Chinese Meridians: A Closer Look, Part 4 – Tracing Energy Meridians

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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 Video Resource  |  Awesome Acupuncture And Meridian Charts   |  The Chinese Meridians Controversy


Part four completes this series about the Chinese Meridians, with the simple technique of meridian tracing for self healing and health maintenance. There’s a video demonstration from Energy Medicine expert, Donna Eden, that will have you tracing your meridians like an expert, in no time; and I’ve found some awesome, acupuncture meridian charts, and meridian videos, for you. For those who still have doubts, the controversy around the energy meridians is covered, at the end of the article.

I’m assuming that by now you’re familiar with the concept of chi (qi) and yin yang, and that you’ve read the preceding parts of this series. Or,  you already know all about the Chinese meridian system, and the idea of having an energy body.

Meridian Tracing

Why Trace Your Energy Meridians?

For a healthy physical body, we know we need to balance our endocrine system, and our digestive system, (along with others). But, it’s just as important to balance our energy systems for a healthy energy body.

Luckily, there are several ways to do this, one of which is the process of tracing the meridians.

You may not be able to see the energy travelling around your body but you will certainly feel the effects of overactive, sluggish or blocked vessels.

So, what affects the flow of chi?

There are many factors that can disrupt your energy flow. For a lot of people, today’s world is almost unbearably hectic and stressful. Our bodies have to deal with more chemical, electromagnetic, and emotional stressors than ever before.

“The stressors we face daily tend to send our most vulnerable meridians into a frenzy of overwork, or alternatively, virtual shutdown.”
–  Donna Eden, Energy Medicine

When this happens, the other channels get “caught up” in the crisis as they try to restore balance to the energy body. The resulting drain on your energy reserves can leave you feeling tired, irritable and vulnerable to every “bug” that comes your way.

You’ll be pleased to know, then, that you can prevent this crisis and overload from occurring – you can at least reduce its impact – by following a simple daily routine to encourage the flow of qi.

This procedure, called meridian tracing, is quick and easy to do, once you’ve practiced it a few times.

What Is Meridian Tracing?

Giant Buddha Statue With Hand On Knee | Was He Tracing His Meridians? It has nothing to do with tracing paper, but as the name suggests, you trace the pathways of the 12 main meridians on yourself.

This is done with the palm of your hand either touching your body or up to a few inches away from it.

If you prefer, you can use one or two fingers to draw the lines of the energy meridians. Some people think this is more accurate, but it’s not really necessary. It’s not like acupuncture where you have to use pin-point precision, so it’s perfectly fine to use your whole hand to do the tracing.

As you move your hand along the vessel’s path, following its normal direction of flow, the electromagnetic energy in your hand will encourage the movement of qi  through the energy meridians.

Chi also follows thought, so for parts of your body that you cannot reach, simply picture the line in your mind, or imagine moving your hand over that section.

What’s The Benefit Of Tracing Your Body’s Energy Channels?

Meridian tracing smooths and balances your life force stream, and helps to release blockages, bringing some relief for physical, emotional and mental ailments. It also increases your vitality, and builds your immune system.

The main focus is to strengthen and balance the movement of chi.

Tracing in the normal direction of flow will strengthen the meridian.

Tracing against the flow, in the opposite direction to normal, will calm and sedate the vessel by releasing excess energy.

Although this also has the end result of strengthening the meridian, it’s important to always finish each section by tracing in the normal direction of flow.

Chi Dancers Tracing Light and Energy

Why does this matter?

Well, calming the channel’s energy flow does not necessarily equate to YOU feeling calm. Think of the saying about rubbing people up the wrong way, meaning they’re irritated.

Or imagine grooming your dog or cat’s coat by brushing the fur in the wrong direction, and leaving it that way. Going against the natural lie of the hair is great for cleaning out the dirt and loose hairs (think, clogged energy) but you always finish off with smoothing strokes in the normal direction, unless you want an irritated and scruffy-looking pet. Smile

So be kind to yourself, and always complete the tracing of any meridian by moving the energy in the natural direction of flow.

