Upper Dan Tien

The upper dan tien is sometimes referred to as the 3rd eye that is located between the eyes and just a little up on the forehead.

The upper dan tien is thought of as the spiritual gate for the spirit and minds eye to see into spirit and spiritual matters and for the practitioners spirit to move in and out of their body / mind such as in astral travel. It is also considered to be the spot from which Yi or I is generally issued.

When performing mind projection healing I actually look through the Upper Dan Tien and into the person I am working with / on to see what the health or energetic problem is or looks like and often once I see it I can mentally manipulate the energy through Upper Dan Tien.

When I am practicing push hands I will feel the person’s root depth with my body and my Upper Dan Tien will be able to perceive where their mind intent is at, what it is doing and where they are intending for it to go. I am giving you a first hand knowledge of this as I wasn’t so much taught it as I have learned it through experience.

If you see Chi / Qi then you are almost certainly seeing it with your Upper Dan Tien. If you feel the emotion then you are most likely perceiving it with your middle dan tien and if you perceive the power, size and strength by feel then you are probably feeling it with your lower dan tien.

What is the purpose of Middle Dantian development?

Q. Sifu Richard, what is the purpose of joining the upper dantian and the lower dantian energy in the middle dantian, is that specific purpose in MA application specially in Taichi?. In general what is the purpose of Middle Dantian development?.

A. Thank you for your question.

The individual makes the connection to heaven and earth energy with the upper and lower dan tien respectively.

With this 3 powers connection and alignment practice, the mixture of the heaven and earth energy automatically happens in the middle dan tien. You do not have to do anything other than connect to Heaven and Earth to make this happen.

Before the energy mixes in the middle dan tien it is still heaven and earth energy. After the energy mixes in the middle dan tien then it is no longer heaven or earth energy and the energy becomes yours.

This is in the same way that food you intake is not yours at first. Only after food is digested and enters your circulatory system and then becomes part of your body does it become your energy.

Best Regards,
Richard

Middle Dan Tien

The Middle Dan Tien is located where most people think of their heart as being located at the solar plexus in the center of their chest. The Middle Dan Tien is generally considered to be the emotional center of energy and can be used to focus emotional mind energy or shen.

Often in very medically and intellectual (Yi) oriented Chi Kung the Middle Dan Tien is not intentionally manipulated and worked with as much as the lower and upper dan tien because you can easily cause yourself heart problems. In most acupuncture styles if the heart meridian needs work / adjustment then the needles will be placed in another meridian before or after the heart meridian so as to move a little more energy indirectly to the heart or to indirectly draw some energy away from the heart. It is done indirectly so that the heart can slowly adjust as it is ready and not be overly stimulated causing to extreme of a reaction in the way of a rapid or slow heartbeat. This is the same reason that the Middle Dan Tien is not directly stimulated or worked in medical chi Kung.

If you are feeling very emotional and feel the energy well up / build in your chest then you are most likely actually feeling the Middle Dan Tien. It can feel like a ball being inflated inside your chest. If you are not used to working with energy in the Middle Dan Tien area then it can feel a bit overwhelming and like the energy is stuck there. The overwhelming affects of it can make it difficult for you to talk and shorten your breath. Ideally you want to experience the energy enough that you understand that you are feeling / experiencing something and your body and energy are letting you know but generally you do not want to be overwhelmed or controlled by it.

One basic exercise that I have found that can help alleviate energy stuck in the Middle Dan Tien is to imagine very pretty green trees in an open meadow type of setting then hold your palms out at about 45 degrees with the Lao Gongs open and absorb the gentle tree energy into them from the trees. Let the energy gently pass all through you and you will find it will move the stuck energy and spread it out from your lower dan tien all of the way through your upper dan tien. The most important part is to really visualize the trees or use real trees and feel the energy come into the Lao Gongs. The rest happens pretty automatically causing almost instant relief.

In 3 Powers (Heaven, Earth and Man) training you work with the heaven energy with the upper dan tien and with the earth energy with the lower dan tien and then allow these 2 energies to mix in your Middle Dan Tien. You do not have to do anything with the Middle Dan Tien to facilitate the process you simply connect to heaven and earth and the rest happens automatically. This always causes me to think of how in the Christian bible in Genesis there is a passage that relates that God created man from the earth and then breathed spirit into man. Essentially man is the combination of heaven and earth powered by the divine spark imparted to us by God.

