Whole and self contained
I have been busy teaching so apologies for the delay in this next Blog on the Extraordinary vessels and our time in the womb. The last blog is here. As so much happens in the first four weeks, I am writing a blog on each week. This week is the Extraordinary Vessels after conception: the first week. I have recently updated this blog.
The first week is very apt to write about at Easter time: as at the end of it we literally hatch out of the egg, exposing our outer body to come into our first anchored relationship with our mother. Enjoy learning about our first week in our shell.
“The bird fights its way out of the egg. The egg is the world. Who would be born must first destroy a world. The bird flies to God. That God’s name is Abraxas.”
― Hermann Hesse, Demian
These first weeks after conception are vital in understanding both the nature of our body and the Extraordinary vessels. We go through various forms which are transitory and it is only at, 4 weeks that we start to take a vertebral form which is more recognisable to our current body. Contrary to popular belief, we don’t add on parts and organs, we are whole from the beginning and I feel this links in beautifully to the Dao of Chinese medicine and the wholeness of the Extraordinary Vessels.
Themes of the first week after conception
Falling apart from the super cell into a new being.
This is a more physical manifestation of all 8 Extraordinary Vessels as the 8 totipotent cells: whole and self nourishing
Practical ideas for retaining this connection with the energy of the Extraordinary Vessels after conception
I am all I need: to know that we are whole within ourselves and have the capacity to support and maintain ourselves.
To be aware of our inner body and outer body
To be able to soften our borders in order to come into relationship
To know the limits for growth on our own. To be able to let go of the world as we knew it
To accept that in order to grow I need to make a new relationship with the outside: to not be afraid to acknowledge the need for support.
Destruction of one world brings the birth of a new one.
Work with the Extraordinary vessels
Yet again, we see the importance of these 8 Vessels
Meditations and exercises
Our capacity to be self nourishing and self contained
Our inner and outer body
On softening our borders and “hatching” out of the egg
What happens during this first week
I talked in the last blog about how the energies of heaven/earth; mother/ father and the ancestral line are expressed in the fertilised egg. Now in this first week, we see all these energies creating the new unique being which is us.
During the first 3 days, the super cell spirals apart into 2 cells then to 3 or 4 and then to 7 or 8 cells. This is happening within an unchanging space, as the outer layer of the egg has hardened like a shell. Each of these 8 cells is smaller and almost identical. We are literally falling apart into smaller aspects of ourselves.
At the 8 cell stage, the cells are known as totipotent cells. This means that each of the 8 contains within it the whole. Each of these cells can create not only our future human body but also our support structures of the placenta and fetal membranes, plus the amniotic sac. In ART ( assisted reproductive technologies) sometimes one of these 8 cells is removed to test the quality of the fertilised egg and the 7 cells remaining will still develop normally. This already is fascinating: “normally” according to western medicine. There surely must be some difference, even if only slight?
Is it not amazing to know that there are 8 Extraordinary Vessels and the Chinese describe these 8 Vessels as being the reservoir of all the different energies in the body and our connection to the world outside. Seeing 8 aspects of a whole, indicates to me how we need to relate to the 8 Vessels; not as 8 separate channels but as 8 interlinking channels each with the capacity of linking back to the whole.
Creation of an inner and outer body: still whole and self nourishing
After about 3 days however, something different starts to happen. The cells continue to fall apart in the same size container but now they start to form into two groups. A group of smaller cells which will be on the outside and a group of larger cells which cluster together against one side of the outer cells to from an inside. The outer cells divide more so that by the fourth day there are 100 cells to 10 of the inner cells .
Two bodies are now forming. The inner body will become the future human body and the amniotic sac and the umbilical cord. These cells are now called pluripotent cells because they are not yet differentiated and can become any structure in our body, although not our placenta and fetal membranes. It is our outer body which will become our placenta and fetal membranes. There is some communication between the two. As the inner cells have become more compacted, a fluid filled space opens up (blastocele). The image is from the useful website http://www.embryology.ch/
We are now called a blastocyst. The diagram shows:
1: the inner body
2: the egg shell: zona pellucida
3: the outer cell mass
4: the blasotcele: space
In terms of the Extraordinary Vessels we can not say simply that the inner body is related to Conception Vessel and outer body is Governing Vessel: because there is Yin and Yang in both. Of course, we can say that the outer body is more Yang, the placenta is more outer than the baby, but within the placenta is Yin and support.
The Extraordinary Vessels exist both within our body and the space around us
I see the idea of the inner and outer body as representing the nature of the wholeness and complexity of the Extraordinary Vessels. They exist both within our physical body and in the space around it. The space around us, often referred to as our “energy field” has its basis in this tangible reality of an outer body.
We can therefore say that the Extraordinary vessels after conception mediate our relationship with the space around us and will ultimately represent how we draw support from that space. I have already talked about how Governing, Conception, Penetrating and Girdle Vessels (Du, Ren Chong and Dai) connect us to our Jing, and family and pre conceptual energy. The second group, which I call the Outer Group are the Wei (Linking) and Qiao (Heel) vessels. These bring in a little more the sense of time and space but still also link beyond our physical body. They become more active after we are born. The Chinese refer to the Wei as being more about our connection to heaven and to the element of time and cycles and the Qiao as more about our connection to earth and our capacity to be present. Together these 4 vessels regulate the 4 directions in the body.
Our outer body is what will eventually put down roots in the uterus by literally burrowing into its lining. Our outer body is what is often accessed through the movements of exercises such as Qi Gong.
During this time we are completely self contained. All the nourishment we need comes from within ourselves. We don’t yet need to make a relationship with the outside. This is why fertilised eggs can develop for the first week outside the womb as in IVF. However eggs fertilised in the womb are moving: travelling down the fallopian tube and arriving in the uterus. At some point we will run out of nourishment and will not be able to grow anymore. This is when we need to implant in the wall of the uterus, so that we can start to take nourishment from outside.
Hatching out of the egg in order to take nourishment from outside: our first physical relationship
In order to implant, something new has to happen to our outer body. We literally have to hatch out of our container / shell of the egg like a chick hatching out of an egg. Our outer borders soften to get ready to implant. This is a little like an experience of birth. We could see this as a preparation for our birth from out of the womb approximately 9 months later. I find this interesting because each stage of our development helps prepare for another phase.
In terms of the Extraordinary vessels, I link this most with changes in the Girdle Vessel: the most outer aspect, that which contains us. However, all the Extraordinary vessels prepare for the creation of the first physical relationship with the mother.
I hope this helps expand your understanding of the importance and relevance of the Extraordinary Vessels during the first week after conception.