Archive for the ‘microcosmic orbit’ Tag

Understanding Qigong Class   3 comments

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Learn the fundamentals of Qigong

I will unlock the secrets of qigong for you; so you can see how (and why) you can move energy to any part of your body that you wish. With a full understanding of the basics of your internal energy system, you will have a solid foundation to understand Traditional Chinese Medicine, Taiji, Qigong, and Taoist meditation.

This class explains all about the art and science of Qigong. Once you know how your energy system works it all makes sense. For instance, we eat food and we breathe and we turn it into electricity that moves our muscles and our bones. This same system feeds energy to our brains, internal organs, bone marrow, skin and everything else, including our thoughts and our emotions. When the energy gets stuck or becomes stagnant, our health suffers, in Chinese medicine this is considered the cause of most health issues. In the western world, 75% of all doctors visits are for preventable illnesses. By combining scientific knowledge along with exercises and meditation, students can learn Taoist methods for ultimate health and longevity.

I will explain everything!… starting from the moment of conception…
how your qi system was formed in your body, and how you make qi, where and how you store it, and how to cultivate and conserve it.

I will show you many different Qigong techniques, for medical reasons, and spiritual practices as well as for strengthening your bodies. These exercises will bring your awareness to the sensations of actually feeling the qi move inside of you. Learning how to unlock stuck qi is an enlightening experience!

Some of the topics explored:

 

History
Wuji, skeletal alignment
Yiquan standing exercises
The three dantians
The eight extraordinary vessels
The twelve meridians
Tuning your breath
Five element theory
Microcosmic orbit
Embryonic breathing
Meditation methods
Nei gong internal qigong
Various breathing methods

There are many different types and styles of qigong exercises, both standing and sitting. I will explain the methods and applications, and be your coach.

I have never seen a class like this before on Maui and I thought it would be nice to pull away the veil that obscures some, if not all of the mysteries that lie “beyond the mysterious beyond.” With this knowledge students can train with anyone and know what is going on. Bring your knowledge up to the instructors level!

This class is on Thursdays at Kaunoa at 11:00 until 12:00
Call and sign up today 270-7308

Taoist Meditation Lesson #8 Heavenly Sojourn   Leave a comment

Connecting the planets

Completing the Small Circle

In the previous lesson, I outlined the basic idea of the Small Circle or Microcosmic Orbit meditation.  Learning to connect your internal solar system will give you much insight into your internal energy. The last lesson leads you through a series of points in your energy system. The point was to bring qi down from the minds eye to the perineum at the bottom of the torso. This involves bringing your awareness to each point along the way for a sufficient length of time that you can feel it at each point before moving to the next one, Basically you were learning the “Yin path“, the downward, relaxing, nurturing and frankly the easy path of energy flow.

If you have become adept at this skill, you are ready to learn the other half of the process, bringing energy up the “Yang path”.  I hope that you noticed how the energy “wants” to flow down the yin path almost as if gravity were pulling it there and in a way, it is. Just to be real about it, there is a mechanical reason for this. By sequentially relaxing downward, your body is allowing blood and lymph as well as the flesh to sag and drain downward towards the earth. Keeping your back straight while this is happening aids the flow by assuring that all the necessary passageways remain open to that flow; slouching or having any misalignment or muscle tension will interfere with this process.

The yin path starts at the tip of the tongue and descends through the tongue, past the thyroid, thymus, heart, solar plexus, dantian, sperm (ovarian) palace, and ends at the perineum. Purists might know that the “Ren” channel ends, and the “Tu” channel starts at the ovarian palace, but the Tu channel “emerges” at the perineum and that is why I start there. These eight places are one-half of the microcosmic orbit, the other seven points are the topic of this article, the “Yang Path“.

