Integrative Medicine Blog

Point of the Month: Transition and Acupuncture Zones

Christopher Reilly L.Ac., MSA Sunday, August 07, 2016
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As we transition from summer to fall, we can reflect and center our mind and body.

To keep with the theme of transition, we will return to the point named Qi Hai "Sea of Qi." This point is located at about one and a half inches directly below the belly button, but connects to a zone which is the center of mass in the lower abdomen known as the Dan Tian, "field of the elixir." Qi Hai is the point on the surface of the body. Dan Tian is the zone at the level of Qi Hai below the navel, but in the center of the body, not at the surface. When meditation instructors say to breathe to your lower abdomen, this is the area they are referring to.

Consider how when you look at time-elapsed photography of a night sky, you can see the circular rotation of the stars from our perspective (it is the earth's rotation that is responsible- like looking up at the stars while spinning on a very large merry-go-round). The photograph looks like many circles of light, smaller towards the center, and larger as they get further from the center- like luminescent grooves on a vinyl record. The star that is the most still at the center of this spiraling cosmic motion is called the Pole Star- which we know as Polaris in the North. Polaris came to have special meaning in traditional Chinese thought for this reason- it represents a symbol of the center around which movement and change can orient itself. The closest thing to a constant in a Universe of change.

For human beings, the concept of the center is the Dan Tian. Movement is life, and should be celebrated. The center is not to halt or deter the movement of life, but to give it a reference and an orientation. It may be helpful to think of it as the central note or melody with which a harmony and a beautiful song can come into being, rather than a disorderly clutter of noise.

Even transitions for the good can be difficult. For the theme of transition this month, keep in mind the concept of the organizing and stabilizing center. Rather than any one particular exercise, I will recommend exploring the Dan Tian with your inner eye as you breath to the lower abdomen. Putting one or both hands over Ren 6 can help hold the attention there. Find your Polaris (spoiler alert: it's inside you, not up in the sky), and while you sit in the still light of your Pole star, slowly open your awareness to the symphony of life in constant transition all around you. When it feels like it's time for the meditation to close, end as you began at the center of the Dan Tian.

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