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Health & Wellbeing / Lizzie Coop

How The Meridian Cycle Can Help Balance Your Body

Just like having a clean home, achieving equilibrium can seem unattainable and totally overwhelming, unless you’re naturally a balanced (or clean) person — in which case, our green eyes are pulsing at you right now. That’s why we’re fascinated by the meridian method, because it’s all about listening to very specific parts of the body, recognising what they can do, and then making bite-sized changes to achieve your aim — which is, according to ol’ meridian, all about exploring and restoring our imbalances.

Sure, the above is real rosey if you know what the heck the meridian system is, and does; less so if you’re feeling floored by the whole thing. Is it a superfood, a shade greener than the last no doubt? Or, perhaps another irritatingly stylish gym class? Nope, meridian is neither. Wah — who needs another way of pledging allegiance to wellbeing? OK, we hear you, but don’t freak out, once we strip this traditional practice back to its basics, it can be a really effective way of monitoring your imbalances (we all have them), and making simple, non-scary changes in the name of realignment.

According to traditional Chinese medicine there are twelve energy centres in the body, and they run like a labyrinth in different directions. Picture London Underground at 5pm. Yep, kinda like that. Now, these channels work most effectively when they are balanced. Why? Well, according to this ancient philosophy when working harmoniously, the meridians can distribute exactly the right amount of energy (or ‘qi’, if we’re feeling real fancy), to the body and mind, and this leaves us feeling… chill. Sounds like a pretty sweet slice of zen, right? Right.

Still with me? So, the twelve meridian channels are active in ascending order from the base of the spine to the crown of the head, and peak for an optimum two hour period each day. Collectively, they govern a specific function within the body, and this affects different elements of our mental health and physical wellbeing.

Below, we have put together a step-by-step guide to the meridian clock and a concise introduction to the associations that go in hand with each stage.

Stomach meridian

Active: 7am – 9am

Element: Earth

Location: Starts at the lower eyelid, and runs down face, looping at the forehead.

Physical imbalances: Digestive and stomach problems, abdominal pain, vomiting.

Emotional imbalances: Anxiety, worry, feelings of mistrust.

When balanced: Fairness, openness and caring.

Spleen meridian

Active: 9am – 11am

Element: Earth

Location: Starts at the tip of your big toe and runs up the inner leg and groin.

Physical imbalances: Digestive and stomach problems.

Emotional imbalances: Poor concentration, addiction, jealousy.

When balanced: Focus, openness, deep thinking.

Heart meridian

Active: 11am – 1pm

Element: Fire

Location: Originates from the heart and spreads over the heart system.

Physical imbalances: Shortness of breath, restless sleep, cold feeling in the limbs.

Emotional imbalances: Sadness, fear, isolation.

When balanced: Love, clarity of thought, balance.

Small intestine meridian

Active: 1pm – 3pm

Element: Fire

Location: From the tip of finger, to the forearm, shoulders ending at the back.

Physical imbalances: Abdominal pain, sweating, cramping

Emotional imbalances: Forgetfulness, indecision and cloudy thoughts

When balanced: Clarity of thought, concentration, acute memory

Bladder meridian

Active: 3pm – 5pm

Element: Water

Location: Starts within the inner eye and moves from the front of the head to the back.

Physical imbalances: Headaches, urinary infections, back problems, inflexibility.

Emotional imbalances: Lack of energy, fear, restricted emotional range.

When balanced: Calm, hopeful, peaceful

Kidney meridian

Active: 5pm – 7pm

Element: Water

Location: Moves from the top of the chest to the lower inner foot.

Physical imbalances: Chest pain, irregular menstruation, asthma.

Emotional imbalances: Paranoia, fear, loneliness.

When balanced: Wisdom, rationality and self-understanding.

Pericardium meridian

Active: 7pm – 9pm

Element: Fire

Location: This meridian begins in the middle of the chest, at the pericardium.

Physical imbalances: Disorders of the heart, chest and/ or stomach.

Emotional imbalances: Depression, difficulties expressing oneself.

When balanced: Desire, healthy relationships, joy.

Triple warmer meridian

Active: 9pm – 11pm

Element: Fire

Location: Originates from the tip of the fourth finger, and passes between the knuckles towards the wrist.

Physical imbalances: Issues affecting the head, chest, eyes and throat.

Emotional imbalances: Frustration, sluggish and lack of clarity.

When balanced: Relaxed, generous and quick-thinking.

Gall bladder meridian

Active: 11pm – 1am

Element: Wood

Location: This meridian begins just outside the outer corner of the eye, turns down towards the ear, then up to the forehead and behind the ear to the corner of the skull, before continuing down the neck to the shoulder, along the ribs right the way down the inner leg, ending on the outside of the fourth toe.

Physical imbalances: Insomnia, ringing in the ears, eye problems.

Emotional imbalances: Timidity, resentment and indecision.

When balanced: Courage, initiative, creativity.

Liver meridian

Active: 1am – 3am

Element: Wood

Location: Starts inside the big toe, crosses the top of the foot, passes in front of the ankles and up to the inner leg. Then, passes the knee, moves along the inner thigh to the groin. Establishes connection with the conception vessel in the lower abdomen and enters both the liver and gall bladder. The meridian then dips into the ribcage, runs through the throat and ends at the crown of the head.

Physical imbalances: Liver functionality is reflected in the visible appearance of fingernails, toenails and vision

Emotional imbalances: Intense feelings of frustration, anger and rage

When balanced: Desire, drive, ambition

Lung meridian

Active: 3am – 5am

Element: Metal

Location: This meridian begins at the middle burner (the solar plexus) and moves to the large intestine, past the stomach, crosses the diaphragm and enters the lungs. It then passes the windpipe to the throat and ends near the shoulders

Physical imbalances: Disorders of the chest, throat, lungs and nose

Emotional imbalances: Disappointment, grief, anxiety

When balanced: High self-esteem, dignity, integrity

Large intestine meridian

Active: 5am – 7am

Element: Metal

Location: Begins at the index finger. Runs to the thumb, along the arm to the elbow. Continues to the shoulder, crosses the shoulder blade and travels upwards to the neck then cheek, passes through the gum to the top lip. It then ends at the nose.

Physical imbalances: Abdominal pain, cramping, diarrhoea.

Emotional imbalances: Introversion, irritability, low self-esteem.

When balanced: Calm, focus, clarity.


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