In my method, the “Yang Path”  starts just under the skin at the perineum but it is at the coccyx or tailbone where it moves up to the “Ming Men”, gate of life  located just below where the thoracic spine joins with the lumbar spine. It then goes up along the tendons covering the spine, past the kidneys and adrenal glands. From there the path goes between the shoulders at the “Shen Dao”, the path to the spirit, opposite the heart center on the spine i.e.. the third thoracic vertebra near to the thoracic/cervical junction. The next place of wonderment is called “Da Zhui”, the great hammer. Da Zhui is about the C-7, the thoracic/cervical junction, on the spine opposite the throat. From this point, the qi moves upward, goes past the “Jade Pillow” at the top of the spine joining the skull and moves over the skull, up to the Crown Point, and then terminates at the palate just under the minds eye.

When you have completed the yin path and are completely relaxed and all the energy has drained into your hips and pelvis it will coalesce near the premium. You are now ready to bring qi up the spine and recycle the energy via the “Yang path”.

This is a new skill and it can be confusing depending on how you interpret what you are doing in the moment. Just to clarify that statement, some teachers will tell you to “pull the qi to the tail bone using your anus and collect it there“. I would say this too, but invariably pulling and pushing qi up the back channel is not the most effective way to do it, in my opinion. It does work, and you can get started doing it this way and yet if there was an easier way, you might want to try it.

Just tuning the breath and “listening” you may be able to sense the energy moving thought the small circle, that would be very nice indeed. Just sitting quietly and observing the energy flow is fantastic. I would say that is a high achievement. “Moving” qi through the circulation is controlling it. Both are valid and have different applications, for example I like to move qi through the body with my mind so that I can learn how to feel it moving when I’m not moving it!

Before any practice I recommend Tuning the Breath

I recommend that you start to access the back channel (yang path) by first starting at the Crown Point. Just lift up on the Crown Point and feel the head lifting off the shoulders and the spine lengthening and this will pull the tailbone into a vertical alignment, which also opens the pathway at the rear of the anus towards the back. Ah, see now the whole channel is open and now you can pull the energy to the anus and it will be sucked up the spine all the way to the top!  In the beginning, you may still need to coax it up by using your breath and muscle contractions, but as you get better at it, you can reduce the effort and concentration that you apply and spend more time enjoying the results. Each time the qi is at the bottom (Hui yin), open the crown, and allow the qi free access to the top.

From the bottom of the torso, pull up the PC Muscle (this muscle runs from the pubic bone to the tailbone) and you will feel a rush of energy there; this is a simple way of developing perineum power.  This is when you want to pull up around the anus and feel the energy go around the anal sphincter muscle to the rear of the anus. The energy is now at the tip of the tailbone. Learn to feel your internal musculature here and you can contract the muscles there and actually create a wave of qi that will move up the sacrum to the lumbar spine and it will collect at the top of the lumbar region at a place known as the “Gate of Life”.

Bring qi up the Du Meridian

It may take a few tries to do this but keep at it and soon you will feel qi gathering at the Ming Men. You may need to rock your hips slightly to open the lower gate, this will help avoid stuck energy there.  Some say it is like “sipping through a straw” each time you take a breath the energy descends some being pulled back up on the next breath. By using a combination of first pulling the spine up from the top, and then going through a series of muscular contractions and breaths you can apply mental energy to move the qi up, up, and up…

Over time, you will feel the energy moving up through the kidneys, and the Shen Dao,  Da Zhui, through the jade pillow and up to the crown.  When you get used to bringing the energy to the Ming Men you will find it has enough inertia to just rather shoot up through the other points.  The yang path may flow fast as the qi rushes up to the top or, hopefully in a more controlled way. This can be a beautiful and rewarding release of energy that can thrill you when you feel it. Remain calm, and enjoy this energy release as you might enjoy a sexual energy release as it its related to that same feeling.  This is also do to the Chong Mai or thrusting vessel (that is another story) that runs deeper directly through the center of your spine.  Once you get used to these types of experiences you may never be the same again, you are gaining control over your energy.

I would not try to analyze this or focus on each individual point on the back channel at this point in your training. These skills can take awhile to acquire, and unless you have been doing this for some length of time, it may be meaningless for you to get too esoteric about it. It is not how much you know, or think you know about “meridians” and all that, what really matters is that you practice often and you keep it simple.

