Chi, which is also known as ki, qi, prana or simply energy, is the universal vital life force (or life breath) which exists and permeates all living things. We are born with Chi, and based on the laws of energy, Chi cannot be destroyed it can only be transformed.
The Chinese believe Chi is the force which energises and nourishes our body, and that it is vital to our well-being. Chi can be increased or decreased (by becoming blocked or imbalanced) based on our internal and external environments as well as our experiences.
When Chi is imbalanced or blocked it can impact on our health (as in the Triad of Health ~ Structurally, Emotionally / Mentally or Chemically). Disruption to our flow of Chi can be caused by poor diet, lack of exercise, poor breathing and posture, scar tissue as well as other chemical, physical or psychological stresses.
Whilst there are many aspects which can affect our chi, one contributing factor is the flow of our energy via our meridians. Meridians are the unseen channels which energy is transported throughout the body.
Meridians exist deep within the body, however we can influence the flow of energy at a superficial level, for example with acupressure, acupuncture or kinesiology. Meridian based therapies have been found in ancient texts dating back to 2698 BC.
There are twelve major meridians, ten which relate to physical organs and two which relate to functions. During a 24 hour period the energy fluctuates through the body with peak energy in each meridian during a two hour period.
The meridian timetable is also known as the Horary Clock and can be an effective tool for detecting energy imbalances. If, at a particular time of the day, you find you get headaches, that your mood changes or your energy dips, it could be that the energy is blocked in the relating meridian.
Horary Clock Explained
Stomach (7am to 9am)
The Stomach meridian is also considered to be the ‘Sea of Nourishment’. The stomach digests foods and fluids, thus providing our system with energy. It also moves food and fluids to the small intestine where nutrients are extracted and assimilated. The stomach meridian works closely with the spleen to transport this energy through the meridian system, to the lungs where it merges with the energy obtained from breathing.
Indicators of low or blocked meridian energy could be anxiety, not feeling hungry or still feeling unsatisfied after eating, stomach cramps, jaw tension, nausea, indigestion, burping and gas.
It is the optimal time for having breakfast and thus digesting food. If imbalanced what is it that you are not digesting or assimilating, literally or metaphysically? Are you nourishing yourself, your ideas or goals?
Spleen (9am to 11am)
The Spleen meridian is also called the ‘Minister of the Granary’ being a storehouse of energy. The spleen provides enzymes to the stomach and small intestine, therefore governing the extraction and assimilation of nutrients from food and fluids. It also regulates and filters blood together with kidneys to balance bodily fluids.
Muscle tone and condition is influenced by the spleen. Evidence of deficient spleen energy can be detected by weak limbs and muscle atrophy. An imbalance in this meridian can result in a craving for sugar, fatiguing easily and anaemia.
It is optimal time for exercise or being task orientated. If imbalanced are you breaking tasks down into manageable parts? Are your overwhelming your system with toxic matter/s?
Heart (11am to 1pm)
The heart is referred to the ‘Queen’ of our organs. In Chinese, the word for heart is “hsin”, which also means mind. The Internal Medicine Classic notes: ‘The heart commands all of the organs and viscera, houses the spirit, and controls the emotions.’
When our heart meridian flowing, we are able to control our emotions. However when blocked or imbalanced we are emotionally vulnerable.
Physiologically, the heart circulates and distributes oxygenated blood to all other parts of the body, as well as transport de-oxygenated blood to the lungs for expiration. Thus all other organs are dependant on the heart for sustenance.
Internally, from a functional aspect the heart is associated with the thymus gland, which supports the reason extreme emotions can suppress and affect our immune system.
Thus this is an optimal time to take a break, so the heart has more energy to direct to fundamental functions. If imbalanced what is the conflict between heart and mind? What keeps circulating that needs to be expelled? What engages your heart, what action or task could you do that nourishes you?
Small Intestines (1pm to 3pm)
The Small Intestines are also considered to be the ‘Minister of Reception’. Their roles is to received broken down food from the stomach for further digesting in order to extract and assimilate the pure nutrients. Moving impure nutrients (waste) to the large intestine.
