A useful method for this is to follow the outline of a meridian (see the Meridian Chart below), with one finger or with several fingers held closely together. Following a meridian in the normal flow direction is strengthening, while tracing in the opposite direction will weaken and sedate the meridian. The results of these tracings may be checked with muscle testing.
In order to perform a meridian tracement, pause with your fingers for a moment at the starting-point; then follow the meridian in a quiet, fluent motion. The fingers should be close to the body. They may touch the skin or clothing but do not actually need to touch. It is enough to remain within about 5 cm of the actual course of the meridian.
Start by energising your hands. If you are experienced in working with energies you may just do that with your imagination, otherwise shake your hands for about ten seconds and during the actual tracing try to feel or imagine feeling energy streaming out of the tips of your fingers. Related meridians on both sides may be traced simultaneously. In repeated tracings move the hands back to the starting-point in a wide sweep to avoid following the meridian in the reverse direction. At the end of each tracement lightly flick the fingers to remove any accumulated negative energy.
You may trace all the main meridians once or several times daily, or you may concentrate on the meridians most in need of improvement. Important meridians may be traced repeatedly during the day for 20 times or more. The strengthening effect may be increased if after several tracings you do a muscle-tensing exercise, Taking a deep breath while tensing your whole body and then relaxing it during exhalation.
The meridian system allows us to understand why many disease symptoms appear in certain body parts when the originating cause is a weak or inflamed organ in another location. The diagrams show only the surface courses of the meridians; inside the body each one is connected to its associated organ. In this way the deranged energy pattern of an organ is easily transmitted to other body parts along the course of the meridian.
Diseases of the ear, migraine and hip problems can now be seen energy-wise to be associated with the gall bladder. Arthritis of the hip, therefore, is often a gall bladder problem, while arthritis of the shoulders may have its cause in the intestines. Gout, affecting the big toes, stems from the liver, while swollen ankles are related to the kidneys. See the enclosed Table of Meridian-Disease Relationships.
Furthermore, each organ-meridian system has a two-hour period of maximum activity, and a period of minimum activity 12 hours later. An inflamed organ is often more painful during its active period, while a weak system should not be stressed during low periods.
In acupuncture books you may find different names for two of the meridians. The circulation meridian is also called the pericardium meridian, while the gland meridian may be called the triple-warmer meridian.
While pulse diagnosis is the expert Chinese way of determining the energy balance of the meridians, you may often be able to judge by the kind of diseases or symptoms present. Generally, overacidity, pain and inflammation along the course of a meridian or in its target organ call for sedation, while coldness and weakness call for stimulation.
According to Chinese teachings, some interesting characteristics are associated with the meridians of the kidneys and liver. Weak kidney meridians are indicated by a lack of will and sexual impulse, and furthermore by negativity, unease, timidity and impatience. In the case of an overactive kidney meridian, on the other hand, the energy level is abnormally high and you cannot stop working.
The liver is similar. A weak meridian shows itself in dizziness, a clumsy walk, easily tiring eyes and a short temper. An overactive liver meridian causes excessive excitability, crying moods and a compulsion to continue working.
According to Chinese traditions, the main organs and their meridians are also associated with different emotions. An excessive amount of these emotions can damage the associated organs, while a disease of these organs may, in time, lead to excessive displays of these emotions.
Accordingly, anger is associated with the liver; excessive laughter and gayness, but also fright, with the heart; worry and emotional tension with the spleen and pancreas; grief, sorrow and negativity with the lungs; and fear and timidity with weak kidneys.