Many of these spine points can be blocked by accumulated postural  stress and may require qigong movements to open them, particularly prone to being blocked are the Shen Dao and Da Zhui. Come to class, or find a good teacher in your area for help with these two places. You do not want a blockage in “the path to the spirit”!

Even though you can now complete the circle, you are still just at the beginning of a new journey. Do not be in a rush, just work on these new skills for a while and get good at “circulating the microcosmic orbit”. You will find that as you get to know this skill you will be able to use this all the time, like when you are doing sitting or standing meditation or while doing moving soft qigong, or Taiji or even use this skill during sex. This is a start of a new level of qigong training, truly “going internal”.  While all forms of qigong training effect you internally, learning the small circle is the beginning of what we call “nei gong”. You are now moving into a higher level of mediation, where meditation and qigong come together and move your mind and body into the realm of pure energy, yet another step on the path of “Spiritual Alchemy”.

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Taoist Meditation Lesson #7 Finding Heaven   Leave a comment

“The sage sees the universe without going out the door”

 

Small Heavenly Circle (Microcosmic Orbit) Meditation Part #1

Attaining Tao is to merge with the wonders of heaven. In the very first verse of the Tao Te Ching, Lao Tzu says, “The Tao that can be named is not the real Tao”. What he is saying is the greatest of all things is beyond words, and once we attempt to name it we have defined the indefinable, which obviously is not going to work.  So then, how do we merge with the undifferentiated source of all things? Simple, start by just letting go of your desire to be or do anything and focus your energy into heaven.

If you have read the six prior lessons on Taoist meditation basics and practices and if you have actually tried some of these techniques then it is time to expand your horizons. Be sure to read Tuning the Breath as well.

I hope by now you have had some success with staying “in the moment” and have learned to use some of these tools to dissolve your mind into your body. Learning to control your thoughts is the basic methodology to allow your energy to find a higher calling. In this article, I will give you a little piece of treasure, another tool for your meditation that will help you reach a higher state of consciousness.

Much has been written about the “Small Heavenly Circle” also known as the “Microcosmic Orbit” meditation; a simple Google search will give you over 5,000 results.  I will not attempt to re-invent the wheel here, (pun intended) but instead I will give you my method.  This method of meditation takes the practitioner on an inward journey along the superhighway of energy that predominates within the human body.  My method is a straightforward and simple way to start exploring the universe within.

On the inward journey, the first things we learned were to dissolve our thoughts and get in touch with our energy, something you are getting skilled at if you have been doing the lessons so far. Now I am going to explain how to circulate that energy within your body.

We start with a basic energy circuit that runs up and down the torso in a circular path just under the surface of the skin; this path is called the “Small Circle.”  The vessels and meridians in your body that carry the qi are usually along high conductivity tissue such as tendons  and sometimes muscles. The centerline of both the front and back of our torso is mostly tendons, and this is a good conductor for the qi to flow within.  Learning to follow this path is a major step to moving even deeper into your body, and will give you more insight into the universe within you. My method starts with identifying the two major pathways of energy (that connect into a circle) by defining 15 points along the way. Like planets in a galaxy, we will travel to each one, picking up provisions along the way.  As we get to know each “planet” we will gain an understanding of our inner workings, this is the “Sage seeing the universe with out going out the door”

The two main paths have many names and energy can be moved in a variety of ways. In this beginning technique, we are going to follow the natural flow of energy down the front and up the back. For now, just think of them as Yin and Yang.  The “Yang path” starts at the perineum and then the base of the spine, continues up and over the crown of the head, and ends at the pallet. The “Yin path” starts at the tip of the tongue and flows down the front of your body and ends at the perineum at the bottom of your torso. Technically the “Ren” channel ends at the ovarian palace but since the connecting “Tu” channel emerges at the perineum I start there. Again, there are many resources available online for your perusal. Here I want to give you my method of navigating this “orbit.”

First, let me name, locate, and describe each “planet” along the orbit. Since we have to start somewhere, I start from that place where you “see things” when you close your eyes, a place between the eyebrows that is sometimes called “the minds eye.”

