In the previous articles we explored how our emotions are stored within the cells of the connective tissue, or fascia, and the connectivity of both Yin and Yang energy with the elements and in turn the seasons. For the purpose of this article we will now discuss how the same five elements of Wood, Fire, Earth, Metal and Water, and the seasons of Spring, Summer, Late Summer, Autumn and Winter all hold attributes connected with our internal organs, systems and structures and carry associated emotions.
The meridian system is a concept in traditional Chinese medicine which the life-energy “qi” flows, thought as energy tracks, a network of psychic nerves, constantly moving , exchanging and rebalancing, held within the fascia network of the body. When the Qi is not free flowing, there is a condition of imbalance. Imbalances can show as both physical pain and tension and/or emotional misalignments.
There are twelve primary meridians, six that penetrate major body organs which are your Liver, Spleen, Stomach, Gall Bladder, Urinary Bladder and Kidney. The other six meridians do not penetrate organs but are connected to specific parts of the body. These are the Lungs, Large Intestine, Pericardium, Triple Warmer, Small intestine and Heart. These twelve meridians can be placed into paired Meridians, one Yin and one Yang, that represent our masculine and feminine energy lines. Each meridian pair is associated with an emotion depending on the part of the physical body it is connected with, and both an element and season depending on its similar characteristics.
The Liver and Gallbladder organs are part of our detoxification and purification process and hold similar attributes to the element of Wood and the season of Spring, which govern our ability to let go of what’s no longer needed, to be rooted in the present and to create space for new growth and development. These meridians control the body’s immune response as well as tendons, ligaments and skeletal muscles. The liver absorbs what the body does not need and the Gallbladder assists the Liver with detoxification. It is believed that within these organs we hold the emotion of anger, when balanced, we show kindness, compassion, and generosity.
The Heart, Small Intestines, Pericardium and Triple Warmer meridians hold attributes connected to the element of Fire and the season of Summer; the time of activity, warmth and movement. The Heart meridian controls the circulation and distribution of blood, and all the other organs depend upon it. The Small Intestine meridian sorts the pure from the impure, including foods, fluids, thoughts and beliefs. The pericardium protects the heart physically and energetically absorbing the stresses and shocks. The triple warmer distributes a special chi called source chi, and governs the relationship between all the various organs allocating chi between them. Emotional imbalances include stress, hate, guilt, nervousness and craving. When balanced we feel love, joy, and peace
The Stomach and Spleen meridians hold attributes connected with the element of Earth and the season of Late Summer; a time of plenty; reaping what we have worked for throughout the year. The Earth is all about our feelings of stability and feeling grounded. Just as the Earth element denotes balance between the other elements , the Stomach and Spleen meridians, together, are called the acquired foundation, in that they lay the foundation of digestive health for the body. These organs enable nutrients to be transformed for their energy and assist our blood functioning. Emotional Imbalances include worry, mania or hypomania, severe anxiety, and hyperactivity. When balanced we feel trust, honesty and acceptance.
Both the Lung and Large Intestine meridians hold attributes with the element of Metal and the season of Autumn, underlying our own purity, our spiritual essence. Metal is the source of emotions such as good self-esteem and loyalty, our ability to shred the rubbish from our body, mind and spirit. The lungs regulate chi throughout the body, they control the breath and assist the heart with the circulation of blood. The lungs also regulate the autonomous nervous system forming a direct bridge between body and mind and in keeping the two in balance. The large intestine meridian rules elimination and communicates with the lungs to regulate the transportation functions of the body. If regular elimination does not occur toxins build up. Emotion imbalances include sadness, grief, and inability to forgive. When balanced we show dignity, integrity and high self-esteem.
The kidneys and Urinary bladder meridians are attributed to the energy of Water and the season of Winter; the time of rest and hibernation. Water is about our ability to flow and to overcome obstacles; the ability to listen to our own needs. According to Traditional Chinese Medicine the kidneys grasp the chi, they are the residence of both yin and yang energy; the source of vital life essence which purifies the blood and breaks down nutrition’s into nutritional components; they move, convert, store and expel excess water and nourish the brain. The bladder meridian is in charge of storing and eliminating fluid waste. It receives chi from the Kidney meridian and uses it to transform fluids for elimination. Emotional imbalances include loneliness, insecurity and low vitality. When Balanced we show rationality, clear perception, gentleness, and self-understanding.
There are also two single meridians called the Governing and Conception vessels. The Governing and Conception Vessels are the main paths of the body’s Yin and Yang energies. Each has two principal energy flows on the front and back vertical midline of the body; composing of an ascending energetic flow and a descending energetic flow, they join at the extremities (the head and perineum), forming one complete circle of energetic current. The Governing Vessel Meridian controls all the Yang channels. The Conception Vessel Meridian monitoring and directing all of the Yin Channels. They are a beautifully balanced yin yang loop running around our energetic core, helping to seal, nourish and protect our whole body system.
Though we have these main yin and yang meridian lines, each meridian also has internal branches that correspond, link and assist with each other. If we take this into account, and that they have not only their own main pathway and function but also these various interconnected branches, and therefore dual functionality, in their balanced, healthy states, they are all working together.
Yin and Yang energy within the physical body is constantly moving, adjusting and rebalancing but functioning as a whole. This duality is observed within the physical body in terms of the connectivity with our emotional health; the health of our organs and our overall balanced wellbeing of mind, body, spirit. Just as the physical can affect the emotional so too can the emotional affect the physical, and it is this understanding that enables us to use our yoga practice as a tool in creating balance. The more we are able to connect with nature, the elements, the seasons and all aspects of the Self, the more we can use the tools of yoga to rebalance accordingly.