The Tan T’ien and Qi Gong

I had an interesting Qi Gong question from a student in Italy recently about the position of the tan t’ien points (also known as dantian), so I thought I would share extracts of my answer as I know this subject is of interest to many fellow practitioners.

The question of the tan t’ien points are very important in Qi Gong practice and other meditative techniques and there can be some debate about the number and position of the tan t’ien on the body.

Qigong Tan T'ien (c) Alex Greenbank 2011

Location of the Tan T’ien

My present understanding is that there are three main tan t’ien: upper, middle and lower.

The upper tan t’ien is situated between the eyebrows in what people normally call the ‘third eye’ area, on the Du or Gv Channel on an extra point called Yintang; the middle tan t’ien is situated in the middle of the chest on the point Ren 17 (Shanzhong); the lower tan t’ien is situated approximately 2 Cun below the navel, on the point, Ren 8 (Shenque).

One thing I would like to point out is to remember that the tan t’ien points are not situated on the surface of the body. They are in fact on the cross-section of the appropriate point to the centre, core line. This is a mistake a lot of new students make that can slow their practice down as by focussing on the wrong area of the body it is harder to feel the cultivation of Qi.

Blockages in the Heart Tan T’ien

Through Qi Gong and we can work through blockages of Qi in these key areas. So, for instance, a blockage in the middle tan t’ien – the Heart area, is one of the most common. It can have many causes but emotions are often at play and, in my experience, and individual may have been deeply emotionally hurt in the past, which has affected the Qi in the Heart and the Pericardium. They instinctively block their heart tan t’ien, mistakenly thinking that they are protecting themselves against any future pain or hurt, when in actual fact they have given themselves a substantial emotional internal Qi block. The longer you leave this ‘block’ in place, the more difficult it is to move it in the future, and this can result in feelings of anxiety, panic and stress.

Now, some practitioners think that there may be tan t’ien in the throat, or the throat chakra, I think they call it in yoga, but in my experience, blockage in the throat has its roots in the Heart blockage that has moved up the Ren channel affecting the ability to express yourself correctly, which results in a feeling of dryness, ‘cotton wool’ or phlegm blocking the Meridian.

Using Qi Gong to Move Blockages

One Qi Gong exercise that can really help to move these blockages is called the ‘Eight Silken Brocade’ (八段錦氣功 or Baduanjin and also translated as ’Eight Pieces of Brocade’, ’Eight Section Brocade’, ’Eight Silken Movements’) . The importance of stretching through the eight movements of the silk brocade is to expand from a soft Yin position to a harder Yang position and during the movements one should experience the cultivation of Qi through the meridians of the body and particularly the three tan t’ien.

The Eight Silken Brocade is well respected in China as the thought is that each movement opens and stretches every Meridian in the body whilst stimulating every internal organ. At the beginning of your practice this exercise will seem more physical and, although this has great benefits, this is definitely not the full story as the Eight Silken Brocade should be practised to cultivate your Qi. You will know when this is happening because you will instinctively feel like slowing down and being mindful through every position. Qi Gong is a practice that should be nurtured and savoured slowly, practised with enjoyment and, as the Taoist teachers say, it is the gateway to the mystery

To see my video demonstration of the Eight Silken Brocade click here 

About David James Lees

Ordained Taoist, traditional Chinese medicine practitioner, Qigong Master, coach, therapist, author and speaker. I enjoy supporting people from all walks of life on their journey to rediscover their authentic self and reach their true potential. I specialise in helping individuals suffering from emotional issues such as stress, anxiety, depression.
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