There are many more than these 16 points (that are really bigger than “points” that is why I think of them as “planets“) but I like to keep things simple. Picking these 16 allows us to be clear about each one and later we will apply a breathing technique to help propel your “spaceship” to each “planet”.   As your awareness grows you will feel and communicate with many more places than I have put on this list.  For example, between numbers  8, 9 &10 there are 2 others, the anus for instance, which is actually 6  in itself, front, back, each side, the center and the outer muscle!

My list of 16 celestial destinations within:

Classic texts would have you start at the Dan Tian and “contemplate your navel” for “as long as it takes to feel the qi there“.  I will not refute this method but there are alternatives. While this skill is admirable, I think we get the point; moving on from there, I believe spending a few minutes at each point is a better way to learn this orbit. Of course take as long as you want to explore each world, again the “classics” say to spend as long as a couple of months on each point until you can send your awareness and feel your qi there.

Once you have “opened the channel”, you will notice the qi moves rather quickly around the orbit. I usually do not need to linger long at each place at this point in my training and because I am not writing a book here, think of this as a quick tour through the planets,

The Mind’s Eye (behind your forehead)
The Heavenly Pool (where the tongue touches the pallet)
The Throat, (thyroid gland)
Thymus gland
The Heart
The Solar Plexus
The Dan Tian (just one inch below the navel)
The Sperm (Ovarian) Palace (a hands width below the navel)
The Hui Yin (the perineum)
The Tip of the Tail Bone
The Gate of Life (on the spine opposite the Dan Tien)
The Kidneys and Adrenals (on the spine opposite the Solar Plexus)
The Shen Dao, Between the Shoulders (opposite the Heart)
The Da Zhui, at the C-7
The Jade Pillow (at the base of the skull)
The Bai Hui or Crown Point (at the top of the head)

My planetary journey starts where I already am…

Sit and tune the breath,

Bring your awareness to,

1.    The Minds Eye (behind your forehead); Starting where your mind is already is a good place to start. When you close your eyes, you will “see” or rather “observe” energy actively moving about. Then just let the awareness sink down trough the Yin Path….

2.    The Heavenly Pool (where the tongue touches the pallet); When I put my awareness here I feel saliva welling up from the bottom of my mouth and pooling around the base of my tongue encouraging me to swallow.

3.    The Throat; This spot sends the flow downward along the yin channel. Here lies the thyroid gland a tiny little gland that controls the rates of regeneration for your entire body.

4.   The Thymus gland is a very sensitive gland that is an emotional regulator, sensing the heart and breathing rates, etc.

5.     The Heart; When my mind travels here I feel my heart moving a little bit, not so much an increase in speed, but sort of a warm gentle thumping.

6.    The Solar Plexus; This is a major nerve gathering center in your chest, at this location I feel a lump that seems to radiate out in all directions.

7.    The (Lower) Dan Tian (one inch below the navel); This is the home planet for your Qi. When qi gets stuck in your head (Upper Dan tian) it can cause rampant thinking, when the qi is at your Thymus or Solar Plexus, (in the middle Dan tian), you might feel emotional, but when the qi is here it will feel at home. After my first few years of practice, I began to feel a rotational sensation here.

8.    The Sperm (Ovarian) Palace (a hands width below the navel); This space is connected to all of your glandular systems and placing my mind here, brings me a sense of being connected internally.

9.    The Hui Yin (the perineum); When here, I feel a pulsing feeling as though there is a warm current flowing through my perineum moving towards the back of my body. This is the bottom of the torso and it is full of muscles that support the pelvic floor. The Hui Yin is sort of the launching pad for the next part of the orbit, the Yang path.

To keep things simple just do this for now…

First Tune your Breath and then just work on putting your awareness on each spot until you notice it; just like when you were using your hands; remember, “listening” for the tingling sensation there? If not re-read the other lessons. The point is, if you can send the energy to your hands it is a logical step to move to these orbit spots here. Just do this a little bit and see if you can feel the flow of energy coming down from your head to your perineum.

In the next lesson, I will lead you through the rest of the orbit.

Soon you will see that Taoist meditation and internal qigong are similar. You are now starting to learn the fine art of “Nei Gong” or “internal qigong”

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