Tuesday, April 1, 2014

The Energy Center

The Dantian
The energy center of the body is important for proper handling of vial energy and emotions. This center is recognized in various traditions. In Chinese qigong it is known as the Dantian, the Japanese name is Hara, and in the Sufi tradition it is known as the Kath. Dantian is the name most commonly used.

The location of the dantian is in the lower belly, about 4 inches below the navel. When you focus with your attention on the dantian, you can simultaneously sense your entire body, from toes to brilliantined top knot. Because it is the energy center or power center, evergy can be directed to any part of the body when your attention is focused here.


Martial arts practitioners keep the attention focused on the diantian in order to easily direct power where it is needed. People recovering from mood disorder can benefit from paying attention to the dantian because all emotions can be sensed through the dantian. To be in touch with the body requires paying attention to the dantian.

Dantian Meditation
Mindfulness may be practiced by focusing the attention on an object, a feeling or a concept. Dantian meditation is practiced by sitting or standing erect and keeping the attention on the dantian. By practicing belly breathing, it's possible to focus the attention on the breath and the dantian simultaneously. When you notice that your attention has drifted away from the dantian, simply take a deep belly breath and return the attention.

It may be helpful to revisit the post on Noticing the Breath or Belly Breathing.

Of course, the practice of qigong may be considered to be a specialized dantian meditation. In addition to the mindfulness benefits, qigong also provides physical and mental healing and building a ready supply of vital energy in the dantian energy store.

Moving from your center

In eastern martial arts, the practitioner not only keeps his attention at the Dantian to more easily move his energy, but also to be able to move from the center. By letting one's movements come from the center, they are more easy, and have more strength and power.

In the west, we have traditionally taught focusing on the dantian although the teaching is indirect. For example, in baseball we teach players to swing the bat by swinging through the lower belly--the center of the belly or the power center. The same concept is taught for swinging a golf club and tennis racket. There are countless other sports activities that use the conecpt of the lower abdomen being the power center.

You Are Enough

You are amazing!

Stars are giant fusion reactors that transform hydrogen atoms into all the other elements in the universe. Millions of years ago, when stars went super nova, they spewed those other heavier elements throughout the universe. That’s where the oxygen in our lungs and the iron in our blood came from. You are made of stardust.

I am here today partially because the descendants of the Maya moved north from Central Mexico and then east into what is now the southeastern U.S around 800 AD. I’m here partially because a Serbian nationalist assassinated Archduke Ferdinand to precipitate the First World War. You are here, with your bodies of stardust, as the result of your own very amazing stories.
Accept All of You.

Most of our experiences, good and bad, are incorporated into our unconscious in what is called implicit memory. Implicit memory shapes our inner world and determines what it feels like to be ourselves. It gives us expectations, models for relationships, emotional tendencies, and our general world outlook.
Being mindful of your inner world—what you feel and sense and interpret about your outer experiences—helps to heal the damage of past injustices, even those that occurred when you were younger. Mindful attention to your own experience activates many of the same circuits that are stimulated in childhood by the caring attention of others.
Treat Yourself Kindly
Throughout the day, deliberately bring kindness into your actions, your speech, and most of all, your thoughts. Try to interject more themes of kindness in the movies in your mind—the simulator. The more your simulator fires the neural networks with kindness, the more the neural networks are reorganized to support more kindness and the more kindness turns up in the real world.

Friday, February 28, 2014

Welcome the Visitor

I practice mindfulness for many reasons although the biggest reason I practice is because it makes me feel better. I am one of the 21 million adults in the U. S. alone who is easily swept away by powerful emotions.

In the 13th Century, the Persian poet, Rumi, told us that being human is like running a guest house. Every morning, according to him, there is an unexpected visitor at our door. The visitor may be joy or perhaps anxiety, depression or mania.

But even if we are met by a crowd of sorrows, he instructs us to "Welcome and entertain them all equally. Meet them at the door laughing and treat them honorably." Why? Because he says, they have been sent to us as guides and that they come to prepare us for new delights.

That's clear enough but not so easy to do without a little help. That's where mindful practice comes in. Enlightenment brings us to a place of freedom and joy, a state of timeless grace, where we are transformed from shy, timid creatures into fearless ones. But you don't have to practice mindfulness for years in some secluded spot high in the mountains or deep in the forests. Enlightenment is a common occurrence and it is close at hand. It happens every time we meditate.

How does mindfulness work to help us stay calm and carry on normally when depression and anxiety begin to stir? The simplest explanation for the immediate effect is that meditation encourages the formation of the "feel good" brain chemicals. The long term effect results from the formation of new neural pathways in the brain that transform our "normal" way of seeing the world from a negative set of expectations to a more positive one.

The first noble truth of the Buddha is that life is suffering. For me, that suffering is most often recognized as anxiety and depression. Buddhist thought offers an antidote for this suffering in the cessation of craving. Just stop trying to change everything and accept life as it comes. It seems impossible until we realize that we don't have to do it forever, just for right now, in this moment.

That's mindful meditation in a nutshell. For just this moment, I can let it all go and just be content with things as they are. Soon, another disturbing thought will arise and I will be carried away with it's story. My anxiety will resurface and I will be uneasy and uncomfortable. Fortunately, the mindfulness monitor will detect my distraction from the innate calm that resides deep within, and I will remember once more that I can release those thoughts, allow them to dissolve, and I simply accept things exactly the way they are, just for this moment.

Meditation--many short moments of healing, transformative calmness that arise from my conscious decision to accept life on life's terms right now.   

It is through meditation that we transform the visitor we find at our door. We welcome them all equally and then soothe the anxious, cheer the depressed and calm the manic. Fighting them only feeds them and gives them more power. We don't fight them, we face them without fear remembering the words of Rumi.