Meridian (经络) System and the Flow of Qi (气)
The theory of Meridians (经络) system, also known as the Channel theory, is the foundation of the traditional Chinese medicine that has been developed and practiced over 2,500 years.
The Meridian system, an invisible network of channels or pathways, includes vertical and horizontal systems. The vertical channel is called meridian (经脉) and the horizontal channel is called collateral (络脉). There are twelve main meridians in the body, six yin (阴) and six yang（阳）, and each relates to one of the Zangfu（脏腹）, or organ.
Based on the theory of the traditional Chinese medicine, like blood travel in blood vessels to deliver nutrients to every cell of the human body, Qi (气) flows in the Meridian system to deliver the life-force, or energy, to each element of the human body.
According to the Chinese, Qi (or Chi) sustains life in the body. Obstruction of the flow of Qi can cause imbalance in the body and lead to sickness. The theory is also used in Japanese (called Ki) and in Thai (called Sen Lines).
In the point of view of the traditional Chinese medicine, the Meridian system has four physiological functions:
- Provides a network of connections that links the whole body including the organs, blood vessels, nerves, bones, and muscles… together.
- Provides pathways for the flow of blood and Qi, which is the life force of the human body.
- Forms a web of sensory system that allows the body elements to communicate with each other, and initiates the self-healing process whenever it is needed.
- Regulates the body and organ functions to ensure that they work cohesively and in balance.
Balanced and free-flowing Qi means physical and emotional well-being. Naturally our body has a self-defense and self-healing mechanism to protect us from disease attacks. Most of us live a stressful life in the highly industrialized world of today. Emotional distress, unhealthy lifestyle, and environmental pollution can interfere with the flow of Qi, push the human body off balance, and lead to sickness. The self-defense and self-healing mechanism could be weakened and even shutdown. When that happens, it is important to restore the balance and re-establish the free-flowing of Qi.
Along each meridian, there are Qi points, or acupuncture points (穴位), that can be manipulated to restore balance. Stimulating these points by thumb/ finger pressure or needles is the basic technique of therapeutic massage, acupuncture and acupressure.
If you ever had an experience of acupuncture treatment, you probably noticed that the acupuncture practitioner put needles on the parts of your body that are far away from where the symptoms of sickness occur. This is because the Qi points being stimulated lies on a meridian that links to the injured or diseased part of your body. The energy of the stimulation or manipulation will be transmitted along this meridian to the part of body that is in need of healing.
To maintain the overall balance and the free-flowing of Qi, the Chinese has developed Martial Arts, or Kungfu (功夫), since ancient time. Such exercises were designed to harness the flow of Qi and maneuver the power of energy for general well-being. The most well known Chinese exercises are Qigong (气功) and Tai Chi（太极）. The awareness of your body, mind and spirit can be cultivated through these exercises. With practice you can feel the flow of Qi within your body and obtain the art of Qi harnessing. These knowledge and skills can help you to manage your physical and mental well-being and live a healthy life.
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