The Microcosmic Orbit

The Nature of Chi

Chi is physical energy, the enrgy we experience when we feel vital and strong. Taoists observe where your attention goes the energy goes. Moving your energy around the body might seem like a strange or unnatural thing to do.  With this practice what you are actually doing is encouraging the energy that stagnated and became blocked to flow in the stream that it is meant to be flowing, a bit like clearing out a blocked drain. Using your mind to move chi through your microcosmic orbit can be compared to water being poured through a drain.  You are clearing the blockage in the channel with your mind in a similar way that an acupuncturist would do with needles.

The lower tan tien is the main energy centre where energy is transformed and stored.  It is a natural part of the process of awakening and reactivating the tan tien, which is what chi kung is about, for the microcosmic orbit to start to open and flow.  Da Vinci noted how it was centred in the middle of the body.

Ren Mai (yin) and Du Mai (yang) Meridians

The primary circuit of the microcosmic orbit flows up the back centre meridian known as the Governing Vessel (Du Mai) and down the front centre meridian, the Conception Vessel (Ren Mai).  It can also flow in the opposite direction, which is the yin cycle, and this is especially useful for women.

 

Circulating your Energy

Start in the tan tien

Focus your attention on the area just below and behind the navel,  the tan tien, and sense for energy in this place.  It's when this energy is activated that the orbit will start to flow, so for best results do regular chi kung practice. Your focus will bring an energetic build up into this area. Don't focus too hard and notice for what you feel, often a tingling or warm sensation, which can be accompanied by tingling hands and lips and increased saliva flow, indicate energy is moving.

Let the energy move

Once the energy in the tan tien has built up, you can allow it to  follow it's natural flow and move towards the centreline below the navel and down to the top of the pubic bone.  Feel the energy activating the area.  Again, allow it to build in this position for as long as it take to feel it strongly, which may be in several sessions or even take a few weeks. Don't worry about rushing, it is best to go slowly, relax and allow the flow to happen.  The more the energy builds up, the more it will flow and clear out the debris in the meridian to make a clear passage way.  Let go of mental blockages that are stopping the natural flow.

Circulating a Small Wheel

The next point is at the perineum, and here you can gently contract and release the muscle as a pumping mechanism to start to move the energy to your coccyx.  Again, take your time here, and over the weeks you can move up to the sacrum, and then the point opposite the navel.  From there, bring the energy across to the navel, and recirculate it in the channel that you have opened, making a circuit of energy. Keep practicing this for as long as you feel you need.

 

Opening the Whole Orbit

Once you feel comfortable with the Orbit in the lower tan tien area, you can use the same method to open the whole orbit, moving the energy up step by step, taking as longs as you need to establish a good flow of energy.  Make sure that when you bring the energy down, you touch the tongue on the roof of your mouth as this is the path it will use to flow down towards you throat.  This is really important.  Once you have opened it and the energy is flowing smoothly, you can start to move it faster.  For example, you can inhale, focus on the point, then exhale and move it on.  You may feel the energy take on a life of its own and flow through the orbit of it's own accord. 

 

Orbiting Energy

One it's moving smoothly you can start to bring it up the spine on the inhale and down the front on the exhale.  Then you can start to orbit it at will, speeding up to 10, 100 or 1000 rotations per breath.  You may feel the energy want to go in the reverse direction and that is fine too, let it flow in that way.  This is the yin rotation cycle and is good to put you to sleep, the other is energising.  Eventually you will find that it only takes a thought or slight movement to get the orbit moving.  

 

Store in the Tan Tien

Always finish by storing the energy back in the tan tien.  Do this by focusing on the area and rubbing with your hands in slow circular movements.  For women, do 36 counterclockwise circles, the 24 clockwise.  Men do the reverse. The more your practice the more the meridian will clear and the more you will feel. Signs of the energy moving include warmth, tingling, especially of the lips and hands. The increased energy flow will nourish your skin making it look vibrant and give your cheeks a healthy glow.