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Chi kung

Tan Tien Energy Centres
By Paul Brecher

Practised by millions of Chinese every day, chi kung exercises increase energy and encourage its smooth circulation around the body to improve health on all levels physically, mentally, emotionally and eventually, spiritually. Chi kung is not a religion; it is an exercise system that can benefit everyone.

There are three key energy centres in the body, each called a tan tien, which means field of the elixir of life. The concept of the tan tien originated in ancient times: the Chinese used the word field to convey the idea that life energy can be cultivated within the body in the same way that a crop can be cultivated in a field.

A crop will only flourish if all the factors are right: the ground has to be good, just as the physical body needs to be strong, and the right crops need to be planted, emphasizing the importance of a good diet and positive thoughts. The Chinese saw themselves as a part of nature. They believed that eternal environmental factors had parallels inside the body, which could lead to ill-health if they became unbalanced.

They observed that when the sun was strong in summer, it caused drought and crop failure; likewise they knew that inside the body this same heat could cause dehydration, heatstroke, and death. If the rain s were heavy there was a possibility of flooding; in the body, an excess of water could cause oedema. If there was not enough sunlight (chi) in the body, cold winter weather could cause hypothermia and death.

The Power Of The Elements
The Chinese referred to the elemental forces from above as heaven. The elements were in themselves potential killers, but they could also destroy human life by destroying food crops. From these observations the Chinese deduced that man was affected by heaven, The crops in the earth required sunlight and rain to grow, so earth also relied on heaven, and man was dependent on the food from the earth.

They concluded that heaven, earth, and man were interconnected and continuously affected by one another and that in order to live a long and healthy life, man needed to curb the excesses of his own nature, balance his internal environment, and be in tune with the natural world around him.

The lower tan tien energy centre is located just below and behind the navel and is associated with the earth and water. This energy centre is where the chi for action comes from. The middle tan tien is situated behind the solar plexus and is associated with the sun and fire. This is easily affected by the emotions. The upper tan tien lies behind the mid-point between the eyebrows and is associated with the heaven. This is the energy centre where all thoughts are received.

Moving Energy With Your Mind
In chi kung, chi is moved different meridians to nourish and heal the internal organs, so that we can be strong and live long lives. We use the mind to move the chi, either by telling the body to adopt a certain posture, which activates a particular meridian, or by instructing the body to breather a special way, which will boost the amount of chi in the body and invigorate its movement.

There is also another, more direct, way. With the minds power of sustained concentration and its ability to focus, we are able to lead chi through the meridian system and target specific points. The way that the mind leads chi is rather like an arrow with a thread attached to it. When a marksman concentrates on the bulls-eye of a target, he uses his external vision to focus on a point outside himself, so that when the arrow is released it will go straight to the bulls-eye. I our chi kung energy work, we use our internal minds eye to focus on points inside ourselves and lead the chi to them.

Regular Practice
Through regular practice the power of our mind increases and we can control our internal energy and our emotions more easily. Once this is achieved, we are quickly able to improve our lives we are able to make choices that are based on what is best and most appropriate, rather than avoiding our fears and being a slave to our desires.

For example, for many men the desire for sexual satisfaction is often a powerful driving force in their decisions. It sometimes happens that what they think, say, and do is inappropriate because they are unable to control their sexual energy. There are exercises that enable us to use the power of our mind to control the movement of sexual energy.

This is an extract from Energy Work by Paul Brecher and published by Droling Kindersely. ISBN 0-75131-200-2 You can view more of Pauls work at his web site www.taiji.net