the pathways of the 12 ordinary meridians. Once we know the pathway of each meridian we can figure out how to stretch it or energize it or we can analyze a posture or action to see which meridians are stretched or energized.
If a meridian crosses the front of the hip (like the stomach meridian does) then we can stretch the meridian at that location by opening the front of the hip. We can do a lunge and reach one leg back so that the front of the hip of that leg is stretched.
If a meridian runs along the length of a muscle then we can lengthen that muscle.
As an example the stomach meridian runs down the front of the leg along the rectus fermoris which attaches the front of the pelvis to the front of the knee. We can stretch this meridian and the corresponding muscle by bending the knee completely and then tilting our pelvis and upper body backwards. We thus stretch the rectus femoris by bending the knee and opening the front of the hip joint. For a complete stretch of the stomach meridian we also stretch the front of the ankle as well as the front of the belly and ribcage.
We can try try to stretch the stomach meridian all at once or focus on each part one at a time.
Because of the interconnected nature of the meridians it is hard to just work on one meridian at a time when stretching or energizing the body. Generally, whenever we stretch one meridian other meridians are affected. If we are aware of the pathways of all of the meridians we can also realize which meridians are being stretched at the same time.
As an example, both the Stomach and Kidney Meridians run up the front of the torso. Thus we know that if we bend our spine backwards we not only stretch the stomach meridian but the kidney meridian also. As a result we can use single postures to stretch multiple meridians at the same time.
If we are aware of the interconnectedness of the meridian network as a whole, we can use this to guide stretches and even to design our postures. For example, the large intestine meridian runs up the back of the arm, up the side of the neck and then across to the opposite side of the face. From there it connects to the stomach meridian which runs down the front of the body and leg. We can stretch the Large Intestine and Stomach Meridian at the same time by doing a lunge while pulling the front leg arm across the chest while tilting the head to the opposite side.
Knowing that the three inner leg meridians all connect via the front of the body to the three meridians that run down the front of the arms, we can accompany or follow stretching or energizing the inner thighs with positions that stretch or energize the front of the arms.
|Gall Bladder (green)|
Learning the Meridians-The Meridian Pathways
The meridians are connected as follows:
- Lungs, Large Intestine,
- Stomach, Spleen,
- Heart, Small Intestine,
- Bladder, Kidneys,
- Pericardium, Triple Heater,
- Gall Bladder, Liver.
The Lung Meridian
The Lung Meridian runs down the outside edge of the front of the arm to the thumb. The Large Intestine Meridian startsat the index finger and runs up the back of the arm along the outside edge.
The Large Intestine Meridian
The Large Intestine Meridian runs up the neck and across the space between the bottom of the nose and the top of the upper lip, crossing the body’s center line to connect to the stomach meridian.
The lungs and large intestine both run along the outside edge of the arm. They are both associated with the element of “metal” and the color white.
The Stomach Meridian
The Stomach Meridian runs down the front of the body. Running down the toro it crosses the nipple and runs down the outside edge of the rectus abdominus and down the front of the thighs and lower leg to the foot where it connects to the big toe and the second toe.
The Spleen Meridian
The Spleen Meridian runs along the front edge of the inner thigh. It starts at from the top of the big toe. Running up the torso it follows a line to the outside of the stomach meridian.
The spleen and stomach are respectively yin and yang aspects of the earth element which is represented by yellow.
The Heart Meridian
The Heart Meridian runs along the inside edge of the front of the arm ending at the pinky.
The Small Intestine Meridian
The Small Intestine Meridian runs up the back of the arm along the inside edge. It starts from the back side of the pinky. It zig-zags across the spine of the shoulder blade, runs up the side of the neck to the outer corner of the eye and then to a point just in front of the ear.
The heart and small intestine are yin and yang aspects of the fire element which is represented by the color red.
The Bladder Meridian
The Bladder Meridian runs down the back of the body and back of the leg. It starts at the inside corner of the eye, runs over the top of the head and down the back of the body. To either side of the spine it has two lines on each side. These two lines zag outwards and down at the buttock and then recombine to form one line just behind each knee. The Bladder Meridian runs down the back of the calf to the outside of the heel and down the outside of the foot. It ends at the tip of the small toe where it then connects to the Kidney Meridian.
The Kidney Meridian
The Kidney Meridian runs up the back line of the inner thigh. It starts at the bottom of the foot from the the little toe back and to the inside edge of the foot where it follows the inside of the arch to then do a circle around the inside of the ankle. It then ascends the back edge of the inner thigh to the perinium and then runs up the front of the body close to the center line, connecting to the collar bone just inside the point where it connects to the sternum.
The kidney and bladder meridians are yin and yang aspects of the water element which is represented by blue or black.
The Pericardium Meridian
The Periciardium Meridian runs down the center line of the front of the arm to the tip of the middle finger.
The Triple Heater Meridian
The Triple Heater Meridian runs up the center of the back of the arm from the ring finger. It ascends the neck and circles behind the ear.
These two meridians have no associated element.
The Gullbladder Meridian
The Gull Bladder Meridian runs down the side of the body and side of the leg. It starts from in front of the ear, and coils back and forwards along the side of the head, each zag taking it higher up the skull. It then descends down the front of the shoulder and down the side of the body.
The Liver Meridian
The Liver Meridian runs up the inner thigh between the kidney and spleen meridians. It completes the meridian circuit by connecting back to the lung meridian at the front of the shoulder.
The lung, pericardium and heart meridians run down the front of the arm towards the hands. The large intestine, triple heater and small intestine run up the back of the arm and the side of the neck. The stomach meridian runs up the front of body, the bladder down the back of the body, while the gall bladder runs down the side of body.The spleen, liver and kidney meridians run up the inner thighs.
Metal Element, color white:
- Lungs-Front of Arm-Outside Edge
- Large Intestine-Back of the Arm-Outside Edge
Earth Element, color yellow;
- Stomach-Front of the Torso, Front of the Leg
- Spleen-Front Line of the Inner Thigh, Front of the Torso
Fire Element, color red;
- Heart-Front of the Arm-Inside Edge
- Small Intestine-Back of arm, Inside Edge
Water Element, color Blue or Black;
- Bladder-Back of the Torso, Back of the Legs
- Kidneys-Back Line of the Inner Thigh, Front of the Torso
- Pericardium-Front of the Arm-Center Line
- Triple Heater: Back of Arm-Center Line
Wood Element, color Green;
- Gall Bladder-Side of the Torso, Side of the Leg
- Liver: Center Line of the Inner Thigh.