Not all pain interventions must be focused on the place that hurts. Since everything is connected, sometimes we can experience relief by tending to a distant part of the body. How do we improve our chance of finding effective locations to focus our attention? Chinese medicine has been studying that question for more than five thousand years and has been using the meridian system. Understanding and tending to meridians increases our capacity to reduce pain. We can also use meridians to enhance vitality. Sleep disturbances and sluggishness can be relieved by removing congestion in meridians.
Meridians are pathways that carry life-force energy throughout the body. Although they are identified as individual segments, they flow into one another like a continuous river of energy. Each meridian feeds energy to and bears the name of a specific organ or system. Every meridian also interacts with certain muscles and specific elements such as yin and yang, our emotions and daily and seasonal variations in the flow of life force energy. Numerous acupuncture points, or tiny holes, lie along each meridian and serve as access points that allow us to influence and support the flow of energy.
An experience with a client* demonstrates the power of using the meridian system to reduce pain. A strong, independent woman came for a session after falling off a ladder and sustaining an injury that caused excruciating pain that began at her lower back and radiated from the right, outer hip, through the groin area and down the inside of her leg to her foot. She moved slowly, stiffly and painfully as she walked to the treatment room.
My first thought was to tap on ankle points and interrupt pain sensors located in zones in the body that are mapped in foot reflexology. However, my client described additional symptoms affecting her bladder. Sometimes she felt the need to urinate even when her bladder was empty. Other times, her bladder provided no signal that it was full. These comments directed my attention to the meridian system. The pain along her lower back corresponded with points along the bladder meridian. The pain in the groin and leg aligned with a portion of the kidney meridian. In addition, a Muscle Meridian Chart in Donna Eden’s book, Energy Medicine (1998), revealed that the pain resided in muscles associated with the circulation sex and triple warmer meridians. The triple warmer and circulation sex meridians are located along the arms. It is counterintuitive to provide treatment to the upper half of the body when a person is experiencing pain in the lower back, groin and legs. Nevertheless, these four meridians became the focus of my attention. During the first session, I used Eden’s Pain Chasing Technique to remove congestion in the bladder meridian. Since bladder is the longest meridian in the body, this was the only intervention completed during this session. The next time we met, I focused on clearing the circulation sex meridian by tracing it backwards, to clear it, then forwards three times to reset it. I also sedated her triple warmer meridian by holding specific acupuncture points. Finally, I used Eden’s Pain Chasing Technique to remove congestion along the kidney meridian. After each treatment, my client reported a reduction in her pain level and she appeared to move more easily. Since the meridian system connects the various parts of the body, pain relief occurs even when addressing seemingly unrelated locations in the body.
Pain is not the only symptom that can be corrected by working with meridians. Disturbances such as interrupted sleep can be caused by congestion in a meridian. If you consistently wake up at 3 AM, that time of night is governed by the lung meridian. When you wake up, try clearing congestion by tracing the path of the lung meridian in reverse, along the inner arm, from thumb to armpit. Then trace it three times, from armpit to thumb, to reestablish the natural direction of the meridian’s flow. Often, this quick adjustment allows people to quickly fall back to sleep. Similarly, if there is a time during the day when you consistently feel sluggish or tired, you might be able to boost your energy by clearing the meridian that is active during that time period. Use the chart in Figure 1 to identify the time of day when each meridian is active.
Figure 1. Meridian Time Chart
Time – AM Hours Meridian Time – PM Hours Meridian
11 PM-1 AM Gall Bladder 11 AM-1 PM Heart
1 AM-3 AM Liver 1 PM-3 PM Small Intestine
3 AM-5 AM Lung 3 PM-5 PM Bladder
5 AM-7AM Large Intestine 5 PM-7 PM Kidney
7 AM-9 AM Stomach 7 PM-9 PM Circulation Sex
9 AM-11 AM Spleen 9 PM-11 PM Triple Warmer
Then use this link to see the path of that meridian: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CV7QLkWMHKI
Trace the meridian backwards to clear it. Then trace it forward, three times, to reestablish its natural flow. After completing this process, pause for a few moments and see what you notice, if anything.
Sometimes resolving disturbances in the meridians requires trial and error. While pain may indicate a problem, the cause might be either sluggishness or overexertion. If the flow is overly strong, strengthening the meridian could push it into overdrive and make the problem worse. Also, since everything is related, a back-up in one meridian might be the result of congestion in a meridian that is further downstream in the energetic river. A skillful energy healer or a naturopath trained in Chinese medicine can help identify the source of a problem and provide remedies to relieve symptoms and reestablish balance. When you maintain a healthy meridian system, the river of your energy carries you through your day.
*this example is a composite of several clients
River photograph courtesy of FreeImages.com/Adriana Martins