The small intestines belong to the Fire Element, along with the heart, circulation-sex and triple warmer meridians, and controls basic emotions which is indicated in the Chinese term “duan chang” (broken intestines) which in English is equivalent to “Broken Heart”.
The small intestine meridian influences the pituitary gland, which is the master gland and regulates growth, metabolism, immunity, sexuality as well as the endocrine system.
This is an optimal time for eating lunch. If there are blocks or imbalance in this meridian what are you not absorbing, physically or metaphysically? What are you doing that doesn’t nourish you? What could you be doing which does? What could you be more receptive to?
Bladder (3pm to 5pm)
The Bladder is also referred to as the ‘Minister of the Reservoir’, as it is the reservoir for short storage of, as well as, excretion of the excretory waste received from the kidneys.
This is the only function of the bladder, however as the bladder meridian flows along the back (from the eyes over the head and down to the heal) with two parallel branches that flow along both sides of the spine, it also relates to the balance and functioning of the autonomous nervous system.
The autonomic nervous system is a part of the nervous system and regulates essential involuntary bodily functions, such as smooth muscles (of the heart, eyes and stomach) and glands. The autonomic nervous system has two parts, the sympathetic nervous system which governs increases heart rate, blood vessel constriction and blood pressure; and the parasympathetic nervous system which decreases the heart rate, increases intestinal and gland activity, and relaxes sphincter muscles.
During the bladder time it is an optimal time for drinking water. If there are blockages or imbalance in this meridian are you drinking enough water? Are you going outside your comfort zone and being “stretched”? What do you need to allow to flow more freely? Where are you on auto-pilot that you need to be more aware of?
Kidney (5pm to 7pm)
The Kidney is considered the ‘Minister of Power’, as it is one of the most important pools of vital energy. The kidneys filter blood, helping to remove excess salt, water and waste products. They also product hormones which play significant roles in the production of blood cells and regulation of blood pressure.
Prenatal energy (called ‘yuan chee”) is stored in the kidney meridian system, hence why kidneys are also known as the Root of Life. The Chinese consider the adrenal glands, adrenal medulla and adrenal cortex to belong to the Kidney organ system, which are glands that produce hormones to regulate metabolism, excretion, immunity, sexual potency and fertility. The Chinese also relate the kidneys to the reproductive functions and thus are a prime source of sexual energy, which the Chinese regard as a main indicator of health.
Indicators of weak or impaired kidney energy may be anaemia, tinnitus or immune deficiency, as well as poor memory, inability to think clearly, and backache. The Chinese also consider the kidneys as the seat of courage and willpower, so weak kidney energy may result in feelings of fear or paranoia.
This is also a key time for drinking more water as well has having a light dinner. It can also be a consideration of eating smaller meals more regularly. Metaphysically it can relate to having to filter and remove things or perhaps consider where you are feeling pressure. Do you have sufficient energy or are you using your reservoirs?
Circulation Sex (also known as Pericardium (7pm to 9pm)
The Circulation Sex meridian is one of the function meridians which is also know as the ‘Queen’s (heart) Bodyguard’, as in Chinese medicine this meridian protects the heart and its functions. On an energetic level it protects the heart from intense emotions such as anger from the liver, fear from the kidneys, and grief from the lungs.
Pericardium energy, which the circulation sex meridian is also know, relates to emotional feelings linked with love and sex, therefore linking the physical and emotion aspects of sexual activity.
Thus making this time ideal for sex, connecting with your partner and/or delving into emotional “stuff” linked with relationships. If there are blocks or imbalances in this meridian consider how you feel about relationships, reproduction and sex. What do you feel, or are you, protection yourself from? What do you see as your legacy?
Triple Warmer (9pm to 11pm)
The other function meridian, the Triple Warmer meridian relates to three heats of our body; metabolism (including adrenals), immune system and temperature regulation. It is responsible for the movement and transformation of fluids in our system, as well as the regulation of nourishing and protective energy.
The triple warmer meridian has also been associated with the hypothalamus, which is a region of the brain which coordinates the autonomous nervous system and pituitary gland. Thus controlling body temperature, thirst, hunger, sleep, mood, sex drive, fluid balance as well as other basic autonomous functions.
