When we gaze at the night sky we feel the immense power of the universe. When we practice Zhan Zhuang we experience its primordial energy. This feeling, almost inexpressible, was conveyed by the great sage Lao Tse when he wrote:
When we stand in the Zhan Zhuang postures, the natural curves of our arms and legs and the relaxed state of our body open us up to the energy of the cosmos. Like the receptor dish of a radio telescope, we attract and receive signals.
You cannot think your way into this experience. You have to feel it. Your heart is the key. Open your spirit outwards like the central receptor of a telescope, beckoning and welcoming the galaxies.
When we stand upright, with our hearts open, we are aerials, poised erect between the energy of the earth and the energy of space. Our feet take in earth energy through the sensitive points of our soles and, by being relaxed, we attract the magnetic energy of the universe to our head and body.
There is another "reception point" in the middle of the lower back - the acupuncture point known as Ming Men, the Gate of Life ( page 20). If you do your Zhan Zhuang training outdoors, try standing so that the sun's rays fall on your back. Your Ming Men will naturally connect with that solar power.
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The energy of a tree is constantly flowing. It carries nutrition up from the roots to the leaves. Sugar, created from sunlight, water and carbon dioxide, moves down, feeding cells and promoting outward expansion. If you place a stethoscope against a cherry tree, or any other tree with smooth bark, you can hear it gurgling inside, especially in spring.
Within the body, the main reservoir of Chi energy is the Tan Tien in the lower abdomen. It circulates upwards to the middle Tan Tien in the center of the chest and the upper Tan Tien, often called "The Third Eye." Chi goes to the top of the head and then down to the feet, branching out to the hands, and returns again to the belly. It also flows around your entire body as your aura. Seen from above, your aura is centered over the top of your head.
Chi is something that we cannot see, touch or hear. But we can sense it and see its effects. For example, we cannot see the wind, but we can feel it and see its results. Sometimes, we use the word Chi to mean breath or gas. Chi is actually a wide variety of things ranging from gas to our aura, from a sensation that you feel to an impression that is made by a person even before you see them.
Zhan Zhuang not only strengthens your Chi, it readjusts its flow in your body. Many people suffer from blockages which trap most of their Chi in their upper body. They have headaches, stiff shoulders and tight chests. Since there is insufficient Chi in their lower body, they have digestive disorders, weak circulation in the legs and poor balance. When you practice Zhan Zhuang, your head is clearer and your upper body relaxed. The Chi reservoir in your lower Tan Tien is full and you are stable on your feet.
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