Meridians: The Finer Points of Acupuncture
Energy. What propels you. What moves you forwards or backwards. What gives you the power to perform. When you’re on a bike, or working out, or even sitting still, if you concentrate, you can feel the energy flow through your body, whether it’s in your breath and the contractions of your chest, the movements of your eyelids, or the wriggling of your toes and fingers. ‘Flowing through your veins’ is a common phrase associated with the simple yet oh-so-critical word. Energy. Essential to life, energy is vital in everything that we do, whether it requires mental stamina or physical prowess.
Defined as qi in acupuncture, the flow of energy is as vital to every living thing as energy itself. A constant balancing act, a push and pull of sorts, finding your qi is akin to finding balance in your life.
When we are sick, feeling despair, or out of sorts, our energy levels drop and our qi is compromised. the yin and yang, at that point, are so far apart that it requires an immense amount of effort, both physical and mental, to strike the balancing act required to maintain a proper flow of qi.
If the balancing act is in jeopardy, there are numerous TCM treatments that, if called upon and practised by a registered practitioner, can come to the rescue.
Acupuncture, one of the most common TCM disciplines, is a form of therapy, clinically proven and approved by the World Health Organization (WHO), to treat numerous ailments. ranging from sports injuries, such as knee pain, sprains and tennis elbow, to headaches, nausea, vomiting, and hyper/hypo tension.
Defined as qi in acupuncture, the flow of energy is as vital to every living thing as energy itself
The WHO also suggests that acupuncture could be considered to treat many more ailments, and still more, as a suggested alternative when traditional medicine fails in treating a particular ailment or illness.
As part of the method which trained acupuncturists use to treat illnesses and ailments, the yin and yang (negative/positive, male/female) life forces, as well as the qi (flow of energy), and meridians (points within the body) are imperative.
While doctors provide prescribed treatments, acupuncturists are part of the treatment, involving themselves through the practice – using needling techniques along various pressure points to stimulate other sensations, to alleviate pain, to divert the mind away from a particular ailing area, or to prolong or prevent recurring symptoms of pain.
If acupuncture were a lead actress, this would be when meridians play an ever-crucial supporting role. Described as your body’s “road map,” meridians are a “vast network of invisible energy pathways,” similar to a web of channels, connecting every part of your body, right down to each and every cell – and beyond the physical – to the realm of your mind, emotions and spirit – “everything conscious and unconscious within you.” (www.tcmworld.org) If used in the context of a medical practice, meridians would be like blood vessels, tissue, blood, bodily fluids, cartilage, and every other physical part of the body.
Meridians are a ‘vast network of invisible energy pathways,’ similar to a web of channels, connecting every part of your body, right down to each and every cell
In the context of acupuncture, meridians are the interconnection between and of all of these things with one another, and balanced by the unconscious flow of qi throughout these channels.
Once assessed to determine which meridian points will best treat a particular ailment, the acupuncturist carefully applies the more than 2,000-year-old needling technique, “We are soft, yet aggressive, we are balanced so that the appropriate amount of yin is given if you are yang, or vice versa. Every treatment we give, we gain energy from you and you gain it from us,” emphasises Jennifer Redding, owner and acupuncturist of AcuFx Health and Wellness Clinic. The technique of acupuncture is designed to boost immunity and functionality. Redding likens this to a quote from the Tao Te Ching philosophical writings by 6th c. B.C. Taoist philosopher, Lao-Tzu: “‘A Journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step,'” (www.bbc.co.uk) Each meridian is a single step towards the process of healing.
There are, by WHO standards, 361 acupuncture points, super-categorized according to their role as one of 12 of the body’s distribution or channeling systems (ranging from the Triple Warmer Meridian to the Bladder Meridian), and their relationship with physical and non-physical realms of the body.
We are soft, yet aggressive, we are balanced so that the appropriate amount of yin is given if you are yang, or vice versa. Every treatment we give, we gain energy from you and you gain it from us.
According to what each acupuncture point, or meridian associated with each ailment, is known to treat, and/or where it is located, the TCM classifies similar acupuncture points, or individual meridians (think subcategories) together, under one of the 12 meridian ‘super’ categories.
For instance, to treat physical imbalances ranging from shortness of breath, palpitations, cold sweat and restless sleep to emotional imbalances, such as fear, sadness, anxiety, melancholy, jealousy, sorrow, the Heart Meridian’s points are used. (www.natural-health-zone.com)
A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step
To treat symptoms associated with the side of the head, eyes, ears, and throat, the go-to is the Triple Warmer Meridian.
So, next time you experience pain, acupuncture is a proven practice that you might want to consider trying, and meridians, not unlike the flow of blood through our veins, yet as vast in their scope of connectivity with the mental and physical aspects of the body and beyond, are like watching television – a portal of channels (acupuncture points) which connect through a remote (body), and that provide a particular service (connecting heart to brain, lungs to spleen), and which perform a particular mental or physical function (blood flow, tissues, veins, breathing, beating, emotional balance, etc.). The meridians are mediators that, through acupuncture and qi, help regulate your body to promote healing.