Question from a practitioner:
What is the difference between the Central Channel and the Chong Mai? I have heard someone say that they are completely different things and someone else say that they are the same thing. I’m confused.
The Chong Mai and Central Channel that Saul Goodman refers to are different things. There are several extraordinary vessels of energy circulation described in Chinese medicine of which the Chong Mai is one. Central channel is a term used in many different systems and refers to the central path of energy through the body.
Saul describes the central channel as a circuit of life force that moves along the pathway of the spinal cord. It directly affects the functioning of the meninges, the spine, the central nervous system, the Governing Vessel meridian (the Du Mai), the chakras, and the craniosacral fluid. So the central channel is different from the Chong Mai, even though some of the extraordinary vessels are within the central channel and central channel work will affect them.
A component of Shin Tai work is specifically called Central Channel work. Practitioners identify and release patterns of stress along the central channel of the body using non-force contacts that release restriction in the meninges. Release of meningal stress patterns helps to improve a myriad of physical problems along with increasing emotional, mental and spiritual health. As the Central Channel opens, all of the components along its pathway begin to function in a more synthesized way.
To really understand and work with the shin tai central channel material a practitioner needs to experience it in her/himself as well as work with it in others. Receiving central channel treatments facilitates a direct engagement with the central channel and how it affects the body/mind/spirit. Explanations and information about it, like what is presented in this article, can only approximate the truth of what the central channel is.
Don’t worry so much about specific definitions, and try not to take too much energy attempting to make other systems and interpretations make sense with each other. Directly experiencing the different parts of your own system and those with whom you work is really the only way to understand it in the way that you are wanting.