You Have More Brains Than You Think.
Is your brain causing all sorts of doubt and suspicion, taking you on head trips and making you go around in circles?
Thankfully, you have more than one brain. Your brain is used for observation, but you have a second brain called the gut-brain which you use for feeling. The second brain is in your abdominal region surrounding your navel.
Taoists call this the elixir field. It is the empty universe or ocean within your body. Within and at the bottom of this ocean, there is a fire brewing and the belly is like a pot or cauldron over this open fire.
You must take care to keep the fire going.
That’s why Tai Chi practice is so valuable because it involves placing your concentration into this region, known as the gut-brain or the lower dantien.
The lower dantien is a reservoir and a source of energy for your body. Your job through Tai Chi practice is to continually access, refill and replenish that vital energy, which is cultivated by your body.
When you use your upper brain, you are using a lot of energy. This is energy that is taken away from the rest of your body. When you’re thinking, worrying, or getting emotional – feeling anger, shame, or guilt, the energy level in your brain diminishes, and it doesn’t get charged back up easily like a rechargeable battery would do.
So how do you relax and minimize the number of head trips you are taking?
Go On An Inner Journey of Meditation.
Through meditation practice, you actually decrease the activity of your upper brain. Your brain becomes very light and in a restful state during meditation. If you meditate properly, your brain then switches off completely, and your gut-brain (second or lower brain) switches on.
It’s very important to train the second brain. Your brain in the gut is called the enteric nervous system.
This system can perform many functions. It can send and receive impulses. It can record experiences, and it can respond to emotions. It pretty much does what your main brain does.
Think of the time when you had this “gut feeling” about something, or think of the time you had feelings of “butterflies in your stomach” when you were nervous. Didn’t those things tell you something? Or made you make a decision?
Your intestines have the same neurons as your brain cells. When you use your intuition, you really use less energy than your upper brain to do just about the same amount of work.
It’s been said that your upper brain uses 80% of your energy during the day, leaving you with only 20% of energy for the rest of your body to use.
In Tai Chi practice, you become more aware of your lower dantien. To be aware is to train your consciousness and sharpen your focus in the abdominal area. This decreases activity in your brain.
By decreasing the activity in your upper brain, your body responds by being in a relaxed state, lowering your blood pressure and anxiety levels.
Think Less, Feel More.
Science has discovered that your head brain and gut-brain do the same jobs. So why not give your head a break and allow your body to think for you?
In the practice of Tai Chi, you focus on your body’s feelings, your body’s awareness, or consciousness. You access more of your natural senses this way.
And here’s how. I’m going to give you a few steps to keep in mind, and then you’ll go over these steps in an exercise.
Step number 1: Learn to rest your head brain by emptying your mind and sinking down. Let go of the past, and ground yourself physically and mentally into the earth.
Step number 2: Use and train your gut-brain in meditation by continually sinking your breath down to the dantien in your belly, which is an inch and a half below the navel, in a central area between your navel and your kidneys.
Step number 3: Continue to empty your mind, plow the elixir field, and plant the seeds in your abdominal region. The roots are going to go deep down your legs and into your feet. Your mind is going to relax, and in time you are going to feel it’s easier to concentrate in this psychic center – the lower dantien.
Step number 4: You’re going to use your mind to become more alert and clear. This is actually a requirement of meditation. Without your mind being alert and clear, you simply cannot meditate. That’s why all the concentration is felt within the lower dantien.
Step number 5: Use the chi coming from within the gut-brain. Set your intention right there. Plant the seeds, grow the roots, and start to direct the flow of chi from your center to wherever you want it to go.
Step number 6: Your belly will become warm as you continue to concentrate and place your energy there. The fire still burns. The heat produced by the chi in your dantien is called the fire by Taoists.
There’s definitely some mysticism involved. So let’s get started by breathing and believing. Believe in your practice to avoid any doubt that Tai Chi can be very valuable for your health, and for your life.
Let’s do an exercise. Follow my video for instruction.
Start by placing your hands on your belly and then around your belly. Exhale, release your hips, bend the knees, and bring your torso slightly forward. As you exhale, press down and feel your hands go into your belly.
Inhale, energize and rise up, making your spine nice and vertical.
Exhale, relax, feel your breath and the stale air coming out of your body as you press down with your hands into your belly.
Then energize, come right up and feel the fresh air go down into your belly. Feel the expansion in front, on the sides, and in the back of your belly.
Here is another breathing exercise for you. This one is more advanced in Tai Chi meditation.
Exhale, relax into your dantien for 5 seconds.
1 – 2 – 3 – 4 – 5
Hold your breath for 5 seconds in your dantien.
1 – 2 – 3 – 4 – 5
Inhale for 5 seconds gently and bring your mind-body back up.
1 – 2 – 3 – 4 – 5
So there are plenty of special breathing exercises you can do during Tai Chi meditation and countless other Taoists’ internal breathing exercises.
I hope you enjoyed these exercises.
What if you can direct your mind and breathing to your lower dantien or abdomen in order to feel restful? What would that do for your life?
And now that you have stored an abundance of energy in your lower dantien, how can you access the energy, direct the flow of chi and put it to good use?
Stay tuned as we continue to explore the dantiens, the meridians, energy channels in your body, the ancient Tai Chi wisdom called Taoism – a mystic tradition, and one used for alchemy.