Donna Eden’s Video Demonstration Of Meridian Tracing

The videos below take you through the routine of meridian tracing, led by Donna Eden, who is a pioneer in Energy Medicine. Together with her husband, David Feinstein, she has written several great books on the subject. She is an enthusiastic and talented teacher, and a joy to learn from.

THE FIRST PART OF THE VIDEO shows step by step, how to do the tracing on yourself. It includes diagrams of each of the 12 main energy channels, for you to follow. You can watch this as many times as you want, to learn the routine. The video is from 2007 and is a little grainy but it still shows the process quite clearly.

THE SECOND PART OF THE VIDEO, shows how to trace the meridians on someone else.

Donna Eden’s routine begins with her trademark “three thumps” (on the k27, thymus and spleen points). Meridians sometimes run backwards but these three thumps make sure that your chi is going in the right direction before you begin the tracing process. Donna starts and finishes with the two extraordinary vessels; the conception vessel up the front (that she calls the central vessel), and the governing vessel up the back of the body.

for an excellent demonstration of How To Trace The Meridians.

Tip: The tracing demonstration starts at 2:09, after a short introduction,
and lasts about 8 minutes. Meridian tracing on someone else starts at 11:36.

You may have noticed that each of the 12 energy meridians are traced in the same order that they appear in the meridian clock. After doing the two extraordinary vessels, Donna Eden starts with the spleen channel, (she explains why on the video) but you can start with any of them.

Traditional Chinese Medicine emphasises the importance of the lung vessel, so this can also be a good starting point.

The order( as seen in Ms. Eden’s video above) is: the Central (Conception) and Governing vessels; followed by the Spleen, Heart, Small Intestine, Bladder, Kidney, Pericardium (Circulation-Sex), Triple Warmer, Gall Bladder, Liver, Lung, Large Intestine and Stomach meridians, and a repeat of the Central and Governing tracing.

Once you’re familiar with the routine, it will only take 2 to 3 minutes to complete.

For more information on Energy Medicine and tracing the meridians, I personally recommend the book,

Energy Medicine – Balancing Your Body’s Energies For Optimal Health, Joy, And Vitality by Donna Eden and David Feinstein, Ph.D.

This excellent book covers Ms. Eden’s meridian tracing (from the video) in greater detail, plus chakras, neurolymphatic points and more. It’s a great resource for any self-healer!

It’s important to know that Donna Eden is “the real deal”.  She lives what she teaches and it has saved her life! Her knowledge about energy healing comes from personal experience. Donna had to find her own natural solutions for her severe health issues, when her doctors couldn’t help. My hat goes off to her!

It’s incredible how bubbly and joyful Donna is, considering what she’s been through since age five. She has battled many life-threatening health conditions, including tuberculosis; severe food allergies; multiple sclerosis; severe asthma; a breast tumour and hypoglycaemia.

She came close to dying in her early thirties but through her own exploration and discoveries, Donna Eden created the strong, glowingly healthy person that she is today. You can be sure that she understands what you’re going through and knows how to help you.

If you’d like to buy Donna Eden and David Feinstein’s masterpiece of energy healing wisdom from, click on the blue underlined link in the image on the left.


‘Naughty’ Meridian Resource

Are you tired of meridian drawings that only show an outline of the human body? Would you like to see them in relation to “surface anatomy”, so you know exactly where the energy pathways are?

If so, then check out this set of 12 excellent video graphics that show each individual energy channel with a coloured line drawn over the skin, and an animated sphere of white light that clearly traces the path. The videos are short, mostly less than 45 secs long.


12 Meridians Video by Marcelo Garcia

To watch one or more of the energy meridian videos,
CLICK ON THE IMAGE ABOVE to open a new page.

Awesome Acupuncture Charts

There are specific acupuncture points on the meridians for strengthening and for sedating the energy flow. These energy hot spots can be stimulated with needles or pressure or tapping.

Since this site is about self healing, and acupuncture is normally administered by another person, this series does not cover specific acupuncture points, of which there are over 500 in number. Also, that topic is a book in itself!

