Opening Your Meridians, Dan Tian, and Energy Gates
It is time to learn about your meridians, subtle circulation, and some deeper aspects of your nervous system.
You do not need to know the Meridian system to practice or teach the Foundations of Qi Gong. If you want to go deeper into the experiential nature of all of your Energy Systems (Organs, Meridians), Energy Centers (Dan Tian, Acupuncture points), and Energy Gates (all of the above – plus special trees, rock, waterfalls, or other places in Nature that you have Sacred Relationship with for Healing yourself and others).
I often use the metaphor of wire and electricity to describe the importance of an abundance of Jin – contractile tissue and Jing – Inner Adaptive Capacity or Mojo in your Meridians. Physically, and clinically, a Meridian’s health includes the nutritional status, inflammatory status, circulatory capacity, vascular health, muscle tone, flexibility, fascial membrane integrity (on some very deep levels), and the cellular collagen matrix of every cell of that part of your body.
What makes your meridians exist where they are, and how they relate to your internal organs and instincts has, primarily, to do with instinctual gestures based on ancient animal reflexes, body language, and the behavior and experience of your Ancestors. These subtle, sensual, emotional, and instinctual qualities of your Meridians also affect the physical characteristics, the abundance of wire, and the free movement of Qi through your entire meridian system.
It is at this level of interaction that the more ancient Dao Yin practices become essential.
If you need to go deeper into Qi Gong Healing practices, you will need to learn about the embodiment and release of Trauma. Whatever form of Somato-Emotional Release you are working with, I recommend reviewing it very thoroughly with the instinctual and emotional energies that are mostly trapped in specific Meridians.
What does a Qi Gong practitioner learn after they have opened their joints, connected with Qi, practices the traditional forms that feel like home, done some inner recalibration, is full of aliveness while restoring their Jing and Jin, and opening and restoring all of your meridians?
Nei Gong – Daoist and Shaolin Inner Cultivation
Every embodied, meditative, contemplate, and energetic system of practice in the world agrees on the existence and importance of Energy Centers (Dan Tian 丹田) or Chakras. Dan means alchemic substance or practice; Tian means field of cultivation. There are many names, locations, and ‘properties’, but the way I was taught, the relationship is what matters. Describing Energy Centers in English is surprisingly challenging, so please follow me through a fun little metaphor about the structure of Space-Time, and…
Back to Meridians for a moment. The Chinese Characters for your Meridians, in general, are Jing Luo 经络, which describe tension and integrity of the warp and weft of a cloth, or, perhaps, the collagen matrix of your structures and membranes.
After a few years of practice, your awareness and ‘environment of interaction’, will naturally shift from all of the refinements you can engage in to heal and restore your Meridians ability to function and flow, to an interaction with the Meridian Structure (Collagen and Qi) and Nature (Instinct and Emotion) of each Meridian as a system, as much as a part of your arm, back, or leg.
At this level, each Meridian becomes an Energy Center. So, here is the metaphor…
Imagine that you can go on several powerful Spiritual picnics to learn and heal in uniquely, and often life-changing ways. At each of these picnics you sit on a certain colored checker blanket, or a sacred blanket, share a meaningful meal, or a powerful medicine, and have an immersive and tangible experience that absolutely confirms you are engaged in a process that has thousands of years of experience to share.
Every time you want to back to that experience, practice, or Energy Center, you begin with the picnic blanket. Each blanket has a certain pattern or design, a representative of the inner warp and weft of its Existence and Nature, its ‘energy message’, or its vibration. Each picnic, and each blanket, are a great metaphor for the concept of Tian 田– a field of Cultivation.
Although each Dan Tian can be experienced as a location, it is important to remember the picnic, the relationship, the interaction, the next ceremony on the Sacred Blanket(s) of Existence that we call Dan Tian (which are made of unique patterns in the fabric of Space-Time). Each of your primary Three Dan Tian are made up of all of the organs, tissues, membranes, and cells of different parts of your body.
