Ten Life Secrets I Learned in T’ai Chi & Qigong #4

    4. Center your mind in your Dantian.

    T’ai Chi and Qigong are based on your “internal energy system” or the circulation of life energy (qi, “chee”) through your body.  Your qi circulates through a subtle network of energy centers, pathways (meridians), and points (acupoints) along those pathways.  The qi circulatory system runs through the connective tissue of your body and closely relates to and influences the circulation of blood and lymphatic fluids.

    There are three primary energy centers in T’ai Chi and Qigong, called the dantians (“dahn-tee-en”), in your lower abdomen, the center of your chest, and the center of your brain.  These are called the Lower Dantian, Middle Dantian, and Upper Dantian, respectively.  T’ai Chi and Qigong begin with emphasis on your Lower Dantian, the center of your physical vitality.  You build energy here first and then circulate it through the rest of your system.

    How do you build your physical vitality?  This is achieved through good nutrition, adequate exercise and rest, conserving sexual energy, deep breathing, and appropriate self-care.  In addition, you can increase Lower Dantian energy by focusing your mind into that space and holding it there.  This is a great way to come down from stress, anxiety, or pressure, and come down from being “in your head” into being present in your body.

    Here are some practice cues:  Imagine a pearl of energy about three finger-widths below your navel and 1/3 of the way from the front to the back of your body in the center of your lower abdomen.  Imagine your Lower Dantian pearl growing bigger and glowing brighter as you concentrate on it.  You can combine conscious breathing to heighten your concentration and build the energy there.  As you inhale, imagine your lower dantian pearl being fed by the energy in your breath so that it grows larger and glows warmer and brighter.  As you exhale, concentrate into the center of that ball of energy.  I call this “Lower Dantian Breathing.”

    The more time you spend focusing on your Lower Dantian, the more energy you’ll feel there.  Centering your mind in your lower dantian is a powerful way not only to boost your physical vitality, but also to relax deeply and come back to center when you’ve gotten caught up in the stresses of your day.  If you’re feeling tired, lay down, put your hands on your lower abdomen and focus on Lower Dantian Breathing.  This is a great way to take a nap or fall asleep at night.

    Try it out and let me know how it feels,


    Kevin Schoeninger

    To go directly to the next post in this series, follow this link:
    “>Ten Life Secrets I Learned in T’ai Chi & Qigong #5

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