Acupuncture Jing Meditation–5 Minute Meditation for Greater Strength, Vitality, and Joy!

by Inger Giffin, L.Ac., Dipl. Ac.


Dan Tian awareness-Chinese Medicine The past few weeks I’ve been focusing on our Jing, which is stored in our Kidneys, and is related to the Water Element in Chinese Medicine. This week, I’m going to teach you a simple, pleasurable meditation exercise that you can do outside the acupuncture clinic, to increase your kidney function, build your vital Qi to enhance health and immunity, and connect back into your peaceful center. This peaceful center is known to acupuncturists as the lower “Dan Tian”.

According to ancient Chinese texts, the Dan Tian is the source of vitality and joy, as well as the center of physical strength and source of stamina. Along with the kidneys, it stores our Jing, which as I’ve been writing about, determines our constitutional, inherited strength. Because once it’s gone, life ends, we want to keep it as strong as possible. The fact that it is often referred to as the “Sea of Qi” illustrates just how important it is in sustaining life and health, since our body is made up of Qi. Once our Sea of Qi runs dry, that’s it.
But besides just sustaining life and contributing to physical wellness, our Dan Tian is a powerful focus point for calming flaring anxiety or stress. In our western culture, we very much value intellectual, left brain “rational” and logical thinking. While there is nothing wrong with this, it’s the excessive energy that is then in our heads, which creates stressful, spiraling, “worry thoughts” that prevent us from being able to relax. For when we are disconnected from our core, the center of our Vital Qi, our body then senses that its source of energy is blocked. And that disconnection from our root energy makes it is nearly impossible to not feel stressed out, with the normal response being that we jump even higher into our heads creating plans for resolving whatever is worrying us. The problem is, when our solutions are not coming from a connection to the truth of who we are, or from the core of our strength, they only set up a path of further worry planning to work around the next problem the path creates. We become more and more disconnected, and our health, emotions, and spiritual faith suffer.
Conversely, when our energy is in our core, it is impossible to be anywhere but present–exactly and only where the very energy is that our body needs to function well, keep us healthy, and give us energy. The whole world just looks different from the perspective of inner-looking from our core. Wisdom enters in. This is the “sage” energy of the Water Element. It is what we will need to draw on once Wood season comes along in Spring.

This may seem like an esoteric Eastern concept and therefore hard for many of you to grasp, but even Christianity teaches us the value of being still, focusing only on the present instead of on worries about the future. Matthew 6:34 says “Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” Psalm 46:10 tell us “Be still and know that I am God”.  You see, all religions have echoed the same wisdom of being present.

 

But how? This is easier said than done, right? How do we stay focused on the present moment when our minds can’t help but fill up with spiraling thoughts?

 

Enter this meditation exercise. When I’m in “go go go” mode, sometimes I have to literally force myself into my core, because everything in my system is telling me I MUST stay in my head to “figure out” whatever current situation I’m facing, or to “get the job done”. It feels like stepping on the brakes and gas at the same time…my mind wants to race forward, while my higher knowing is screeching on the brakes telling me to stop, get centered, go into my peaceful core. My adrenal glands are more than happy to help me stay in stress “git ‘er done” mode, shooting out the stress hormones that keep us in low grade “fight or flight” mode and that stimulate insulin to lay down more fat cells. (This is why they say that stress contributes to weight gain, especially of fat around our bellies)  Once I get into my Dan Tian, the choices I make and solutions I see, without fail, take much less effort and unfold much more gracefully.  And, most importantly, I’m now in a place of joy, and no longer physically draining my Jing.

It is totally human to have to re-center ourselves many, many times per day. However, even just 5 minutes per day will train you into that peaceful feeling, making it easier to dip into your Dan Tian when you most need it.

So try practicing this exercise, for just 5 minutes per day, and return to it whenever you feel your mind spinning with worry-plan-thoughts!

Meditation Exercise:

Find a comfortable place to sit, either on the floor in meditation posture if you can do that, or on a comfortable, supportive chair. Sit with your back straight.

Begin taking deep breaths, allowing your lungs to feel like they’re extending all the way to the base of your pelvic bone on the in-breaths.  Imagine that your legs are like tree trunks, and that they extend down deep into the center of the earth. Just keep taking deep, relaxing breaths. When you feel relaxed, now bring your attention to a space below your belly button, deep inside your abdomen, about half-way between your belly button and your perineum. For women, the Dan Tian is actually centered right in the center of our womb, the uterus. (If you have had your uterus removed, don’t worry, you still have this energy center. In fact, it is especially important to nurture that core energy when an organ has actually been removed…we want to fill the void that was left when the uterus was removed, with strong, energizing, Qi). For men, it is located just a bit higher, below the level of the belly button.

Just stay focused on that center, allowing your entire mind to explore the feelings and sensations that you feel there. In the beginning, your mind will probably wander all over the place. This is natural and to be expected, definitely not a reason to stop or give up. Just bring it back to your Dan Tian when you notice it has wandered. Do you feel warmth there, coolness? Fullness, emptiness? Tingling? Pain? Pleasure? Without judgment, just continue to explore the physical sensations that come up.

Now visualize your legs are like hoses, with suctions on the bottom of your feet that can draw up the energy of the earth.  Start visualizing energy coming up from your feet like water, flowing gently into the center of your Dan Tian, filling it up. You can imagine it as the color blue if you like, which is the color related to the Kidneys, and the Water Element. Just continue doing this, keeping your focus on your core, visualizing it growing bigger and bigger, even extending out from your body three dimensionally. If it is hard to imagine this while thinking about energy like water, some people like to use the “energy egg” technique, in which you imagine the energy center expanding out just like an egg, all around your belly, in front, the sides, and back.

You should notice a calm, centered, peaceful feeling, as you tune into this energy. Do it for as long as you like, just noticing how peaceful you feel during and after. This memory will help you be drawn back into this place during times of stress.

That’s it!

I hope you enjoy this exercise and feel the benefits, not only in a deeper sense of peace, but also through knowing it is helping keep your vital Kidney energy, and Jing, strong!

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