The Microcosmic Orbit is considered to be one of the most important Kikou exercises are beneficial to both the beginner and the master. It is of the utmost importance to breathe gently and to be relaxed in body and mind. A common mistake among beginners is to imagine that the more forcefully one breathes, the more powerful one becomes. That is not true. In Kikou training, what is breathed in is not just air, but cosmic energy, and forceful breathing often constricts the flow of cosmic energy. Again, it is important to emphasise being in a relaxed state of mind. Keep your mind free of distracting thoughts while doing the exercise.
Please note that all these points are fundamental to Kikou practice. If you are a total beginner, these steps might be difficult to follow. If this is so, don’t worry. Remember the Reiki precept – Just for today. Therefore, in the time being, just try to perform the exercise as naturally as you are able.
Place yourself where the air is fresh and plentiful. If indoors; preferably by an open window or door and if outdoors; by grass, trees or flowers, where there is Ki of growth. Feng Shui dictates that one’s back should be towards the mountains and front side towards water, if these are present geographically.
Stand relaxed, balanced on the centre of the feet. Make sure your feet are pointing forward, slightly apart with your spine erect. Focus on each muscle group in the body — starting with the top of the head and ending at the tips of the toes, and consciously release the tension in each muscle group, until the only function of the muscles are to keep you vertical.
Make an internal agreement to let go of those things, which are adversely effecting your emotions for the limited time of your Kikou practice session. Place them aside for 15 to 20 minutes, or however long the Kikou session will take. Open your heart up to life.
Develop a ‘one pointed mind’ — a mind which will envelope anything that is focused upon. This is part of the process of developing a ‘Kikou state of mind’, which honours the requirements of Yin/Yang, Intuitive/Logical, Instinctive/Rational.
Important points to remember about breathing:
- Don’t underestimate the importance of breathing during your Kikou exercises. Proper breathing techniques are at the very core of practicing Kikou.
- Focus on your breathing. Don’t carry any tension in your jaw. Your jaw should be always relaxed. The most common mistake people make during most Kikou exercises is not breathing consistently and fully – and forgetting to relax simultaneously.
- Breathe in through your nose. Your breath should be long, slow and deep.
- Sit or stand up straight and relaxed, so that you can expand your chest.
- Practice abdominal breathing, that is; breathing into the abdominal area, or lower hara. This concept has been in use for centuries in Kikou. It’s now seen in modern exercise practices, from Pilates to spinning to yoga.
- Use your abdominal muscles to pull in more air. Feel your abs pull at the bottom of your lungs to fill in the lower lungs with air. This is what personal trainers call ‘filling your belly with air.’
- Contract your abs to completely deflate the lungs, pushing out all the air. Pull up and in with the abs to accomplish this.
- Try reinforcing your breaths by taking in a very deep breath and holding it in for a second before breathing in again to fill the lower lungs; then exhale completely. Remember to contract the abdominal muscles on the in breath.
Tips & Warnings:
If you experience any shortness of breath or pain during the practice of your Kikou exercises, stop immediately. You might need to seek professional medical attention.
Before we start, a quick note about the measurement system used when working with the energy points.
In Acupuncture, Acupressure, Shiatsu and any system that focus on the meridian system, the body is measured not in absolute units, but in the relative, proportional units of a given person. The distances are determined by anatomical-topographical landmarks. The basic unit of measurement is the cun (寸 cùn). The measurements are obtained from the measurements of the thumb and fingers of the person/patient.
1 cun = The width of the thumb at the level of the interphalangeal joint.
1.5 cun = The width of the index and middle fingers at the level of the interphalangeal joint.
3 cun = The width of the four fingers held together at the level of the proximal interphalangeal joint of the longer fingers.
Microcosmic Orbit Skill / Technique
(小周天功 xiǎo zhōu tiān gōng)
The Microcosmic Orbit is also known as the ‘Self Winding Wheel of the Law’ and ‘The Circulation of Light’. This is the method for refining, raising, and circulating internal energy via the ‘orbit’ formed by the ‘Governing Vessel’ (督脈 dū mài), starting at DU1 (長強 cháng qiáng – Long Strong (Sacrum Pump); located on the midline, in the centre between the tip of the coccyx and the anus) up to DU28 (齦交 yín jiāo – Gum Intersecion; located on the ventral midline, on the inside of the upper lip, at the junction between the frenum of the upper lip and the gum) and the ‘Conception Vessel’ (任脈 rèn mài) starting at RN24 (承漿 chéng jiāng – Container of Fluids; located on the ventral midline, in the middle of the mentolabial groove) back down to RN1 (會陰 huì yīn – Meeting of Yin; on the midline, at the midpoint between the anus and the dorsal commisure of the major labia, or the posterior border of the scrotum). More simply put, the flow starts at Du Mai, flows to the end of Du Mai and then to the end of Ren Mai downward to the beginning of Ren Mai. The cycle then starts again.
