Anchor in the Physical Body
(Photo: Meet 94 Years Old Female Chinese Kung Fu Master, Zhang Hexian)
Many of my favorite Taoist practices focus on presence in the lower abdomen. These exercises include navel breathing, massaging the kidneys, and untangling knots in the small and large intestine. First, these exercises bring energy to the vital organs from the head. The vital organs need energy to digest food, filter water, absorb nutrients, filter toxins, etc. When too much energy is in the head, it burns a lot of calories that could be used for other functions.
Second, creating awareness in the lower abdomen provides a focal point or anchor in the physical body. When life is stressful, or even exciting, we can be pulled in different directions and it can be hard to stay present. A strong connection in the center of our being gives us a place to return with our attention when life pulls us ‘hither and yon.’ Daily life can feel like a practice in separation as stress causes alienation of our true being from who we become to survive in the world. Taoism has a whole range of practices to help us heal from the fragmentation caused by modern life in the physical, mental, and emotional aspects of the body.
Which brings us to the last point. The Taoist system of awakening the connection between our body and the body of nature builds upon the foundation in the lower abdomen. If we think of climbing the core channel like a ladder, we want to start at the bottom and climb to the top. Sexual issues, emotional issues, and physical issues must be dealt with before we can reconcile more spiritual issues. If we can’t integrate different aspects of our body, it is impractical to think we can solve our separation with all of humanity or build a full connection with the energy of the stars ‘out there.’ The roots of our shadows are anchored in the physical body and they need to be healed so we can anchor vitality, spirituality, and health in the body. If this sounds worthwhile, consider the practice mentioned at the beginning, navel breathing, massaging the kidneys, and untangling knots in the intestines. Learn more in The Alchemist’s Tao Te Ching: Transforming Your Lead Into Gold: