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So what are Meridians?

By acupressure33387979, Nov 2 2016 03:55PM

To better understand Acupressure massage you might find this article interesting. See you soon!

Published in the fall 2006 issue of "Oriental Medicine," a publication of the Pacific College of Oriental Medicine in San Diego, CA

(The quotes from B.C. acupuncturist and author Arnie Lade are from email dialogues and from his book, "Energetic Healing: Embracing the Life Force." Thanks to Arnie also for referring me to the recent scientific research by H.W. Langevin, M.D. in Vermont. Fascinating!)

The simplest and most common explanation is that the meridians are a network of channels that transport Qi (energy), and acu-points are places along the meridians where the Qi is accessible-i.e. close to the surface of the skin. (However, there are numerous "extra points" that are found outside of the Meridian network.) Stimulation of acu-points -like with finger pressure, needles or heat- influences the local area and various functions of related Organ Meridian(s).

Some modern authors use the word "channel" instead of "meridian." Ted Kaptchuk, in The Web that has no Weaver, explains that the use of the word "Meridian" in English books on Chinese medicine came from a French translation of the Chinese term "jing-luo" [as "meridien"].1 One meaning of Jing is "to go through," and luo means "something that connects or attaches." Kaptchuk thinks channel is a better translation of jing-luo, but says that he uses the word "meridian" to avoid confusion.2

The Chinese word for "acu-point" is "xue" (in the modern Pinyin transliteration). B.C. acupuncturist Arnie Lade says, "The original character for xue contains the image of something precious buried in a small hole in the earth (most likely referring to the placement of the dead in auspiciously positioned burial holes or graves)."

The theory of the meridians or channels, and of the traditional associations of the acu-points, summarizes the experience of Chinese healing artists over thousands of years. Its basis is primarily experiential. However, going back to at least 1952, there has been some fascinating scientific research that tends to confirm the existence of meridians and acu-points, and that partially explains the nature of the meridians and acu-points.

The Chinese healing arts essentially take an energetic functional approach. In acupuncture and acupressure theory, the emphasis is on energetic function, not on physical form. As is succinctly explained in Acupuncture: a Comprehensive Text, by the Shanghai College of Traditional Medicine: "What happens is considered more important than what something has come to look like."3 From this functional perspective, the Organs are their functions, so explanations of structural and physiological mechanisms are unnecessary.

The word "Organ" is usually capitalized in books on acupuncture and acupressure, to indicate that the reference is to an energetic functional whole. An Organ includes an internal organ, a sense and sense organ, a body fluid, particular body parts, and certain emotions and/or defensive attitudes, all of which are related to a particular season and climatic condition.

Qi is derived from the air that we breathe, the food and liquids that we take in, and other subtle elements that we absorb (like through the skin or senses). The process whereby these elements are transformed into the true body energy (Zhen Qi) is analogous to but different from the digestive process.4

The meridians are a network of channels that transport Qi. An Organ Meridian is a channel that transports Qi to the related internal organ, sense organ, and body parts-including, of course, the tissues along its route. Generally named for the related internal organ, the twelve Organ Meridians are: the Lung, Large Intestine, Stomach, Spleen, Heart, Small Intestine, Bladder, Kidney, Pericardium, Triple Warmer, Gall Bladder, and Liver Meridians.

Each Organ receives Qi (vital energy) through its meridian and its related functions can be influenced by stimulating points along its meridian. As Arnie Lade says, "By influencing the Meridians we affect the Organs, and vice versa also! Acu-points along a Meridian are just gateways to influence the Meridians."

The Shanghai text says, "The Qi and Blood circulate throughout the body via this network of channels," and it is primarily "by means of the channels" that "the intimate relationship between the internal Viscera and the periphery of the body" is maintained. As Arnie Lade points out, this "suggests both a communicative function as well as a defensive capacity of the Meridians." Many modern authors, including Kaptchuk, say the meridians carry Qi and Blood, although it is agreed that the meridians are NOT the blood vessels, and cannot be seen. Arnie explains: "Chinese medicine has a saying: 'Qi is the commander of Blood, and Blood is the mother of Qi.' This means that Qi is the motive force behind Blood while Blood nourishes Qi. Some writers have interpreted this as a kind of anatomical fact, while the opposing opinion says that these descriptions of the relationship between Qi and Blood simply express their energetic function!"

When chronic tension develops in the area of major acu-points, it disrupts the flow of Qi along the meridian and, hence, obstructs the nourishment of the related Organ. Release of tension in the area of an acu-point facilitates the smooth flow of Qi in the meridians that go through that area, and vice versa. Therefore, to more deeply and pleasantly release tension at an acu-point, Jin Shin Do® Acupressurists hold it with one hand while, with the other hand, holding "distal points" along related Organ meridians and Strange Flows (or "Extraordinary" Meridians or "Vessels")

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