Optimum time for nourishing ourselves by meditating or going to sleep. Metaphysically, what is getting a ‘rise’ out of you? What makes you “hot under the collar”? Where can you get energy to power what you need to do? What are you resisting? or need to resist / be immune to? Also consider building your immune system and/or taking care of your adrenals (eat small meals regularly, take adaptation herbs).
Gallbladder (11pm to 1am)
The Gallbladder meridian is also considered the ‘Honourable Minister’ as its function (cause) is to support the liver by storing bile produced by the liver, bile which is used to break down fats. Chinese medicine considers tension headaches (of the shoulders and neck) to be caused by a block in the gallbladder meridian.
In Chinese, the word for ‘daring’ is da dan (‘big gall’) and thus the gallbladder meridian is believed to rule our willpower, determination, daringness and assertiveness.
A time when most people are asleep, yet for those who are not this is an optimal time to consider what you are storing (literally or metaphysically) and what can be eliminated. If you were to be daring, and could achieve anything, what would it be? Now break that down in manageable steps, how could you make that happen?
Liver (1am to 3am)
The liver is known as the ‘General” and it is the organ (although also considered a gland) which produces bile for breaking down fats. The liver is also is responsible for filtering the blood, detoxifying it, nourishing it and storing it. As well as converting sugar to glycogen for when the body requires itL
The liver is linked with the peripheral nervous system, which carries messages from the brain to our limbs controlling muscles, joints, ligaments and tendons.
An imbalance in the liver meridian can result in an inability to relax, proper coordination, blurry vision, weak fingernails. It is also considered to the ‘seat of anger’ and is linked to intense feelings such as rage, anger and frustration.
The liver meridian is at it’s peak between 1am and 3am, therefore this is the better to be eating fatty, sugary foods or drinking alcohol (not that I would suggest doing any of these at any time). It is also an ideal time for exercise, if you happen to be awake, as it helps release tension and stored emotions, boosts oxygen as well as increases blood flow. Metaphysically consider how you are handling multiple responsibilities? Are you becoming overwhelmed? What needs detoxifying in your life? What do you need to purify and cleanse?
Lung (3am to 5am)
The Lung meridian is known as the ‘Prime Minister’, our lungs play a major role in the function of respiration, allowing us to inhale oxygen and dispels carbon dioxide. It works with the heart to circulate blood and the Internal Medicine Classic states: ‘Energy is the commander of blood; when energy moves, blood follows. Blood is the mother of energy; where blood goes, energy follows.’ Demonstrating the intimate relationship of the heart and lungs.
When vital energy is low in the lung meridian, we shallow breath or our breathing is irregular. We may have trouble adjusting our body temperature and thus shiver, or we may find our resistance to colds and flu lacking. Pale skins or poor complexion are also indicative of weak lung meridian energy.
This is an ideal time for deep breathing, yoga or meditation. Metaphysically what is stopping you from having the space to breathe? Are you feeling constricted, inhibited from expressing yourself? What are you grieving, or what is causing your grief?
Large Intestine (5am to 7am)
The Large Intestine is known as the ‘Minister of Transportation’, as it temporarily stores and transports digestive wastes for elimination. As it is a meridian of the metal element, which is known for decay, it is the final area for absorption of residual fluids, minerals and vitamins that have been broken down by previous organs.
The large intestine meridian also supports the lungs (the other meridian belonging to the metal element) in regulation of the skin’s pores and perspiration. Yet too it is dependant on the lungs with regulating abdominal pressure and thus assisting with bowel movements.
Thus if this meridian is low on energy, blocked or imbalanced symptoms may include sluggish bowel movements sluggish bowels, constipation or diarrhoea.
This is the best time for bowel elimination as well as deep breathing exercises. Metaphysically consider what you are retaining which you could let go of, or are you letting go of too much? What are you hanging onto which is toxic? Are you being too hard on yourself and/or others?
There are several healing modalities which use Chinese Medicine principles, including acupuncture, acupressure and Kinesiology. As Kinesiologists we do no diagnose, prescribe or treat so please remember to consult your doctor or counsellor when showing concerning signs of emotional or physical imbalance.