It sounds biblical, doesn't it? Let me preface this introduction to our primary meridians by expressing my deep gratitude to Dr. Michael Greenwood and his son for these amazing illustrations FIG. 1 and FIG. 2. . The Chong Mai and Dai Mai. Forward view with dotted lines indicating posterior trajectories. Graphic by Richard Greenwood, BFA, MA, and used with permission.
Classically, the 8 Extra Meridians were used to treat issues that occur prior to growth and development. At conception, the moment that egg and sperm come together gives rise to the Chong Mai (Penetrating vessel. You will see Mai or "vessel" attached to many of these names in Chinese. It denotes the pathway or road). In classical oriental medical theory, the CHONG is sourced by essence, a mysterious, somewhat ambiguous term that was never really defined in graduate school. Most OM theorists refer to essence as "seminal essence" and this translates to egg and sperm, also called jing, the most primal and yin of all vital fluids. It is considered a physical manifestation of the essence. We were taught that this precious fluid was finite, dictated by your DNA (and karma LOL), and could not be replenished. Birth is a sleigh ride descent into death as far as your jing is concerned,
Once a fetus is born, the secondary vessels (referred to as the Wei's (Linking) and Qiao's (Heel)) become dominant. In classical OM theory, the Chong, Ren, and Du Mai provide an operational blueprint, so to speak, with the essence energy (or soul in certain religious traditions) holding the intention and the genetic blueprint for physical growth in the form of jing from both parents (in the form of egg and sperm). The Weis and Qioas both store and reflect the effects of early childhood development, and their emotional content describes the quality of that early development. Energy movement through the Weis and Qiaos is deeply affected by the events and the interpretation of those events in our early years. Positive and negative experiences create the associations and belief systems through which we come to view the world and our reality. A child left to cry in its crib for hours at a time, for example, may develop belief systems around the value of his voice. Some may learn that overreaction is a way to gain attention, while others might give up asking for their needs.
We know from Polyvagal Theory and the development of the Vagus nerve. that growth, development, physiology, and autonomic regulation (self-soothing) ideally happen in a comfortable environment with gradual steps to independence and personal power. This is also the ideal environment for the Weis and Qiaos: outer peace and calm from a caregiver are internalized into feelings of inner safety and security that are projected onto the world at large. All strivings for independence such as crawling, walking, talking, feeding oneself, toilet training, and even staying over with GramGram feel risky and scary - it is all new and threatening. Children with positive caregiving experiences gradually learn autonomic self-regulation through their positive developmental experiences, are emotionally resilient, and have an ability to self-soothe in stressful situations later in life. In addition, this creates an inner base of "self" from which to navigate relationships out in the world.
The Chong is comprised of 2 main vessels, reflecting our inherent right to exist and the intrinsic ability of the body to nourish that existence. My new understanding of these vessels was discovered (or re-discovered I should say), after a near career-ending injury with paralysis, crippling nerve damage, and loss of motor function in my left arm. A subsequent catastrophic diagnosis during the COVID shutdown meant there were few providers available to support my medical journey, and I had to work on myself, often an inch at a time.
From the standpoint of classical oriental medicine, dis-ease, whether physical, emotional, or mental begins with a blockage of healthy energy flow within the 8 Extra Meridians. Due to the delicate and high frequency of the 8 Extras, we were taught to use the primary vessels in terms of treatment to release held energy pathways that cause pain and disease by gently redirecting energy flow back to its proper course. This is the classical form of acupuncture that is taught in the west. The adage "Where there is blockage there is pain" was a concept I learned on my first day of acupuncture school.