Have you ever found yourself driving along a highway? The road stretches out in front of you and disappears into the horizon, almost lulling you to sleep. You press into the gas a little more, going a little too fast, but no one is on this highway. You stop thinking about driving and start thinking about your life. No longer paying attention to the road, you hit a bend in the road. The sudden pull of the car as it tries to break from the trajectory you’ve given it pulls you immediately back to your place behind the wheel. And for a road that hasn’t seen any traffic for the last 30 miles, suddenly there is a truck in the other lane bearing down on you.

That’s kind of what this year feels like.

It’s like I was in the middle of a great dream, and someone is shaking me awake and screaming, “Wake up, wake up, the house is on fire!”

2020 is like being in the midst of some significant change, some enormous societal change. This change is creating an enormous amount of pressure for every individual I know.

Our body was created to manage the stresses of life. In Chinese Medicine, the 12 primary channels are well-known. They consist of the major organs like the heart, the lungs, the stomach. Every time we have an experience in life, we have to process the experience and incorporate it into our psyche. That’s the job of the 12 primary channels. Check out my blog on the heart, “Chinese Medicine, the Heart and How to Avoid Chaos” to get ideas on how this works.

But, there are another set of channels called the 8 extraordinary channels. These channels are not well known and help us with life experiences that have become too much for us.

The pandemic is an excellent example of life experiences becoming too much. It use to be major life events such as a divorce, losing a job, homelessness, moving, getting married, being a caregiver, or the emotional scars from abuse were the things that fell into the “too much” category.

I think what surprised me is these major events that overwhelm our primary channels and need to be off-loaded to the extraordinary channels have four characteristics. First is the event is a major life change. A second characteristic is the event has a component of being “unknown” in it. The third is a threat to your survival including financial health. The fourth characteristic is a component of being unpredictable.

The pandemic has captured each of these. It has brought in a huge life change. This virus has so many unknowns from how it is transmitted to when the pandemic will end that just thinking about it can be overwhelming. The financial stability of millions of people in the United States has been upended. The virus a side that threatens the lives of individuals in very unpredictable ways.

The longer this goes on, the more frayed and run down people become. People can feel a sense of being powerless and trapped, leading to feelings of hopelessness. People can start to feel defensive and thin-skinned.

These overwhelming types of experiences have a tendency to get trapped in our bodies and our psyche. Daily activities become difficult to manage. It becomes more challenging to sleep. Your emotions start taking more control of your interactions and your life. Feelings of anxiety, fear, anger, grief, brooding can become your daily drivers making it difficult to accomplish things.

How would you treat this? Well, all your traditional coping skills are probably taxed. In Chinese Medicine, your traditional coping skills come from the primary channels. Usually, these channels can handle all of life’s stressors. But, when faced with an overwhelming experience, coping skills get maxed out. That is when you use the 8 extraordinary channels. What are the 8 extraordinary channels?

The 8 extraordinary channels existed before you were born. The Chong mai starts with the zygote. When the zygote splits, the Du and Ren mai are created. The egg splits again, creating the Dai mai. Splitting one more time and the other four channels are created.

So, these channels were the start of you before you were interacting with the world. That would make them seem to be more you than your primary channels. In Chinese Medicine, when you get overwhelmed, the extraordinary channels can be used to siphon off, store or help manage trauma.

Experiences and trauma at this level can be a little different than at the primary channel level. Here, it makes an impact on your personality and changes your outlook. You know, one of the things I’ve been hearing is hopelessness. As the pandemic drags on and more and more stress is shoveled on top of individuals, hopelessness starts to crop up. Hopelessness is a belief that is changed at the 8 extraordinary level.

And I’ve talked about how our beliefs create our world and why it is so important to own and manage your thought processes. My blog, “Karma Free Zone,” and my vlog, “Understanding The Laws of Karma – the First Step to Finding Your True Self,” are two opportunities to learn more about managing your thought processes.

There are other ways to identify if your situation has passed the point of simple management at the primary channel level. It’s a belief you’ve internalized which allows it to create your life experiences. If you are experiencing the same outcome over and over, even though you want a different result, that is the hallmark of past experiences that were too much to handle. Things are happening in your life that you just can’t seem to get around.

Yet, as everyone started hitting quarantine fatigue, I noticed the emotional stress had begun to take on a whole new direction in the office. Clients were showing less resilience. They were having a hard time finding direction and were feeling stuck. Some were feeling like they were perched on a precipice, wondering when they would be pushed off. Others were experiencing a low-level nervousness that they couldn’t shake. Sleep was becoming a big issue, and staying motivated was challenging.

These were all signs that what is being experienced today is getting too complicated to manage. That’s the thing about overwhelming experiences. They have the opportunity to change how you interact with the world. Not all of it is good. So, suppose you are feeling stuck in your current coping mechanisms or treatments and need to find another solution. In that case, 8 extraordinary treatments to overcome the stories and the stuckness may be an option.

Have you had experience with 8 extraordinary channels treatment in Chinese Medicine? How did it work for you?