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Meditation Microcosmic Orbit

Meditation Microcosmic Orbit


The Small Heavenly Cycle Taoist Practice

Taoist esoteric yoga is an ancient Chinese internal energy practice used as a way to cleanse and purify the physical, emotional and spiritual body. The Microcosmic orbit meditation is a stillness practice to awaken, generate and circulate Chi in the body through the meridian pathways, clearing blockages, levelling emotions and aiding inner health, healing and longevity. It is also called the small heavenly cycle meditation practice.

This webpage shares the process of one complete cycle of the Microcosmic Orbit Taoist meditation practice. There are a number of preparatory exercises to work through before it is possible to complete one circuit. It is not advised to jump straight into a complete circuit without guidance on the preparatory stages. The inner smile meditation practice is used as one of the preparatory exercises as a way to clear and cleanse the internal organs.

Complete Cycle

When you have opened all energy centres following the process in the first beginners cycle, you are ready to move on. Progress onto regular practice of the complete circuit in multiple cycles until you are ready for continuous circulation at your own pace. A reminder that this meditation practice is based on gentle awareness of the energy centres. Avoid manipulating or forcing your feelings and preconceptions of Qi through the circuit. Become aware of each energy centre and be the observer as you flow the circuit.  The complete circuit of energy centres are listed below:

  • Navel
  • Sperm / Ovarian Palace
  • Perineum
  • Coccyx
  • Opposite Navel
  • Adrenal Glands / Opposite Solar Plexus
  • Opposite Heart
  • Opposite Throat
  • Back of Neck
  • Crown
  • Mid Eyebrow
  • Touch Tongue to Palate (not an energy centre)
  • Throat
  • Heart / Chest
  • Solar Plexus
  • Back to the Navel

Complete Circuit - Microcosmic Orbit

Energy Centre Acupuncture Point Location Anatomy Meridian Channel
1. Chi-Chung, Loss of Consciousness Shen Que, spirit gate, CV-8, CO-8, REN-8 1) Navel
2) Two inches below navel.
1) Belly button
2) Lower dantian
Conception Vessel, Ren Mai, Yin
2. Kuan-Yuan, ovarian palace Female Zhongji, CV-3, CO-3, REN-3 Female top of pubic bone, centre of ovaries, 1.5 inches from the skin, on the anterior midline, 2 cun superior to the upper border of the pubic symphysis or 3 cun inferior to the umbilicus n/a Conception Vessel, Ren Mai, Yin
2. Jing Gong, sperm palace Male Qugu, CV-2, CO-2, REN-2 Male 1.5 inches in from base of penis, on the anterior midline, 1 cun superior to the upper border of the pubic symphysis or 4 cun inferior to the umbilicus. n/a Conception Vessel, Ren Mai, Yin
3. Gate of life & death, meeting of yin Hui-Yin, CV-1, CO-1, REN-1 Perineum Middle point between anus and genitals Conception Vessel, Ren Mai, Yin
4. Passage to the door of life and death Chang-Chiang, GV-1, GO-1, DU-1 Coccyx End of the tail-bone Governing Vessel, Du Mai, Yang
5. Door of life Ming Men, GV-4, GO-4, DU-4 Opposite navel, mid point of the kidneys Between L2 – L3 Governing Vessel, Du Mai, Yang
6. Chi-Chung Jizhong, GV-6, GO-6, DU-6 Opposite solar plexus Between the adrenal glands, below T-11 Governing Vessel, Du Mai, Yang
No number: optional 
Path of the heart
Shendao, GV-11, GO-11, DU-11 Opposite heart, midline below the spinous process of the 5th thoracic vertebra Between T5 & T6 Governing Vessel, Du Mai, Yang
No number: optional
Central reunion point
Dazhui, GV-14, GO-14, DU-14 Opposite throat, midline below the spinous process of the 7th cervical vertebra Below C7 Governing Vessel, Du Mai, Yang
7. Jade pillow Yu-Chen, BL-9, either side of DU-17 Midline of the lower occiput 2-3 cun within hairline Governing Vessel, Du Mai, Yang
8. Hundred joint point, compass of men Bai-Hui, GV-20, G)-20, DU-20 Crown, junction of a line connecting the apices of the ears and the midline, 5 cun from the anterior or 7 cun from the posterior hairline Rear ears to the midline on top of the head Governing Vessel, Du Mai, Yang
9. Crystal palace, original cavity of the spirit Yin-Tang, EX-HN-3 Mid eyebrow Third eye, upper dantian Governing Vessel, Du Mai, Yang. Does not belong to Du-Mai meridian, point sits on the line & is one of the extraordinary points
10. Husan-Ying, magpie bridge, bridge over the heavenly pool (not an energy centre) n/a Place the tongue on the palate, either behind the top front teeth, or 1.5 inches behind teeth on the palate n/a Links the Ren and Du Mai, tongue acts as a switch to connect the circuit.
11. Hsuan-Chi* Tian Tu, CO-22, CV-22, REN-22 (*alternative is between CO-22 and CO23) Throat centre Depression between adam’s apple and top of collar bone (*alternative is in front of the thyroid gland) Conception Vessel, Ren Mai, Yin
12. Shun Chung Sea of Qi, CO-17, CV-17, REN-17 Heart / chest centre Mid line of the sternum level with the 4th intercostal space Conception Vessel, Ren Mai, Yin
13. Chun Kung, solar plexus, middle palace Zhong Wan, CO-12, CV-12, REN-12 Solar Plexus Half way between the sternum and navel Conception Vessel, Ren Mai, Yin

Store Qi in the Lower Dantian

The lower Dantian is located about 2 inches lower than the navel and 2 inches internally within the body.  This is where Qi is stored, known as the main energy centre or powerhouse in Traditional Chinese Medicine.  The practice of the Inner Smile cultivates positive Qi, at the end of the meditation session, you collect, consolidate and disperse any excess Qi in the lower Dantian to help sustain your life force.

Formal closing the meditation must not be forgotten, as Qi can cause ill effects if not stored in the lower Dantian correctly. Only to be done at the end of the meditation. If you are only performing the front line inner smile to the organs, you can follow on from the kidneys into this formal closing technique. If the inner smile is used as a preliminary mediation to the microcosmic orbit, this technique is used at the end of the microcosmic orbit.

  • Inhale as you smile down to the Dantian.
  • Allow Qi to sink down to and settle at the Dantian.
  • Women place their hands left over right over the Dantian (right against the abdomen).
  • Men place their hands right over left over the Dantian (left against the abdomen).
  • Rotate the Dantian in a spiralling motion, the Dantian drives the movement of the hands, not the hands leading the movement.
  • Start with a small point and spiral the circle outwards around the navel area.
  • The largest the circle reaches is the space between the top of the pubic bone and just below the solar plexus.
  • Men start with a clockwise direction x 36 times and close with an anti-clockwise direction x 24 times.
  • Men reach cultivated Yang Qi to the rest of the body during the outward spiral in a clockwise direction.
  • Men draw Yin Qi into the Dantian to balance Yang in the closing anti-clockwise spirals.
  • Men closing Qi = Yang embraces Yin.
  • Women start with an anti-clockwise direction x 36 times and close with a clockwise direction x 24 times.
  • Women reach cultivated Yin Qi to the rest of the body during the outward spiral in an anti-clockwise direction.
  • Women draw Yang Qi into the Dantian to balance Yin in the closing clockwise spirals.
  • Women closing Qi = Yin embraces Yang.
  • To find the right way, imagine the pubic bone is 12 o'clock and the solar plexus is 6 o'clock, work out anti-clockwise and clockwise from mapping this on your abdomen.
  • When you have completed 36 rotations, reverse the movement and circle the hands in the opposite direction 24 times.
  • Start with a large circle and spiral inwards to a small point on the Dantian.
  • By storing Qi in the Dantian this prevents ill effects such as excess heat in the head or heart.

Close the Meditation

  • Open the eyes softly.
  • Allow the light to filter in.
  • Become aware of your peripheral vision.
  • Rub your hands.
  • Rub over your face, cheeks, neck, back of the head.
  • Rub the shoulders, chest, kidneys and stomach.
  • Rub the legs and rotate the feet.
  • Take a few moments to settle before you begin to move.

Private Online Tuition via Zoom

Instructor Nicola provides 1-2-1 guidance in learning the Taoist practices of the Inner Smile and the Microcosmic Orbit. Receive personalised lessons at a time and pact to suit your needs. Whether you wish to learn the complete process step by step or would like mentoring for your home practice. Book a lesson in the webstore.

Downloadable EBook and Audio Guided Meditation

For students who prefer to have an offline version of the complete Microcosmic Orbit course, including audio files to take you through the Taoist practices, step by step. All of the written information is available here on the website. This purchase is the 'advert' free version. Head over to Etsy for access to the instant downloads. 

* Please note that the Taoist practices are not a replacement for conventional medical treatment. Please speak with your doctor prior to starting a new exercise programme. This article is for information purposes only and must not be taken as medical advice. *

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