Chinese Meridians: A Closer Look, Part 3 – Extraordinary Vessels

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Chinese meridians | magnifying the energy systemThis Series On The Chinese Meridians includes:
Part 1:
Introduction  |  Meridian Definition  |  Meridian System Or Network Of Body Meridians  |  The 12 Meridians And Meridian Chart  |  Main Physical And Psychological Relationships For The 12 Meridians  |  Radiant Energy Field
Part 2:
Classifying The 12 Main Chinese Meridians  |  Yin And Yang Energy Meridians  |  Arm And Leg Meridians  |  The Chinese Meridian Clock
Part 3:
Relative Qualities Of The 12 Meridians (chart)  |  The Eight Extraordinary Vessels  |  Summary Of The Eight Extraordinary Vessels (Chart)  |  Chinese Transversal Lo Vessels
Part 4:
Meridian Tracing  |  Donna Eden’s Meridian Tracing Videos  |  ‘Naughty’ Meridian Videos Resource  |  Awesome Acupuncture And Meridian Charts  |  The Chinese Meridians Controversy


Part three offers a unique summary chart of the 12 meridians, and gives more detail on the previously mentioned eight extraordinary vessels. This includes information on the Governing Vessel or Du Mai; Conception Vessel  or Ren Mai; and Central Vessel  or Chong Mai. These three extraordinary vessels are strongly emphasised in qigong exercises and in qigong healing. The Transversal Lo vessels are also given a brief mention.

Of the twenty main energy channels mentioned in part one of this series, the 12 meridians are the ones most commonly included in acupuncture treatments, and other forms of energy healing related to meridian therapy.

This is probably why there is more known about their qualities than those of the so-called eight extraordinary vessels.

Funny Monkey face | Did You Say Extraordinary?

The chart below shows as much of the previously discussed characteristics and groupings of the twelve principal energy channels, as is possible. There is too much to fit in every detail but all the meridian clock features are included.

Relative Qualities Of The 12 Meridians

Including Details From The Chinese Meridian Clock
* Direction of flow is related to standing with your arms above your head
Meridians in Order of Peak ActivationMost Active
Least Active
Opp
Pair
Yin
Yang
Related
Element
Limb
Group
Direct’n
of flow*
Qi flows
from/to
LUNG (LU)3am – 5am
3pm – 5pm
BLYinMetalArmUpChest
to hand
LARGE INTESTINE (LI)5am – 7am
5pm – 7pm
KIYangMetalArmDownHand
to face
STOMACH (ST)7am – 9am
7pm – 9pm
PCYangEarthLegDownFace
to foot
SPLEEN (SP)9am – 11am
9pm – 11pm
TWYinEarthLegUpFoot
to chest
HEART (HT)11am – 1pm
11pm – 1am
GBYinFireArmUpChest
to hand
SMALL INTESTINE (SI)1pm – 3pm
1am – 3am
LVYangFireArmDownHand
to face
BLADDER (BL)3pm – 5pm
3am – 5am
LUYangWaterLegDownFace
to foot
KIDNEY (KI)5pm – 7pm
5am – 7am
LIYinWaterLegUpFoot
to chest
PERICARDIUM (PC) Circulation-sex7pm – 9pm
7am – 9am
STYinFireArmUpChest
to hand
TRIPLE WARMER (TW) Triple Heater / Burner, San Jiao9pm – 11pm
9am – 11am
SPYangFireArmDownHand
to face
GALL BLADDER (GB)11pm – 1am
11am – 1pm
HTYangWoodLegDownFace
to foot
LIVER (LV)1am – 3am
1pm – 3pm
SIYinWoodLegUpFoot
to chest

The Eight Extraordinary Vessels


What’s In A Name?

The Eight Extraordinary Vessels are also known as the Eight Curious Vessels; the Eight Irregular Vessels, and the Eight Miraculous Meridians.

Although it’s tempting to shorten the name to the Eight Extra vessels, this is not correct. There’s a big difference between calling something extraordinary and calling it extra.

Why Are They Extraordinary?

There are a couple of reasons why these meridians are labelled curious, miraculous, and extraordinary, and it’s all to do with their nature.

They are core energy channels that run deeper in the body, either behind or below the principal 12 meridians. Since they are linked to the embryonic stage of human development, it is thought that they hold prenatal qi, or your original life force!

8 Extraordinary Vessels | Cosmic Energy
These energy reservoirs balance and regulate the flow of life force energy in the entire meridian system. They control the amount of Qi (chi) in the other 12 meridians; by either receiving the excess energy, or supplementing a diminished flow. They also regulate the yin yang balance. Now, that’s extraordinary!

These Extraordinary Vessels have no direct connection to the body’s organs, except for the brain and uterus, but they can still influence all the organs via their connections to the 12 meridians.

Classification Of The Extraordinary Vessels

The eight channels of this part of the Chinese meridians system are divided into pairs of primary and secondary vessels. (See the table below)

The Four Primary Vessels are:

  1. Ren Mai  – Conception Channel (mai translates as vessel)
  2. Du Mai – Governing Channel
  3. Chong Mai – Penetrating  or Central Channel
  4. Dai Mai – Girdle or Belt Channel

What makes these four particularly extraordinary, is that they are the only single channels in the ‘top 20’ of the meridian system. All the others are bilateral. This means that the four primary vessels fulfill a special function of dividing the body in halves (energetically).

