In traditional Chines medicine (TCM) there is an understanding that the bodies Qi or vital energy flows through meridians. Each internal organ and system has a meridian. If the body, mind, heart or Spirit are out of balance in some way, the organs and corresponding meridians can become congested, interfering with the proper flow of Qi. With the use of better lifestyle choices, medicinal herbs and acupuncture or massage, harmony can be restored.
Western medical science is uncomfortable with the theory of meridians because they cannot be found in the body, even using the most advanced technology available.
In the post “What is Qi Gong?”, I explored the Chines word Qi and it’s often exaggerated use as a noun. What if Qi is not a noun? What if meridian are not invisible tubes that science is too inept to find?
I would like to share with you another perspective on meridians that challenges some new age assumptions. This perspective come from over 35 years of Qi Gong or Dao Yin practice and may take your understanding of meridians to a much safer and more profound level. Or you may disagree completely, and that is OK too.
Most of the misunderstanding that occurs between the East and West fundamentally come down to completely different languages. I don’t just mean different sounds and writing, I mean completely different experiences of reality. Imagine you are the first Western person to observe someone practicing acupuncture a few hundred years ago. You ask some questions and the practitioner shows you a drawing of the human body with some lines on it with special points that have mysterious names. Then let’s say you go home and try to explain what you have seen. Now remember, even if you learned a little Chines, you think in English.
In English, Qi is a noun. There is no other way to experience the concept of a vital energy that flows through the body. The word that naturally come to mind when you think of lines drawn on the body or lines drawn on a map would be meridian. Meridian literally means “imaginary line” in English.
So, here you are trying to explain why someone put needles into someone else. You explain the “imaginary” lines on the map of the human body. You explain the Chinese idea of Qi and naturally, in English , thick of the word channel, like and irrigation system. It is the only way you can think about it really. Qi is stuff and it has to get around some how, right?
Please understand that I am trying to have a little fun with some ideas that people, even in China, take very seriously. These ideas, when used properly, can help an acupuncturist make the right decisions to help other people every day. Am I saying this perspective on Qi and meridians is all wrong? Not at all. I just think it is bit literal and Western and may be missing some profound possibilities.
What if, over billions of years of evolution, since we were single celled organisms floating on the ocean, something else besides just physical changes was going on? What if there was an intelligent bio-electrical field interacting with its environment, guiding the gradual changes we recognize as evolution. Because I am writing this in English I am going to ask you think of this intelligent field as a verb, the movement, interaction and response are all that matter. If you don’t know much about meridians and Chinese medicine this next part will be confusing, but I think you will still get the point I am trying to make. If you already know a lot about these things I hope this gives you a refreshing perspective.
Image, if you will, that over a couple of billion years this sentient conscious field began to organize itself more and more coherently. The single cell floating on the ocean may have had four meridians of channels. I like the work channel because, like a television channel, it’s role is to transmit information as electromagnetic energy. There may have been a channel to interact with sunlight for energy, a channel for interacting with nutrients in the ocean, perhaps a channel or two for regulating internal cellular functions. In my understanding, all of the classic extra-ordinary channels were functioning at this point. As evolution progressed more channels became necessary. Said another way, more levels of conscious interaction and response became necessary.
Honestly, I could probably write a book explaining this perspective from beginning to end, but I hope it gives you somethings to think on about what might actually be happening during an acupuncture treatment. More importantly, what opportunities may be open to you during your Qi gong practice. As you progress through the material in this program there will be a video on the adaptive/responsive nature of each of the meridians and a practice to open them all equally.