When you live your life in the mind, it takes 80 percent of your energy, leaving only 20 percent for your organs! The practice of Tan Tien Chi Kung helps you shift your energy center to your abdomen. This opens the body and the mind for the free and continuous movement of Chi, the life force.
Located just behind and below the navel is the center of the physical body and of physical strength, called lower Tan Tien. It is also the center of awareness. In the spine this center is between the second and third lumbar, also called the “gate of life,” “the medicine field,” or “elixir field,” as it gathers and contains the healing power of Chi.
The process of internal transformation in Tan Tien Chi Kung starts with the Inner Smile practice. It trains us to sense, feel, see, and hear deeply; it trains us to accept and embrace what is there so that our experience of life is opened up again:
Remember these guidelines:
1. Where the Mind Goes the Chi Flows
Empty your mind down to the lower Tan Tien, and fill the lower Tan Tien with Chi. Move your conscious awareness from the head to the navel area–where the mind goes, the Chi flows–and allow your mind to direct all functions from the Tan Tien.
2. When your mind is empty, it will be filled. When the organs have extra energy, that extra energy will rise up and fill the brain with Chi.
Inner Smile Energy Practice.
This exercise is challenging!
1. Smile to the mid-eyebrows, eyebrows, eyes, mouth, jaw, tongue, lips, cheeks, ears, shoulders, rib cage, and brain. Relax and let go of all mental, emotional, and physical tension.
2. Smile to the eyes. Relax the eyes and feel how nice and cool they are. Let the eyes draw back in their sockets and start to sink down to the chest and gradually down to the abdomen.
3. Relax the two broad muscles extending from the outer portions of the upper lips across the cheekbones. Lightly smile, feeling the muscles’ connection to the upper front of the ears.
4. Open your mouth and relax your jaw, separating the upper and lower teeth. Feel the jaw relax. Once the jaw relaxes, the shoulders will relax and drop down. Continue to feel the jaw relax until you feel saliva start to come out. Relax to the rib cage. Feel the rib cage drop down, softening all the joints, relaxing down to the lower Tan Tien. Let the tongue relax back in the mouth. Visualize all the energies of the head and face sinking down into the chest and all the way down to the navel and lower Tan Tien.
5. Smile to the shoulders. Relax until you feel the shoulders drop and the rib cage relax.
6. Lightly close the lips, but keep the teeth slightly separated. Physically begin a childlike smile, with the corners of the mouth gently uplifted and the outer edges of the eyes softly crinkled up. Breathe through your nose.
7. Smile into the brain and continue to empty the upper (observing) mind into the lower Tan Tien.
8. Become aware of your inner universe as vast, empty space. Keep on sinking down, into the darkness of your empty space. Keep sinking, and experience the vastness. Stay relaxed and alert. Rest.
Adapted from Tan Tien Chi Kung by Mantak Chia (Inner Traditions, 2004). Copyright (c) 2004 by Mantak Chia. Reprinted by permission of Inner Traditions.
Adapted from Tan Tien Chi Kung by Mantak Chia (Inner Traditions, 2004).