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Home >> Qigong Notes >> Chapter Three

The Meridian System -- Their Significance

Prepared by K. L. Tan

Our spirit uses the energy system which works through the network of meridians and points that channel energy through the body. They are the means of controlling the central nervous system.

The meridians and their vital points have two basic functions. One is to circulate and distribute energy to organs, glands, brain, limbs, bones, and other tissues of the body. The other is to send warning signals back to the brain (biofeedback) whenever an organ is ailing or an area of the body over which a meridian passes is injured. The brain then responds by triggering healing and repair mechanisms via the nervous system. The human healing response is thus regulated by a closed circuit electrical control system which links the energy system to the nervous, endocrine, and circulatory systems, with the brain serving as the central switchboard.

Sceptical Western trained doctors continue to deny the existence of the human energy system, simply because they cannot see it, claiming instead that it is nothing more than a manifestation of the nervous system. That is like denying radio waves exist because they cannot be seen, even though we can manipulate them over vast distances. Acupuncturists can easily demonstrate the manipulation of human energy to send signals throughout the body. The energy system overrides the nervous system because the nervous system operates by virtue of signals carried by neurotransmitters, which are forms of essence, while the energy system functions purely by energy.

Our Body's Nervous System

The body actions that are under our direct conscious control, are controlled by the voluntary nervous system.

The autonomic nervous system or central nervous system, parasympathetic nervous system, sympathetic nervous system, vegetative nervous system that regulates vital functions of the body that are not consciously controlled. It is therefore the involuntary nervous system. It's control includes the activity of the heart, the smooth muscles (as digestive muscles) and the glands; and acts to regulate and coordinate bodily activities and initiate responses that help the body to adjust to environmental changes.

The autonomic nervous system has two divisions: the sympathetic nervous system speeds up heart rate, narrows blood vessels, and raises blood pressure (thus considered associated with stress); the parasympathetic nervous system slows down heart rate, increases intestinal and gland activity, and relaxes ring like muscles that close passages - sphincters (therefore considered more restful or calming in nature).

All the signals are sent out from the brain by way of our nervous system. The signals are transmitted through a nerve fibre network to the organs and glands, or to the muscles. The net result is that vital essence such as hormones and neurochemicals are stimulated to provide for growth, digestion or action.

Beginning practitioners of qigong often ask why qigong exercises must always be performed like a slow motion movie. Speed is the scourge of modern life and the enemy of rest and relaxation. In the mad rush to "save time", people today subject their central nervous systems to such extreme and chronic states of hypertension that they undermine their own health and shorten their own lives by wasting precious reserves of energy in a self-defeating battle against time.

The psychological and physiological effect of performing soft slow movements together with deep diaphragmatic breathing is to change over the autonomous nervous system from the chronically overactive sympathetic mode to the calming, restorative parasympathetic mode in which the body's various vital functions and energies are balanced and harmonized and the secretions of vital essence such as hormones and neurochemicals are stimulated.

In order to start this switch-over in our nervous circuitry, we must perform the exercises slowly, softly, and smoothly with a calm and quiet mind. Once the parasympathetic system has taken over control of the central nervous system, its calming influence helps to promote and maintain mental tranquillity.

It is in this way that qigong counteracts the chronic stress and strain of daily life on the body as well as the mind, which in Chinese medicine are inseparable, and restores optimum equilibrium to essence, energy, and spirit. Qigong balances the depleting Yang fire energy of the temporal life by cultivating the soothing, restorative Yin water energy derived from hormones and neurochemicals.

To put this into a modern concept, qigong orchestrates perfect balance between body and brain by establishing a condition of beneficial biofeedback between the nervous and endocrine systems. This fosters a form of energy called "True Energy" (Jen Qi), which is the basis of human health and longevity.

This same mechanism in modern medical terms has been described by Kathy Keeton in the May 1992 issue of Omni magazine.

"Over the past ten years, there has been an explosion of evidence linking the power of the mind to the health of the body, and experts in the new field of psycho- neuroimmunology, or PNI, are gaining a greater understanding of how the brain and body can cooperate to fight off illness. It's been discovered, for one thing, that there are nerve fibres in the thymus, the immune system's master gland, as well as in the spleen, the lymph nodes, and the bone marrow - all vital parts of the immune system. Some immune system cells have receptors for neuropeptides, chemicals that are produced within the brain itself. In other words, there's a growing body of evidence to suggest that the brain talks directly to the immune system via this electrochemical version of AT&T."

Over the past 5,000 years in China, Daoist science has accumulated a vast reservoir of evidence linking the powers of body and mind, neurology and immunology, and has developed specific techniques for activating that link, but only recently have Western investigators taken a serious look at this remarkably effective system of human health care.

Qigong seeks to balance the internal stillness of meditation with the external activity of martial arts. It has thus been characterised as being a form of moving meditation. Meditation is the key of internal control.

You, the qigong practitioner will need to develop an adequate proficiency in the control of mind over body to benefit fully from the utilisation of the qi within and around us. Practice qigong everyday for good health and longevity.

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Copyright (c) 2000 K.L.Tan, Jane X. Jin. All rights reserved.