Over the next few weeks, the Friday blogs will be delving into some Taoist and Buddhist theories of the body's energy system and breathing techniques. If you find yourself really enjoying these posts please take a look at my Sunset Tai Chi books/dvds as all of this material can be found in there.
(On the other hand, if this stuff really bores you but you still want to learn Tai Chi forms, keep an eye out for my next Udemy course release, "Tai Chi for a Focused Mind - Pure and Simple." It's an abridged version of my current Tai Chi for Beginner's course that distills everything down to just the movements.)
The Lower Energy Center
One of the main energetic centers of the body is located two inches below the belly button, about three inches inward (toward the spine). In Western study, this spot in the abdomen is called the center of gravity.
In qigong, this area is known as the lower dan tian, which translates as "field of elixir," and is believed to be the body's main qi energy storage area. It is from this point that qi energy is also circulated throughout the body, much like the heart circulates blood.
The first skill required for both martial arts and health is the ability to mentally reside in one's physical center of gravity, the lower energy center. Use your breathing to reinforce your mental focus by expanding and contracting your abdominal and back muscles in a controlled manner as you breath in and out, respectively.
So, to summarize:
- Focus your mind on the lower energy center.
- Breath in and contract your belly and back. (Contracting your back is pretty challenging, and it only moves in about a half-inch, so don't force it).
- Breath out and expand your belly and back.
- Repeat, using only 80% effort on the breaths, contractions, and expansions.
Residing in the lower energy center is the secret to storing qi energy and "recharging the battery" in our body. This should not be seen as an exercise, but as a habit, or way of doing things. Ideally, after lots of practice, you should be doing this lower energy center visualization throughout your daily activities: driving, walking, gardening, typing, you name it.
Do this, and keep reading the Friday blogs to continue on your journey of increased internal awareness.