Each Dan Tian is also a certain feeling tone of interaction with your physical body, your somatic memories, Ancestral traumas and gifts, a very unique and powerful level of your meridians, and a ‘unique in this universe’ warp and weft made of the fabric of Space-Time or Dao. Each of your Dan Tian is the Universe coming together into a kernel of energy and consciousness that you can learn to resonate with, reawakening an entire internal world of wisdom, healing, and potential self-cultivation. It just some time to become the picnic blanket.
If you commit to an occasional ‘Monastic Rite of Passage’ with some advanced Dao Yin and Nei Gong practices, you can complete your journey of restoring all of your organs, Meridians, and Energy Centers to their optimal state of Being, Existence, Resourcefulness, and Function.
Below are some opportunities that you should be able to access or create for yourself to go into these higher levels of Qi Gong practice.
- The Willow Dance – a Meridian Activating and Harmonizing Qi Gong – this practice explores a series of postures and movements that help you ‘have a picnic’ with each of your Meridians (Jing Luo) and instinctual and emotional connective tissue reflexes (Jing Jin). This very intuitive approach to interacting with each Meridian as a moment, a need, as a posture and gesture, and a quality of letting go, all in an easy ‘wave-like’ dance
- Reviewing all your Joint Opening, traditional forms, and inner refinement and healing practices, with an awareness of your meridians will deepen your practice in many ways. This process is profoundly transformative and restorative. This experience is especially valuable if your intent to become or are a Healer of any kind. The best way to become sensitive to Qi and to another person’s Meridians is to completely open your own. This is meant to be a lifelong process. Review the Level Four practices on Somato-Emotional Release first if you feel that you hold any Trauma in your nervous system, fascia, or Meridians.
- Nei Gong and the Microcosmic Orbit – with a deeper awareness of your Dan Tian, you can safely complete your training with the Microcosmic Orbit and open your Macrocosmic Orbit and all your Meridians. This form of seated meditation can sometimes take a few hours of sitting still to completely engage in.
- Whole Body Meridian and Dan Tian Regulation (Hun Yuan Qi Gong- part two) – if you are comfortable with becoming your picnic blankets, or becoming the one interacting as your Three Dan Tian, your Six Innate or Unborn Minds (Yuan Shen), then it is time to open your Nine Ancestral Gateways or Nine Ancestral Dan Tian. Although this aspect of Daoist practice is ‘Esoteric’ in nature, these experiences are also an invitation to move beyond process and progress. Being Complete in a Complete Universe is enough.
- Qi Gong and Nei Gong for Women – at this level of Qi Gong practice, the distinctions between Male/Yang energy systems and Female/Yin energy systems become much more important. Throughout life, we all go through puberty, midlife, and menopause or andropause (menopause for men). If you want to teach Qi Gong and Nei Gong and ensure you are not creating imbalances, this relatively small amount of study could prevent many Spiritual accidents. Male and Female bodies have a different balance of Blood and Qi, Yin and Yang, as well as slightly different locations of focus during Inner Cultivation and Dan Tian practices. Qi Gong also has many specific circulation and activation practices to relieve painful menstruation periods, cyclic emotional overwhelm, and of the symptoms (warning signs) of menopause. Qi Gong, fertility, and sexual vitality have a long history of working together and finding balance.
- Inner Reflection and Inner Dialoguing. Nei Guan 內觀– this is a form of daily practice, self-acceptance, self-reflection, and meditation. At a certain point, it becomes clear that some parts of your Spiritual journey are just beginning, and that the next ten years will be as profound as all the old stories about wandering hermits and shamans. Transcending the mundane and coming home to your Authentic Self has always been the Path. Inner Dialoguing is a partner practice involving a careful form of inquiry into the voices in your head, where they come from, and how to ‘employ’ them more skillfully in your life, and in your Mind.
If you can commit the time and effort to attain this level of Qi Gong practice, knowledge, and experience, you would have developed something like having a Black Belt.
Getting to this level of Qi Gong practice and experience usually takes a few years of dedicated and professionally guided practice. This is as far as most people take their Qi Gong practice.