Monday Morning Tai Chi Training Tip # 274
Energy Circuits in the Body
All spiritual meditative practices use the same method for achieving the highest levels of unity with the life force – that of moving energy from the gross to the refined, from heavy to light, from yin to yang. Understanding the concept of energy circuits is important to reaching the higher levels of Tai Chi practice. It is not “essential” to one’s enjoyment, or most of the health benefits of practice, but if one desires to use Tai Chi as a meditative adventure, put some time into learning about this.
Understanding energy movement is so important for one’s health. There are certain health issues that are a result of too much chi concentrated in one area, or conversely, too little. That imbalance needs to be corrected. Tai Chi is all about understanding how to fill when depleted, and drain when too full.
We all use circuits all the time in our lives. Go to the grocery store and back – a circuit. Go to the park, practice, and back – a circuit. Get off the couch, pick up a book, return to the couch – a circuit. Run around a track – many circuits. The moon revolves around the earth. The earth revolves around the sun. Circuits.
There are some circuits that are less obvious. Turn on a light. Turn on the TV. Grind the beans for your morning coffee – all involve circuits. These are called “electrical circuits”. Electrons are concentrated at a place, say a power station, then sent to your home. From there, you can open the circuit by turning on a switch, and the electrons flow out along a wire, into the light fixture. Then when you turn the switch off, the electrons stop flowing and move back along another wire, back to the source. For a circuit to work, there needs to be a loop. It can’t just flow out into the lamp without the return.
There are three main energetic circuits in the body, and several lesser circuits, that we focus on in Tai Chi, and by understanding them, we can increase the amount of energy that we can load into the system. It is important to keep in mind that chi or energy flows from the area of highest concentration to the lowest. This is the concept of “gather and release” which we talked about recently.
The earth is solid, therefore yin. The heavens is mostly space, therefore yang. As I said, energy moves from high concentration (solid,yin,earth) to less concentration (spacious, yang, heaven). There is what is known as the thrusting channel that runs right up the center of the body, from coccyx to head. The chi flows from the yin or concentrated earth, to the yang, or more expanded, from the feet or lower body to the head. It is like a freeway, not many stops along the way. It is the quickest way to elevate the spirit.
The microcosmic orbit is the main energizer and mover of chi up the back, from the torso to the head and back down the front of the body to the lower belly. This circuit starts by breathing into the lower belly, making it higher concentrated. It then naturally flows to the top of the head which has less concentration, but, as you continue breathing with a focus on the head, it becomes more dense. Now the lower belly is less concentrated so the chi will flow down the front to balance the chi in the head.
If we include the arms and legs, the circuit is then called the macrocosmic orbit. These will the topic of a later Tip. The microcosmic orbit includes the base of the spine or Hui Yin point on the perineum, floor of the pelvis, (usually considered the starting point of flow, but not always), then up the back to the top of the head (pei-hui), over the head then descends down the front of the body, back to the Hui Yin. One complete circuit.
The channel of energy that rises up the back is called the governing channel. There are an unlimited number of branches that emanate out from this channel. Think of a tree with many branches. It is similar to the idea of an energy generating plant that supplies energy for a city. There are various sub-stations to convert the energy into a more usable form, and then send it out to each house.
The path of energy generation for a house: The universe – the sun – the earth – the generating plant – sub station – house main – outlet – final object.
The path of energy generation for the body: The universe – the sun – the earth – up the legs to the lower tantien (generating plant) – down to Hui Yin (sub station) – up the governing channel and around the microcosmic orbit (connecting to every house), and back to the tantien (completing the circuit).
We’ll continue looking at this important topic later.
Note: There is a video on YouTube I have made that helps to explain this practice of high concentration to lower. It is called Yi – Jin – Jing (Tendon Stretching Exercise). Check it out.