Lower Dan Tien

The Lower Dan Tien is often referred to just by the name Dan Tien by many Tai Chi and Chi Kung practitioners and as hara or Tanden by many karate practitioners.

Dan Tien translates as Field of Elixer, and it is generally thought that it refers to a pool of Chi energy. I personally consider them to be energy gates and I have now seen where others seem to be doing the same.

The lower Dan Tien is generally considered to be the bodies physical and energetic center. A basic ready reserve of Chi is stored in this area but it is mistakenly thought by many that the lower Dan Tien holds all of the bodies store of Chi. This has been taken so far that you can readily find a lot of overweight martial arts masters who talk sometimes jokingly and unfortunately sometimes seriously about their chi belly.

The true nature of the lower Dan Tien is the same as the other Dan Tiens in the body. The Dan Tiens are gateways for body energy to pass from one area of the body to another and from one aspect of the body to another such as from the energy in the body into the physical or from energy into spirit. Having said this my next statement will prove most controversial but is not said lightly or without much research.

Dan Tiens are doors or gateways. As a result of that fact the lower Dan Tien has a storage reservoir for Chi that is readily available for use. But the lower Dan Tien is not the storage area for all of the extra chi in the body unless the practitioner does not have much chi and / or is getting near to death. I say this because for the lower Dan Tien to hold most/all of the reserve chi in your body means that most of your chi has been used up.

So, where is the Chi in the body actually stored?

The answer is: In the bone marrow.

Where is the largest source of bone marrow in the body?

The answer is: In the upper legs and hips. This is the reason for dropping the energy down through the body to settle and store it.

I have had a quite a few masters tell me this behind closed doors and this seems to be closed door / indoor student knowledge. From many years of practice and comparison and contrast I have come to believe from experience that this is where the chi in the body is actually stored.

Dan Tiens

I recently saw a reference to Dan Tiens that refer to them as energy gates.  Dan Tien translates as Field of Elixir, and it is generally thought that it refers to a pool of Chi energy.  I personally consider them to be energy gates and after looking into it I now see that there are a few others who are doing the same.

The Dan Tiens are gateways for body energy to pass from one area of the body to another and from one aspect of the body to another such as from the energy in the body into the physical or from energy into spirit.

There are 3 primary Dan Tiens in the body.  One is the lower dan tien generally considered to be located either a few inches below or around the navel / belly button area.  The upper dan tien sometimes referred to as the 3rd eye that is located between the eyes and just a little up on the forehead and the middle dan tien which is basically in the center of the chest where most people think of their heart as being located.

Each of the Dan Tiens have certain functions associated with them and are considered to be specific energy or spirit gateways.  For instance the lower dan tien is thought of as containing the physical body chi energy and in many schools of thought is considered to be the center of gravity in the body.  The middle dan tien is thought of as being the emotional center and the upper dan tien is thought of as the spiritual gate for the spirit and minds eye to see into spirit and spiritual matters and for the practitioners spirit to move in and out of their body / mind such as in astral travel.

Intention can be focused through each of the dan tiens.  The lower dan tien can be used to focus physical chi energy.  The middle dan tien can be used to focus emotional energy or shen and the upper dan tien can be used to focus i or Yi intellectual mind intent and spirit.  A more advanced practitioner can also focus these different energies, mind intents etc through other body parts such as through the hands.

3 Dan Tiens Linear

In Tai Chi Nei Gung the 3 Dan Tiens Linear practice must first be performed with specific attention given to the external and internal physical alignment as well as the proper energetic alignment of the 3 Dan Tiens. Eventually, over time, you can move while only having to focus on the alignment of the 3 Dan Tiens. Last, but not least, you can move with the proper feeling of the 3 Dan Tiens linear and not have to worry about the rest.

When you perform 3 Dan Tiens linear correctly it will enhance all of the other internal aspects of your Tai Chi including the other Tai Chi Nei Gung skills. 3 Dan Tiens Linear is explained in quite a bit of detail in my book Tai Chi Energy: Activation, Cultivation and Flow.