Maybe you have heard about meridians before when people talk about acupuncture? Meridians are central to the TCM - traditional Chinese medicine theory of acupuncture. Now you can understand what they are and what collaterals are.
The Concept of Meridians and Collaterals
In TCM (traditional Chinese medicine) the concept of meridians and collaterals are an ancient and central part of the theory upon which the practice of TCM is based.
What is the basis of the concept of meridians and collaterals? They are types of pathways where the circulation of human qi (life force/energy) and blood occurs.
If you see the human body as a tree, then visualise the meridians as the main trunks, which run longitudinally, and the collaterals are the branches of these trunks which run transversely.
The entire system of meridians and collaterals connect internally to the Zang Fu organs and externally to the skin and muscles. Through this system the body's tissues are linked together as an organic whole.
However they do not have any actual anatomical structure. Although to date many research projects on the meridian system have been carried out, at the time of writing, none have so far been able to find a total anatomical description.
How the Concept of Meridians and Collaterals Came Into Being
In ancient clinical practice in China, it is thought that the concept of meridians and collaterals came into being when ancient people used the following practices:
-Stone needle acupuncture
There is a general acceptance that the ancient sages received information during meditation, whilst the yogis experienced the concept and flow in their bodies, and empirical investigations have been carried out by many generations of TCM and qi gong practitioners. All of these contributed to the development of the concept.
It is thought that during ancient acupuncture trials, acupuncture points that gave relief to health issues corresponded to other acupuncture points which gave relief to the same type of issue. These were found to have an organised pattern.
The feeling of needling was found to be on particular skin areas and would then follow a specific pathway.
Correlations were also made with the onset of certain ailments that were felt as pain in a precise part of the skin, which would often additionally manifest in the form of skin colour changes or rashes.
Qi flows and throughout the body comes together in types of injections or little energy pools of qi. It is these that are the main 365 acupuncture points. As practitioners know and many patients have experienced, a symptom can be relieved by needling the body in a totally different location. This is because of the meridians and collaterals. Each acupuncture point connects to specific organs and belogs to a meridian channel.
Jing Luo - Chinese Word for Meridian
When we understand what the Chinese word for meridian means, this can help further in appreciating the concept.
The word jing means vertical channels, but it also means the essence that is ancestral jing. In TCM it is believed that each of us is born with a special qi inherited from our blood line. Qi (life force/energy) is made up of this congenital qi (jing) which is stored in the kidneys, clear qi which we get from natural air and nutriends of food and water.
Luo means everything, for example the feng shui compass is called Luo Pan, the meaning of pan is bowl. In the meridian system luo means network.
Therefore the concept of the meridian system is a network of life force channels, where blood is circulated and subtle energetic events occur. It is also where the acupuncture points are found.