Activating the Microcosmic Orbit is a key step that leads to more advanced practices. It is believed that the Microcosmic Orbit Meditation fills the reservoirs of the Governing and Conception Vessels with energy, which is then distributed to all the major organ-energy meridians, thereby energising the internal organs. It draws abundant energy up from the sacrum into the brain, thereby enhancing cerebral circulation of blood and stimulating secretions of vital neuro-chemicals. It is also the first stage for cultivating the ‘spiritual embryo’ or ‘golden elixir’ of immortality, a process that begins in RN6 (氣海 qì hǎi – Sea of Ki) and culminates in the mid-brain. This is probably the best method for cultivating health and longevity, whilst ‘opening the three passes’ to higher spiritual awareness simultaneously.
‘Opening the Three Passes’ is another name for this meditation method and refers to the three critical junctions, which pave the way for energy to travel up from the sacrum through the Governing Vessel, along the spine and into the head.
The Practice of the Microcosmic Orbit Meditation
- Sit in seiza or cross-legged on the ground with your spine erect. You may also sit on a chair with your feet comfortably next to each other, with your spine erect.
- Close your eyes. NB: It is important that your eyes remain closed for the remainder of the exercise, as opening them releases the energy that you have worked to build up, out through the eyes.
- Gasshô to centre the mind, body and spirit – and to set the intent.
- Palms toward the body, place your hands on RN6 (氣海 qì hǎi – Sea of Ki), located on the ventral midline, 1.5 cun below the umbilicus. [Women: place your right hand over your left. Men: place your left hand over your right.]
- Curl the tip of your tongue up and gently touch the roof of your mouth, just behind the teeth (as you gain experience curl the tongue further back until you can comfortably touch the soft part of the palate) and keep it there throughout the exercise. This connects the ends of the Governing and Conception Vessels (NB: Remember that the only way to circulate the energy is to ensure that at all times, the tip of your tongue touches the roof of your mouth) .
- Focus on RN1 (會陰 huì yīn – Meeting of Yin) and DU1 (長強 cháng qiáng – Long Strong (Sacrum Pump)) energy points. Gently squeeze the anus and imagine that you are bringing the RN1 and DU1 energy points together. (NB: Do not apply too much force. A very gentle contraction is all that is needed). RN1 is located on the midline, at the midpoint between the anus and the dorsal commissure of the major labia, or the posterior border of the scrotum. DU1 is located on the midline, in the centre between the tip of the coccyx and the anus.
- Calm the mind and regulate the breath. Breathe in through your nose and exhale through an open relaxed mouth without releasing the tip of your tongue. (Optionally: If you have difficulty keeping the tongue in position you may relax your tongue as you exhale).
- Turn your attention within, and inwardly visualise a pocket of energy inside your body at the RN6 (氣海 qì hǎi – Sea of Energy) energy point, located on the ventral midline, 1.5 cun below the umbilicus. Within it is a point of golden light, clear and bright, immaculately pure. Focus attention on RN6 until you feel that the ‘pocket of energy’ is glowing. Your breath will naturally become light and subtle, going out and in evenly and finely, continuously and quietly, gradually becoming slighter and subtler.
- When the feeling is stable and the energy is full, use your mind to gently guide the energy through RN1 (會陰 huì yīn – Meeting of Yin) and DU1 (長強 cháng qiáng – Long Strong (Sacrum Pump)) to the DU4 (命門 mìng mén – Gate of Life) energy point located on the dorsal midline, in the depression below the second lumbar vertebra (L2).
- Steadily visualise this true energy as being like a ribbon of light gradually passing the DU6 (脊中 jí zhōng – Centre of the Spine) energy point located on the dorsal midline in the depression below the eleventh thoracic vertebra (T11).
- When has gone through this pass, visualise the ribbon of light rising up to the DU11 (神道 shén dào – Spirit Pathway) energy point, located on the dorsal midline, in the depression below the fifth thoracic vertebra (T5).
- Continue raising the energy ribbon and let it pass through the DU14 (大椎 dà zhuī – Great Vertebra) energy point, located on the dorsal midline, in the depression below the seventh cervical vertebra (C7).
- The energy ribbon continues up through the DU17 (腦戶 nǎo hù – Brain’s Door) energy point, located on the dorsal midline, 2.5 cun within the midpoint of the posterior hairline, in the depression of the superior border of the external occipital protuberance.
