Staring into the Heavens
When we look at the stars, there are 4,548 visible in each hemisphere. In the Milky Way, there are 250 billion, plus or minus 150 billion. Of all of these stars, there is one that Taoists notice above the rest. Directly above the north pole, with the earth angled 23.5 degrees toward it, is the North Star. (Taoism is a tradition of the northern hemisphere, but if you’re in the southern hemisphere a similar principle is at work.)
While the entire heavens move around it, the North Star stays fixed in the center. It was a reliable reference to travelers and to the Taoists it represents the point where stillness meets movement—and it can be a reliable reference for spiritual meditation. It is the point where time begins as the wheel of the Big Dipper turns to mark the endless procession of time.
The alchemical maxim “as above so below” tells us that a similar process must be underway in our body. The body is a microcosm of nature and we have a still point inside of us. Tuning into our center can be a place to find stillness and timelessness amidst the busyness of everyday life and the cycle of changes in the seasons of life. The meridians and organs are the energy grid inside the body. This is like the zodiac and planets that flow in the heavens.
To find the center of the body, breathe into the lower tan tien; the area behind the navel at the center of our body. Our center and the North Star are both portals into stillness and the source of creation. In more advanced meditations, Taoists consider the heart the center of the physical and energy bodies. But the lower abdomen and the survival/animal aspects of our psyche must be dealt with first.