The exercise “Microcosmic Orbit” or sometimes they call it “Small Cosmic Orbit” or “Small Celestial Orbit” is one of the most important exercises in Taoist system.
In Ancient China this exercise was called “driving boat along the river” for the channels resemble rivers, and to drive a boat along the river, the river must have enough water, i.e. Qi. That is why to master “Microcosmic Orbit” it is necessary to have experience in practicing those exercises that contribute to generating, accumulating and refining Qi, these are Big Tree and Yang-Qigong.
The human body has 12 ordinary energy channels and 8 extraordinary. The most important of them are Du-Mai and Zen-Mai that control the work of all the other channels.
”Microcosmic Orbit” is the route of Qi during its constant circulation along the channels Du-Mai and Zen-Mai.
Zen-Mai channel has its origin in the point situated on the soft tissue under your tongue and goes down the midline along the chest and abdomen to the perineum (Huei-Yin point). Du-Mai channel starts at the Huei-Yin point and goes up along the back towards the head, crosses the crown (Bai-Huei point) and turns down along the front part of the forehead to the point on the upper palate.
Practicing qigong we always put our tongue up onto the upper palate thus enclosing both channels and encouraging constant energy circulation along the Microcosmic Orbit.
This is important from the point of personal security.
Qigong practicing generates much Qi energy. Energy stimulates the blood flow. There is more and more energy, it becomes more Yang… and starts going up, to the head. Ascending together, both blood and energy create excessive pressure in the head; it may cause headaches, brain swelling and rather serious consequences. To prevent it, energy must be routed off from the head down the front-middle Zen-Mai channel. It happens spontaneously if the tip of the tongue touches the upper palate, as the tongue like a bridge connects both channels and the energy flows freely.
When we practice Microcosmic Orbit the requirement to press the tongue onto the upper palate is of a particular importance, it must be done for the exercise practice.
One day it will not be needed any longer. Energy, like water in pipes, when the pipes are cleaned before the general turning on, will smash all the blocks on its way and train the channels…
Zen-Mai and Du-Mai channels may be trained so that they will grow wider and deeper… expanding they will imbibe and absorb the neighboring channels… and one day all the body will be one unified entire channel, one entire Dantian, one biologically active point.
Then the energy will be flowing in any part of the body steadily and uninterruptedly. There will never be any blockages and it means the perfect health.
This is the global objective of Microcosmic Orbit.
Qi energy on its course along the Microcosmic Orbit restores, cures and improves kidneys, spine, brain and the area of the Third Eye…
Microcosmic Orbit also redistributes the surplus Qi directing it to the areas that have more need of this energy.
Sexual energy deserves a special mention. After regular 1st step practicing it starts generating intensively and produces strong sexual desire. To avoid problems that might arise and turn your life into uncontrolled and destructive Pandemonium, the abundant sexual energy may be transformed into the “higher” and “more delicate” energies with the help of Microcosmic Orbit exercise.
The exercise is simple and as Yang-Qigong is practiced in a sitting position.
Chan Chuan (Big Tree) practicing accumulates enough Qi in our body. At first, we concentrate it in the area of the Lower Dantian in the shape of a sphere, just picturing the image of a red hot ball in the Lower Dantian, as we do during Yang-Qigong exercise. Then we move the energy along the Microcosmic Orbit.
There are two ways to move Qi along Microcosmic Orbit:
With your mind and breath;
Only with your mind (not binding it to the respiratory rhythm).
Without a teacher’s supervision it usually takes not less then three months to learn this exercise. Qigong calls it “a hundred-day base for the further practice”. During this period you have to abstain from sex.
This may be quite a long time and an arduous trial for the common person, who now lives in a civilized European society and is not going to display the miracles of heroism trying to persuade his instructor in his will to study.
The developing module of Wu Chan Zhong Qigong is specially designed for the ordinary secular people, having many interests and occupations beyond Qigong, so it uses special intensive methods. During the seminar class, an instructor shares his own energy with the students in order to let them feel and learn it quicker. You can also use our distance training option. However, when I say "to learn it quicker" i means "you will quicker get the sensations and gain confidence that you are doing the right thing." The sensations are not important, you'll get them sooner or later. The main thing is regular practice. Just practice, even without any sensations, they will come eventually and you will see for yourself that "it works!"
But the real result is not the sensations but an ability to enter with the help of exercises into Qigong States, and further wonderful and positive metamorphoses of your body and mind, that come with it. You have no idea how much your life will change if you are able to practice "very quiet" at least 20-30 minutes daily for 2-3 months, or if you can enter "the pause" for 10-15 minutes just for 2-3 weeks!
Microcosmic Orbit with Assistance of the Breath
Starting position: sit straight on the edge of a chair (occupying about one third of the seat space). Tuck your chin in slightly so your neck is straight. Top of your head is “hung by the string”. Eyelids are drooped. Tongue touches the upper palate. Hands are placed on the area of the Lower Dantian, left over right for women, vice versa for men.
