Why are the Extraordinary Vessels so important during the Corona pandemic?
In this blog I explore why we need to work the Extraordinary Vessels in order to support what is happening to our bodies and our world due to Corona virus. Many people working with Chinese medicine think first of working the Lungs and the Triple Heater. However the Extraordinary Vessels offer a much deeper level of work for these organ systems. They also offer a more profound and complete response to support not only our physical body but our whole being in all the adaptations we are making. They support all the different emotions which are arising as well as the effects of our physical restrictions. They truly are Extraordinary and needed in this moment of profound change for us all as individuals, humanity and the earth and her atmosphere.
I look forward to hearing your comments on my thoughts and to developing the ideas I express in this article. Stay well and let’s grow from this time we are in.
Here is a link to a recent article I wrote for AOBTA on the Extraordinary Vessels.
There are also a number of other linked blogs at the end of this page. Here is another interesting one: Developing Yin to ground and relate.
The Extraordinary Vessels regulate the Lungs, the Triple Heater and more
We all know that Covid 19 affects the Lungs and then triggers an immune system response. Those of you who work with Chinese medicine may think that naturally then to support people during this time, we need to work with the Lung channel.
Of course this is true: but only to some extent. Why are some people more prone to stronger invasion of the virus than others? This is because of the immune system response, which is why people with underlying health conditions, especially auto immune diseases are at higher risk. This might lead you to think that the Three Burners which supports the immune system is important too. This is partly true, but not the whole picture.
While working with the Lungs and the Three Burners (Triple Heater) is important, we must not forget that the most fundamental energies to support the immune system, the lungs, and indeed all of our organs are the Extraordinary Vessels.
These vessels are the first to arise in physical form in the body (at around 3 weeks after conception) and all other organs and systems arise out of them. This means that they regulate the Lungs and the Triple Heater along with all organs, structures, emotions and systems in the body. They represent a much deeper level of regulation and support to the body than any of the 12 channels (of which Lungs and Triple Heater are a part). This is why they are said to be the overall regulators of Qi : the daily energy which circulates in the 12-channel system.
They are also an expression of our genetic inheritance (Essence: which in Chinese medicine is linked closely with our Kidneys) and support our immune system on the most fundamental level. Since the Extraordinary Vessels regulate everything in the body they are the ones which support the body when it has to make fundamental changes. This is partly why they are so important in pregnancy. The Essence or our reproductive energy changes, but everything in our body, physically and emotionally also has to change.
When our whole being, and not simply our physical body, is being challenged in the way it currently is, we need to be able to tap into this deeper level of support.
Extraordinary Vessels regulate our Defensive (Wei) Qi
Another reason for the importance of the Extraordinary Vessels is that, and sometimes people forget this aspect of them, they are also the overall regulators of our defensive Qi. This is what supports us when fighting off disease. The Lungs and Triple Heater support our defensive Qi, but not in such a complete way as the Extraordinary Vessels.
Defensive Qi is in the outer layers of our body and the immediate space around us. Our earliest outer body develops days after conception and are the cells which surround our future physical body. These cells eventually become our placenta and fetal membranes and are closely linked with our amniotic sac and umbilical cord. These structures arise out of the fertilised egg and so are expressions of the Extraordinary Vessels. They support us in the womb, but then disappear. However the Vessels retain the memory of our outer body and continue to protect the immediate space around us. Part of this protection is defensive Qi.
Defensive Qi protects our body from exterior pathogenic factors. This is linked in with our immune system but is also about how we adapt to the outer world. This includes both immediate responses to the outer world such as pathogens in the atmosphere (infections, exposure to toxic gases etc) as well as longer term adaptations such as living in polluted areas (e.g. by a busy road). It includes emotional adaptations as well, such as either being in supportive or abusive relationships.
This is what is happening now. Corona is a pathogen. The effects of the pathogen affect our individual body, but they are also changing the way in which we live due to the confinement under which most of us are living. It affects how we can move, or not move on the earth, the kind of air we can breathe, our relationships with others.
Extraordinary Vessels regulate our basic connection to earth and to the space around us
The effect which Corona is having on the life of everyone living on our planet, whether they are directly affected by the pathogen or not, can also be supported by the Extraordinary Vessels.
They help us regulate our most fundamental connections to the earth and to the space around us as well because they contain the original organisation of Yin and Yang in the body as we come from Heaven to Earth at the moment of conception. They also regulate how we leave our physical body at the moment of death. They help us to connect with why we are here and when we are ready to leave.
I have been working with an illustrator (Agata Alcañiz, a shiatsu student) to create new drawings of the Extraordinary Vessels which reflect this outer aspect of their nature.
So far we have completed the Linking Vessels and here is the diagram of the Yin Linking to give you some idea of the depth of its connection.
The Linking first connects with the Heaven and then draw the energy to the earth.
You will see that Yin Linking regulating point is Heart Protector 6 (Yin). This gives support to the Heart. Yang Linking regulating point is Triple Heater 5 and it has several Triple Heater points, so it has a strong connection with the immune system and Triple Heater.
Some specifics on how to work with the EV’s
If you don’t know much about the Extraordinary Vessels, I have written several blogs on them including a recent article for the American shiatsu society ( AOBTA). This goes into more depth on the Yin aspects of the EV’s nature.
They are a circuit of 8 channels. However they are much more connected to each other than the 12 channels and share 4 fundamental organs: the Brain, Kidneys, Heart and Reproductive organs. Connecting with these organs through touch or meditation is a simple way to support the energy of all 8 channels.
Here is a visualisation I recorded for pregnancy, but it can be adapted for use with other clients. I share it as well because pregnant women need our support during this time.
Since the Vessels exist in space, they are ideal for supporting with online sessions. Indeed, I often begin by getting my clients to place a hand over each of these organs, linking 2 at a time, as a way of assessing what is going on, before I guide them through breathing, exercise or touch. .Kidneys are accessed through placing a hand over the lumbar spine (L2/3 or GV4: Gate of Life). In times of huge change we often need to draw upon our Essence, stored in the Kidneys, and it welcomes supportive touch. The Heart is often agitated, and it is important to find how it can be anchored. Often the Heart- Reproductive organs connection (accessed through the lower abdomen) is grounding, but it may be that the Heart-Kidney connection is more calming.
The earthing aspect of the Vessels is often needed to help people feel supported. Penetrating Vessel is a slow deep connection moving from the lower abdomen along the inside of the legs to connect with the earth. The Stepping Vessels are more about how we move and adapt in the current movement. I have posted a video of some exercises for the Stepping Vessel which you can view.
There are points on each vessel which regulate them. It is interesting that Lung 7 is one of these points. It is a thumb width and a half from the wrist fold on the thumb side of the hand (thumb is where the Lung channel passes). Lung 7 also supports the Stepping Vessel, but it is the main regulating point for the Conception Vessel. Conception Vessel is the front midline of the body, running from the perineum through to the mouth and it regulates all the Yin energies in the body.
CV is not tethered to earth in the same way that the Stepping Vessels and Penetrating Vessel are and represents how we are able to support ourselves regardless of what is going on outside. It is about our ability to rise beyond the immediate outer situation and draw upon our inner resources. This can be a great Vessel to work now. Again it is simple: we can simply palm along our front midline. I find that since people , especially in lockdown, are stimulating their brain a lot and connecting with space, it is usually best to slowly palm from the throat down to the lower abdomen.
I hope this blog gives you some ideas of how you can support yourself and your clients with the Extraordinary Vessels. These are challenging times but also very creative times. We are being challenged to draw on our inner resources to create new ways of being and the Vessels help us to do this…