“When you are proud of your achievement it is time to stop.
If you sharpen and strengthen your mind by taking advantage of people,
your enjoyment will not last long.
One who accumulates valuable things will not be able to maintain them
without becoming a slave to them.
Becoming rich and noble with pride is to invite trouble for oneself.
After accomplishing one’s goal it is time to retreat.
This is the way of Heaven.”
Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching. Chapter 9.
The idea of the Tai Chi or the Yin/Yang symbol cannot be attributed to a single person, as we are all influenced by the thinking of previous generations and by our environment. From prehistoric days, our ancestors began to observe the natural cycle of nature, the rising sun following the darkness of night, the continuous change from one season to the next and how our environment changed and adapted, including ourselves. As human beings we are a microcosmic of our universe, we are one with the universe. We are influenced by our surroundings this is why Taoist monasteries are typically set in the mountains where there are not many people, making it easier to harmonise with nature.
The Tao pronounced Dao translates to the Way; it’s not a religion but a way of harmonizing with nature. Its origins are in ancient Chinese culture dating back over five thousand years. Lao Tzu a historical figure from 500 BC was the first great master to write down his understanding of the nature of the Tao, in the book the Tao Teh Ching, which is the basis of most Taoist thought. Some of the other healing arts originating from the Taoist tradition include acupuncture, herbal medicine, feng shui and therapeutic massage.
The Heavenly Orbit also known as the Micro Cosmic Orbit is one of the foundation practices of Taoist Qigong. There are a few different approaches to this practice but they all stimulate the flow of energy or Qi in the body and enable us to harmonise with the universe. Yang energy rises up the back and Yin energy descends down the front, like a flow of water permeating and stimulating the meridian system and balance the energy system of the body. It enables the blood to flow smoothly and the organs to function correctly, secreting different fluids and chemicals, allowing the body to restore natural harmony. It also helps calm the emotions as the mind is not distracted by imbalances it detects. It resembles a large living Tai Chi symbol constantly flowing around the body. This energy works on many levels. Every cell of the body is like a tiny moving Tai Chi. When our Qi or energy is weak, this orbit doesn’t flow very smoothly, affecting our quality of life.
The ultimate aim of our right of existence is to allow our internal micro environment to harmonise with the external macro environment, and through our work and positive actions, we can help those around us. This enables us to realise ourselves as a living spirit in human form.
Begin by sitting cross-legged on a cushion on the floor or on the edge of a chair, keeping the back straight. Rest your hands in your lap, palms facing up. Sit with eyes closed, chin tucked in and as though a silken cord is pulling the head towards the sky. Relax your shoulders and place the tip of the tongue on the top palate of the mouth just behind front teeth. Lift the Hui Yin or gently squeeze the pelvic floor.
Breath naturally in and out through the nose, just relax, letting the mind become clear.
Use your awareness to concentrate on the energy centres around the Heavenly Orbit. A basic principle in Qigong maintains that where the mind goes, the Qi will follow. The Qi flows naturally around this orbit and our job is to strengthen this flow. It’s important not to try too hard, but to relax and feel each energy point, described below. If you feel distracted, use your breath to focus the mind. As you bring your attention to each point, relax and feel, and concentrate on this location for 6 breaths.