The Du Mai, Ren Mai and Chong Mai, all divide it into left and right; and the Dai Mai creates an upper  and lower division. The Chong Mai also defines the central core of the body and energetically ‘separates’ it from the periphery.

The conception (ren mai) and governing (du mai) vessels are sometimes included as an additional pair in the principal meridian group, bringing the number up to 14, but they are not a true pair. Unlike the 12 meridian pairs, they have no interconnecting vessels between them.

The Four Secondary Vessels are:

  1. Yin Qiao Mai – the Yin Heel Channel
  2. Yang Qiao Mai – the Yang Heel Channel
  3. Yin Wei Mai – the Yin Linking Channel
  4. Yang Wei Mai – the Yang Linking Channel

These four are not often referred to in qigong practice, but they are important for acupuncture treatment and other Traditional Chinese Medicine healing methods. See the table below for details about all eight extraordinary meridians.

Energy can flow in either direction but normally flows upwards in the extraordinary channels, (except for the horizontally flowing Dai Mai). In the Microcosmic Orbit Meditation, the energy in Ren Mai is encouraged to temporarily flow downward to complete the circular flow of Qi.

Qualities Of The Eight Extraordinary Vessels

PRIMARY VESSELS: Single channels
operating within the torso
Paired
With
SECONDARY VESSELS: Bilateral channels
in legs, torso and head
CONCEPTION VESSEL (CV)  or REN MAI

  • “Sea of Yin” vessel – receives all of the Qi from the yin meridians.
  • Has its own acupuncture points
  • Travels from pelvic floor, up the midline of the front of the body, to the lower lip
  • Regulates female cycles, menstruation, reproduction; affects male genitalia, impotence, libido.
  • Important part of qigong practices, e.g Microcosmic Orbit Meditation
YIN HEEL VESSEL or YIN QIAO MAI

  • Yin vessel
  • Uses acupuncture points of main meridians
  • Located in feet, medial side of legs, torso, eyes and brain
  • Regulates gait and vision. Associated with digestive, urogenital & respiratory issues; excess sleepiness; hot flashes.
  • Together with yang heel vessel, it balances the lateral and medial surfaces of the body.

GOVERNING VESSEL (GV)  or DU MAI

  • “Sea of Yang” vessel – regulates all of the yang channels
  • Has its own acupuncture points
  • Travels from pelvic floor up the midline of the back to the top of the head and down the front to the top lip
  • Associated with spine; spinal cord; brain; cerebrospinal fluid; pain & swelling in head and face.
  • Important for qigong cycling of Qi exercises
  • Strengthens Guardian Qi (Wei Qi)
YANG HEEL VESSEL or YANG QIAO MAI

  • Yang vessel
  • Uses acupuncture points of main meridians
  • Located in feet, lateral side of legs, torso, eyes and brain
  • Regulates gait and vision. Associated with leg numbness, weakness, and spasm; plus eyes; face; headache and insomnia.
  • Together with yin heel vessel, it balances the lateral and medial surfaces of the body.

PENETRATING VESSEL (PV) or CHONG MAI
Also called the Central Channel

  • Yin and Yang vessel
  • Regulates Qi in the 12 regular meridians
  • “Sea of Blood” vessel – regulates menstruation; and associated with arteries
  • Uses acupuncture points of main meridians
  • From lower pelvis up the front of the spinal column to the crown of head
  • Very important in qigong practice
  • Can be linked to heart pain; depression; infertility; asthma. Brings Kidney Qi upwards
YIN LINKING VESSEL  or  YIN WEI MAI

  • Links all the yin meridians
  • Uses acupuncture points of main meridians
  • Located in legs, trunk and head
  • Promotes internal balance
  • Together with the Yang Wei Mei, it balances the interior and exterior functions and surfaces of the body
  • Associated with blood circulation; heart/chest pain; depression; mid and low back pain; abdominal distension and pain.
GIRDLE OR BELT VESSEL (GV)  or DAI MAI

  • Yin and Yang vessel
  • The only horizontally flowing channel
  • Uses acupuncture points of main meridians
  • Circles the waist; binds all the 12 vertical channels, plus CV, GV and PV
  • Connects the upper and lower body, and the front and back. Regulates upward and downward flow of Qi in the torso
  • Associated with mid body issues- abdomen and back; muscle weakness in low back & legs; strength of waist area; supports abdominal organs
  • Responsible for horizontal balance (mental and physical)
YANG LINKING VESSEL  or YANG WEI MAI

  • Links all the yang meridians
  • Uses acupuncture points of main meridians
  • Located in legs, trunk and head
  • Balances outside (external region) of body, and left with right side. Sides of hips, eyes ears
  • Associated with the Wei Qi (protective layer)
  • Role in musculoskeletal and immune systems
  • Associated with pain or distension in lumbar region; alternating fevers and chills.

Transversal Lo Vessels


The details of these linking vessels are not needed for Qigong or other self-administered, energy healing practices. They are only included for educational reasons.

As The Name Suggests, These Channels Are Tranverse, Joining Vessels.
They link the element pairs of the principal meridians, for example the lung and large intestine meridians. There are two transversal lo vessels for each pair of the 12 meridians, except for the heart and small intestine, which have only one horizontal linking vessel.

There Are Over 50 Linking Vessels In The Meridian System.
As well as the transversal lo vessels, there are longitudinal lo vessels; tendinomuscular meridians; and divergent meridians…… continued in part 4

GO HERE NEXT FOR PART 4 >>

<< Return To Part 1  |  Part 2

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