Body, Heart, and Spirit

After 30 years of  learning, practicing, re learning, teaching, and learning more, I feel I am finally coming to understand  the very real potential for Tai Chi and Qi Gong as practices for true integration of the body/heart/and spirit.

I don’t necessarily think it should take that long ( admittedly I am  at times a slow to learn and  periodically  a lazy practitioner). But after recently completing  a certification process through the Institute for Integral Qi Gong and Tai Chi (IIQTC) and teaching several workshops on The 10 phases of Qi Cultivation, as outlined by Dr. Roger Jahnke, I understand at a visceral level the wisdom of our bodies to lead and the importance of sharing that lead equally with our hearts and our connection to the universal (body/mind/spirit). I call that firing equally on all three levels – 33.3% each!

In the system of Tai Chi and Qi Gong  there are an acknowledged three centers of energy cultivation – the lower, middle, and upper Dan Tiens. The lower Dan Tien ( and the one given most the most attention throughout the early years of instruction and practice)  is situated in the body 3 inches or so below the navel and  1 to inches within. This is the center associated with our relationship to our ourselves, our bodies, and our connection to the earth. It is our place of “gut wisdom”.

We live in a culture that values most of all what the thinking mind can do. From our heads we analyze, worry, predict, and generally figure things out to the best of our ability – often leaving out input from our  what we are sensing in our bodies, what our hearts are feeling, or what the universe may be guiding us to do. In a sense we walk around top heavy – off balance.

It is no wonder so much attention is given almost exclusively to the lower Dan Tien in learning Tai Chi . To correct  an imbalance sometimes you have to go to the other extreme to eventually find you way back to the middle ground.

In learning Tai Chi we keep sending our attention and our breath to the lower Dan Tien. We pay attention to sensations in our body. We feel our feet on the ground. We pretend our eyes are in our belly and move through the room ( or the world)  guided from there. At first it is our physical balance that improves but over time that way of relating to the world gives  one a firmer foundation so we are not so easily thrown by the small and large disruptions and challenges in our daily lives.