Little Life Hacks series: A River Runs Through Us

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I’ve dabbled in the energy meridian system for fifteen years. I’ve personally experienced acupuncture for much of those with great success. While I’ve learned about prana or qi/chi (energy) in yoga and have created class sequences to open those channels, it wasn’t until the last few years that I started diving deeper. During that time, I have studied applied kinesiology with corresponding organ systems and have learned acupressure points that can assist the body in finding harmony. I find it fascinating.

When I say organs, I’m considering the Eastern approach which views the bodily systems quite different than the Western. All systems in the body are connected and work together, not separately. In the eastern philosophy, if someone has liver stagnation or deficiency, it doesn’t mean they have a disease. It simply means the energy is not flowing to that area or through that meridian channel as readily as the body needs.

Meridians are like rivers. They run the length of the body with branches that flow from the crown of the head to the toes and the arms, hands and fingers. Each channel corresponds to an organ system and each organ system has related muscles. Basically, these energy channels flow throughout the body and keep health and vitality in the organs and muscles. Like a stream that has branches and twigs impeding the flow, when the meridians get blocked, it can impact health and well-being.

Something interesting is that there is a meridian clock also known as the Horary clock. This 24-hour clock has increments of time and every two-hour period is associated with a specific meridian and organ system. If the energy isn’t in harmony, someone may experience certain issues like sleep troubles. If they are having trouble sleeping or, more importantly, they wake in the middle of the night, it’s nice to know what time it is? This can provide a wealth of information.

Here’s the rundown on a few systems during the nighttime with the length of time and a little insight on each. You’ll notice that I’m also providing an easy, mindful approach to cultivate harmony without acupuncture needles. Of course, acupuncture is amazing as well as finding someone who performs acupressure to open the channels of flow.

9pm – 11pm – Triple Burner

  • During this time period you are preparing the body to settle down and hopefully fall asleep.  If stuck in the survival mode of flight or flight, you may have a racing mind and too stressed to fall asleep.  This system regulates immunity and our ancestral survival (physically and emotionally).  If out of balance, you may not be able to fall asleep or you wake up shortly after.
  • How can you find balance? Step away from blue light screens 90 minute prior to bedtime. Practicing a 10-15 minute restorative yoga routine before bedtime can assist the nervous system and/or a mantra meditation repeating to oneself “I am safe, I am relaxed” can help. Don’t dismiss a mantra if you’ve never tried it. We are what we think and say.

11pm – 1am – Gall Bladder

  • This meridian line is one I personally have sluggish activity with. This channel starts outside of the eye and lines run through the head. I notice head sensitivity when my flow slows. This meridian can be related to feelings of frustration with oneself or others.
  • How can you find balance? Loving kindness meditation can assist and journaling on forgiveness.

1am – 3am – Liver

  • Although I mentioned the gall bladder meridian is slow sometimes for me, the liver is my nemesis. In fact, the majority of people have slow energy flow in this meridian. It makes sense. The liver processes everything – what we eat, breathe, apply to our skin, unfriendly environmental factors and unprocessed emotions. Yes, emotions! In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), the liver is similar to the gall bladder. Imbalances can manifest as anger, frustration and even feelings of anxiousness. People who are hard on themselves may have a liver imbalance.
  • How can you find balance? Daily writings in a gratitude journal, practicing forgiveness, recognizing that you are enough and/or discovering what makes you happy.

3am – 5am – Lung

  • Moment by moment, breath by breath. Our one constant is breath. Whether you are aware of it or not, it’s there. In TCM, the lungs are associated with grief and letting go. It’s about allowing things to flow and releasing control. If someone is waking up during these hours (without intending to do so), is it possible that you are feeling unprocessed sadness?
  • How can you find balance? A “letting go” themed meditation can assist. Perhaps a visual of letting go like the leaves in this guided audio. Journaling on what emotions you recognize as you sit in silence is helpful.

5am – 7am – Large Intestine

  • We’re keeping the same theme as the lungs – letting go. This system is associated with releasing and eliminating toxins. You don’t want an accumulation of waste in the large intestine or in life. A build up of any kind is an energy zapper. If you’re in disharmony, you may have digestive or elimination issues and slow to let go. For others, this may be a natural time to wake.
  • How can you find balance? Either first thing in the morning or evening, write down what isn’t serving you. What can you let go of? A fun ritual I do in the beginning of the year is evaluate the previous year and write down on a sheet of paper what I need and want to release and then I place it in a metal bowl, perform a New Year meditation and then I light the papers in the bowl on fire. They burn and I let go. Of course, be mindful of where you do this. You don’t want the smoke alarm to go off. You can do this at any time in your year, not just the New Year.

The meridian clock in TCM and the circadian rhythm (which I’ll address in a future blog) are both influenced by lifestyle including our environment. Everything is connected and we can create harmony within. This allows our meridians to run optimally and provide quality health and energy. As I’ve always said, our bodies speak to us in symptoms whether it’s waking us up at a certain time at night or experiencing Takotsubo syndrome which mimics a heart attack in those experiencing heart ache. Listen to your body and take notes. Next time you wake up in the middle of the night and it isn’t due to a bathroom break, glance at the time (on a real clock, not a phone since blue light can disrupt getting back to sleep). This can provide some insight. If a friend or family member is having trouble sleeping, share this article with them.

If you like this article, join me in 2021 for monthly releases in our Little Life Hacks series. We’ll look at ways to reset your circadian rhythm, better breathing, dry brushing, red light therapy and more. #saslife

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About Author

Celeste Cooper-Peel, ND, MA, MCHES, CWHC, E-RYT

Wellness Manager

Celeste has been in the science, health and wellness field over twenty-five years. She began as a research chemist with a concentration in genetics and nutritional biochemistry. After working in the medical field, she saw the need to follow a path of proactive wellness and prevention. After receiving her Masters in Health Education, she ventured into the mind/body world receiving training in Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction and Yoga. Shortly after, she received the 2003 Wellness in the Workplace Award for a large health system in the state of Virginia. In 2004, Celeste joined SAS Institute, Inc. and continues to be passionate in her position overseeing Wellness. She believes curiosity and collaboration bring insight and new ideas which bring out the best in everyone from team members to those who are making healthy lifestyle changes. Believing that the body knows how to heal if given the proper tools, Celeste earned certifications in Aromatherapy and Essential Oils, Classical Chinese Medicine and Homeopathic & Naturopathic Medicine. She earned her Doctor of Naturopathy degree in 2020. Celeste is a published author, wife and mother and practices what she preaches and teaches. She is a nationally recognized Master Certified Health Education Specialist (MCHES) and has advanced certificates in Integrative and Functional Nutrition, Genetics and Genomics. She is an Experienced Registered Yoga Teacher (E-RYT) with the National Yoga Alliance, Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) Instructor, Certified Wellness and Health Coach (CWHC) and Certified Yoga Therapist (CYT). Follow @ccooperpeel on Twitter and Instagram.

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