Concentrate your attention on the Lower Dantian. Imagine and feel inside it a red hot ball.
While inhaling draw your abdomen in and slightly retract the anus, thus pushing energy out of the Lower Dantian, down to the perineum to Huei-Yin point and then – upward, along the spine and Du-Mai channel to Bai-Huei point. You have to keep mental track of energy movement from the Lower Dantian to Bai-Huei point. Doing the described operations we make the energy in the Lower Dantian more concentrated (rising its tension), it becomes more Yang and therefore goes up along the only available rout – first, it is squeezed down to the perineum and then flows up. Tracking the energy flow we stimulate the process with our mind… for where the mind is (and an intention itself) there the energy is…
Exhaling, relax your abdomen and your body, move your Qi from the point Bai-Huei down; from the upper palate through the tongue along the front of your trunk (along Zen-Mai channel) to the Lower Dantian. And mentally keep track of Qi motion.
Drawing the next breath repeat elevating Qi from the Lower Dantian through Huei-Yin point along Du-Mai channel up to Bai-Huei point; and breathing out send you Qi down back to the Lower Dantian; and so on…
The style of breath used in this manner of exercising is called reverse breath.
In the end of the exercise imagine the red hot ball again in Lower Dantian, squeeze it into the tiny dot, pat your head and chest to prevent Qi stagnation in the head area… Massage your ears and shake your body…
Practice the exercise for 30 minutes.
The pause between breathing in and out is not allowed, so Qi movement doesn’t stop in the head area.
After you breathe out you may pause and stop Qi movement to collect it in the Lower Dantian, then again send Qi along the Microcosmic Orbit;
People with severe hypertension should not to retract their anus, as it may lead to an increased blood pressure.
Microcosmic Orbit with Consciousness Alone.
Starting position is the same.
Concentrate your attention on the Lower Dantian. Imagine and feel a red hot ball inside it. Mentally send the energy down to the perineum, then send it up to the head, then down to the perineum, up to the head…
Keep mental track of energy passage along the Microcosmic Orbit as if you scan Du-Mai channel from bottom to the top and Zhen-Mai channel from top to bottom…
Complete the exercise the same as all the other exercises…
The time of practicing is 30 minutes.
Commentary: This exercise is easier practiced in the second offered style (with your consciousness) if you “trigger” Qi movement with the breathå. And in this case, it is practiced for 5-10 minutes according to the first variant and then is continued for the rest 20-30 minutes following the second style.
How “to watch” the channels?
Watch slightly, -“seems to be, seems not to be”. You do not have to imagine the ball and its detailed journey along the “rivers” of your channels… Do not drag your sensations through the body, don’t force anything. Just run your attention along the back (you may do it along the spine or “somewhere around there”)...
And one day you will feel something really moving up your back and then going down the abdomen…
At first the area of sensation will be really small and it will skip along rather than being continuous; sometimes sensed, sometimes not… You do not have to intensify concentration, just remember the description of Yang-Qigong exercise practice.
With further experience the sensations become more stable and the felt area of energy course tends to expand and grow.
One day, just by turning a part of your attention to your back you will feel the entire Du-Mai channel, and turning it to your front you will have a feeling of Zen-Mai channel. In this case, you just have to turn your mental sight from back to front… feeling the energy circulation in the channels…
And some time later, it may be enough just to sit in the starting position of Microcosmic Orbit and you will be able to feel the energy flow in each and every point of Microcosmic Orbit at one and the same time. All you have to do is just to sit still, watching and feeling the entire Microcosmic Orbit. This is a good way to achieve “pause” as if you were sitting on the river bank watching the waters constant stream.
Even when you are busy with the daily routine, doing whatever you are doing , your Microcosmic Orbit will be constantly working and, as soon as you pay attention to it you will feel the entire Microcosmic Orbit…
It signifies that the exercise has been mastered and Microcosmic Orbit has opened.
About “drooping eyelids” as an element of the starting position of this exercise: Some people insist that it is the most effective for meditation because with the eyes open, too much irritating information penetrates our mind and interferes with the State of Qigong. But they also say that when you keep your eyes completely closed it may take you to “getting into some peculiar trance states that have nothing in common with the State of Qigong”, or you may just easily fall asleep.
In fact, it is better to close your eyes and not spend additional effort keeping the “slit between the eyelids narrow enough to see the light”. Strictly following this recommendation we impose our mind with some unnecessary effort-consuming rules and regulations. It may hinder relaxation and main effect. Do the exercises in a way that is most simple, easy and comfortable for you. When the State of Qigong comes, all the muscles, including those on your face, will relax on their own and your eyelids will open on their own, the right way for you.