Living Acupuncture Meridian Chart By The Fifth Element However, if you want an awesome chart with all the acupuncture points, clearly shown on a living person, then take a look at The Fifth Element website. Their charts use the standard, set by the WHO, Committee for Harmonization of Traditional Oriental Medicine.

They may just be the most accurate, acupuncture and meridian charts ever produced. Every point was painstakingly located and verified by measurement, palpation and patient response. It took many hours to complete this exacting work of art and the young man was patient in more ways than one! There are three types of charts: Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM); Zen; and combined TCM and Zen.

The Controversy About Energy Meridians


Not everyone agrees about the true nature of the human energy channels and the life force that flows through them. There are some differences of opinion that I feel it is worthwhile mentioning, and then you can make up your own mind regarding the usefulness of this information for you.

Is the Chinese Meridian System a creation born of misunderstanding and poor translation, as some believe?

The Huangdi Neijing, Chinese Medicine Text

TCM is founded on the Huangdi Neijing (The Yellow Emperor’s Inner Canon) which contains the teachings of the mythical Yellow Emperor, Huangdi. His wisdom and knowledge are recorded, as questions and answers, in a huge text divided into two parts.

The first part called the Huangdi Suwen, covers the founding principles and theory of Chinese medicine. The lesser known, second part called the Huangdi Lingshu, covers acupuncture in great detail.

It is believed to be written some time between 400 BCE and 260 CE, at least a hundred years AFTER the death of the Yellow Emperor. The authors are unknown.

The Problem With Translation

There is always a problem with translating concepts from one language, to another; and individual words that seem to be the same in meaning, may have cultural aspects attached to them that change the interpretation.

To quote an advertisement from years ago… “oils ain’t oils”, meaning that not all oils are the same. Not exactly, anyway. Therefore, the word oil doesn’t define the quality or nature of a specific oil.

In this case, blood ain’t blood, and chi ain’t chi.

In western medicine, the word blood refers to the red liquid in our arteries, veins and capillaries. It is a mixture of plasma and cells. The function of blood is not part of the definition. To the Chinese, however, the word ‘blood’ covers both the physical components  AND the function of blood.

Chi is generally translated as energy, but others think this is incorrect. Chi also means air, INCLUDING the life-giving properties of air when it’s taken into the lungs. We now know that the life-giving property of air is oxygen, but the ancient Chinese didn’t know this.

So the idea of vital energy(chi) flowing via the vascular and other channels, may have been referring to oxygen carried in the blood stream.

The Chinese word, mai, which is used in the names of the meridians, means vessel but it also includes the movement within it. This could have been referring to the pulse, and/or the blood vessels, instead of invisible channels carrying life force energy.

The problem with words that have multiple meanings is that the meaning depends on the context of their use, and subtle inflections of the voice, that can’t be written down. They are ‘tripping zones’ for the unwary translator.

Think of the word, like, in English. It is used to show appreciation for something or someone; it indicates a similar nature or quality; and in recent times, it has replaced the “umm” as a meaningless pause in everyday speech.

And for a bit of fun, here’s an over-the-top example, “I like the way that, like, people can, like, act like angels when their friends are, like, needing a hand”.

Of course, Chinese language has many words with multiple meanings, and while the confusion would hopefully not be as much as the above sentence, there is still a possibility of misunderstanding.

Regarding the accuracy of the translation of the Huangdi Neijing, it’s important to keep in mind that…

The Huangdi Neijing was written by several different authors – each with their own perspective, in an ancient Chinese language that was no longer in use at the time the text was translated.
The translators came from different eras; different countries and cultures; and from different philosophical backgrounds and beliefs. So, of course there are disagreements!


Is Meridian The Right Translation?

Some people believe that the term ‘meridian’, is an incorrect translation of ‘jing luo’ which literally means, ‘channel network’. The term is attributed to George Soulie de Morant, the French author of L’acuponcture Chinoise. (Chinese Acupuncture).

This book became a classic for acupuncture study and was highly regarded for many years, but now the accuracy of his translation is being questioned, along with his authenticity.

Book cover for Chinese Acupuncture by George Soulie de Morant It’s sort of amusing to think that one of the pillars of western teaching of acupuncture may have got it wrong. What if he made up bits to fill the gaps in his understanding?

His ability to translate ancient Chinese is now being questioned but what if he was a ghost writer and someone else gave him the translation? Maybe he was the conduit for passing the knowledge of Chinese methods of healing to the west, and as the author he had to pretend that he knew more than he did about energy channels and acupuncture. That would explain his apparent lack of skill that some modern acupuncture experts talk about.

The scientific viewpoint is that jing luo refers to blood vessels, rather than invisible energy channels. What if this is right, and all these years, we’ve been searching for something that doesn’t exist?

However, it’s equally possible that Monsieur Soulie de Morant was half right. Maybe jing luo had a dual meaning in the ancient text. It could have meant energy channels, (that he called meridians), part of the time, and blood vessels at other times. The two are not mutually exclusive. And maybe qi (chi) sometimes meant something like the modern word ‘energy’, and maybe it also meant the life-giving property of air.

Considering that the whole second section of the Huangdi Neijing was about acupuncture, with very specific locations for acupuncture points, it’s unlikely that the discussion was only about blood vessels and circulation of oxygen. There is not a consistent link between acupuncture points and blood vessel structure. Nor do the energy vessel and blood vessel pathways match.

Whether the variations in translation, matter to you or not, is for you to decide.

For now, science is struggling to prove the existence of energy channels, while blood vessels are easy to see and study.

Keep in mind that it’s much simpler to reject the ideas that don’t fit with what you already know to be true, than to leap into the unknown.

During my physiotherapy training, I dissected a human body with other classmates. We found arteries, veins and nerves, muscles and tendons, and plenty of connective tissue, but we certainly never saw any evidence of meridians. Mind you, we weren’t looking for them at the time.

Yet, somehow, I know (and maybe you do too) that we are more than the physical; more than we can see and feel. Although the ability to see chi, is not one of my skills, my ability to feel it has been strengthened by doing reiki; light-body work, and qigong. This awareness no doubt makes it easier to believe in the concept of energy meridians.

The idea of invisible energy or vital life force flowing through hidden channels is a hard one for scientific minds to swallow. This is why so many people scoff at the idea of energy medicine, whether it’s reiki or qigong, or emotional freedom technique or any other form that can’t be proven yet.

The difference of opinion is fine, but we could all do without the scoffing!



By now, you’re either sitting comfortably with all this unseen energy and Chinese meridians system detail, or you’re feeling a bit overwhelmed.

Well done in either case!

If you were skeptical at the beginning, hopefully, you’re less so now… not because it matters to me whether you believe in energy meridians or not, but because it may matter to you!

Rejecting things outright closes doors, destroys opportunities, and shuts down your energy.

Any time that happens, you can open up the energy by asking yourself this question, ”What if I allow the possibility of ________________________?”  [the thing you’re rejecting]

This is easier than allowing the rejected thing outright, and if you are sensitive to such things, you will feel your energy lighten.

It’s not necessary to remember all the details of the 12 meridians – their names and cycles of peak activation; how they are paired with the Chinese elements; or which ones are yin, and which ones are yang.

Nor do you need to remember the Chinese names of the 8 extraordinary vessels; or their functions and associated physical issues. After all, you can come back to this series as frequently as you like.

What I hope you gain from this, as a minimum, is a useful perspective for using your own energy to heal yourself.

Theories and concepts are great; life doesn’t expand much without them, but it’s the practical application of the ideas that creates the necessary change.

Try Donna Eden’s meridian tracing routine. It costs you nothing to try it. Play with the breathing visualization that is in the radiant energy field section of part 1, and keep an open mind about your life force energy.

If you’re not already practicing Qigong, then give it a go. You might be pleasantly surprised by the boost to your energy levels, balance, strength and flexibility.

Thanks for visiting today. This series was extremely long, and I’m grateful that you stayed ’til the end. Hopefully, it was worth your time and attention.


Go here next to read about the meridian research or perhaps you’d like to check out the qigong home training courses

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