Small Heavenly Circle

What is the “small heavenly circle” in taoist qigong?


The “Small Heavenly Circle,” also known as the “Microcosmic Orbit” or “Xiao Zhou Tian” (小周天) in Chinese, is a fundamental concept in Taoist qigong practice. It refers to the circulation of qi (life energy) along specific energy channels or meridians in the human body. The main pathways in the Small Heavenly Circle are the Ren and Du meridians, which run along the front and back midlines of the body, respectively.

The Small Heavenly Circle is considered an essential practice in qigong, neidan (inner alchemy), and certain forms of meditation. The goal is to cultivate, refine, and circulate qi through these main channels, connecting and balancing the body’s energy system. By doing so, practitioners aim to improve their health, vitality, and spiritual development.

The practice of the Small Heavenly Circle typically involves the following steps:

  1. Focus on the Dantian: Begin by concentrating on the lower Dantian, a point located about two inches below the navel, which is considered the body’s energy center. This helps to gather and refine the qi.
  2. Circulate the qi: Next, guide the qi along the Ren meridian (up the front midline of the body), passing through important points such as the Huiyin, Zhongji, Shanzhong, and finally reaching the Dabao point, located just below the collarbone.
  3. Connect Ren and Du meridians: After reaching the Dabao point, the qi is guided towards the throat and to the base of the tongue. At this stage, practitioners may use a specific technique called “connecting the bridge,” which involves gently touching the tip of the tongue to the upper palate. This action is believed to help connect the Ren and Du meridians and facilitate the flow of qi between them.
  4. Guide qi along the Du meridian: Next, the qi is directed from the base of the tongue to the back of the head, along the central line of the skull, and down the spine, following the Du meridian. Key points along this route include the Yuzhen, Fengfu, Dazhui, and Mingmen.
  5. Return qi to the Dantian: As the qi descends the spine, it eventually reaches the Weilu point, located at the base of the spine. From there, it is guided through the Huiyin point (between the genitals and anus) and back to the lower Dantian, completing the Small Heavenly Circle.

The practice of the Small Heavenly Circle typically involves slow, deep, and relaxed breathing, along with a quiet and focused mind. It may also incorporate specific visualization techniques and body postures to assist in the circulation of qi. Over time and with consistent practice, the Small Heavenly Circle is said to promote overall well-being, improve energy levels, and lead to profound spiritual growth.

It is important to note that qigong practices like the Small Heavenly Circle should be approached with caution, especially for beginners. It is highly recommended to seek guidance from an experienced qigong instructor to ensure proper technique and avoid potential risks or imbalances in energy flow. As with any spiritual or physical practice, patience, persistence, and a balanced approach are key to reaping the benefits of the Small Heavenly Circle and other qigong exercises.

Author: chatGPT 4



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