- Bring the ribbon of light to the DU20 (百會 bǎi huì – Hundred Meetings) energy point, located on the dorsal midline, 5 cun within the midpoint of the ideal anterior hairline at the midpoint between the two auricular apices and imagine your true spirit in the Nirvana Chamber in the center of the brain, taking in the energy. When you feel this true energy penetrating the Nirvana Chamber, it may feel hot or swollen. This means the pass has been cleared and the energy has reached the Nirvana Center.
- Next, focus the attention on the EX-HN3 (印堂 yìn táng – Hall of Impression) energy point, located on the ventral midline, between the eyebrows – and draw the ribbon of light from DU20 to EX-HN3. This may cause a tingling or throbbing sensation in the Upper Hara. Experiencing a throbbing sensation in the Upper Hara means the Celestial Eye is about to open.
- You may wish to stay and work with EX-HN3 for a few minutes, before letting energy sink down through the palate and tongue into the RN21 (璿璣 xuán jī – Jade Pivot) energy point, located on the ventral midline, 1 cun below the suprasternal notch.
- Guide the ribbon of light down to the RN17 (羶中 shān zhōng – Chest Centre) energy point, located on the ventral midline, at the level of the fourth intercostal rib, at the midpoint between the nipples. When guiding the ribbon of light through RN21 and RN17, you may feel as though there is cool water going down the Multistoried Tower of the windpipe. It is suggested that you do not swallow, but to let it go down by itself, bathing the bronchial tubes. Then the vital energy will bathe the internal organs and then return to the genitals. This is what is called ‘Return to the Root’.
- From RN17, draw the energy ribbon down through the RN12 (中脘 zhōng guǎn – Middle Cavity) energy point, located on the ventral midline, 4 cun above the umbilicus.
- Draw the ribbon of light down to the RN8 (神闕 shén quē – Spirit Gateway) energy point, located in the umbilicus.
- [Women]: From the RN8, draw the energy ribbon down to the RN4 (關元 guān yuán – Gate of Origin) energy point, located on the veneral midline, 3 cun below the umbilicus and 2 cun above the superior border of the pubic bone.
[Men]: From the RN8, draw the energy ribbon down to the RN3 (中極 zhōng jí – Middle Pole) energy point located on the ventral midline, 4 cun below the umbilicus and 1 cun above the superior border of the pubic bone.
- From RN4/RN3, draw the ribbon of light down into the RN6 (氣海 qì hǎi – Sea of Energy) energy point, where the energy gathers, mixes and is reserved for internal circulation.
- Then begin another cycle of this movement of energy and breathing (steps 8 to 21). Breathe naturally with your abdomen, and don’t worry whether energy moves up or down — on inhalation or exhalation; coordinate the flow of breath and energy in whatever manner suits you best. However, if you reach the stage where you can complete a full Microcosmic Orbit in a single breath, it’s best to raise the energy on the inhalation and draw the energy down on your exhalation.
- Finish off with the Kikou Face Massage and Sounding Heavenly Drum.
Taking the Microcosmic Orbit Meditation further…
- Perform all the above steps from step 1 to 21.
- From RN4/RN3, continue to draw the energy ribbon down to RN1 and then further down the back of your legs to the BL40 (委中 wěi zhōng – Middle of the Crook) energy points, located in the middle of the popliteal crease.
- Draw the ribbon of light down to the KI1 (涌泉 yǒng quán – Gushing Spring) energy points, located in the depression formed in the anterior part of the sole, approximately one third of the distance from the anterior and posterior aspect of the sole.
- Allow the energy ribbon to move from this point, to the tips of your toes and then up the front of your legs to the EX-LF2 (鶴頂 hè dǐng – Crane’s Summit) energy points located in the depression in the middle of the superior border of the patella.
- From EX-LF2, allow the energy ribbon to move up toward DU1 and continue with step 6 in the above exercise.
- Finish off with the Kikou Face Massage and Sounding Heavenly Drum.
If you practice this way for a long time, eventually you can complete a whole cycle of ascent and descent in one visualisation. If you can quietly practice this inner work continuously, whether walking, standing still, sitting, or lying down, then the vital energy will circulate within, and there will naturally be no problem of leakage. It is believed that chronic physical ailments will naturally disappear.
Also, once the inner energy is circulating, the breath will naturally become fine, and the true positive energy of heaven and earth will be inhaled by way of the breath — and go down to join your own generative energy. The two energies will mix together, both to be circulated by you together, descending and ascending over and over, circulating up and down to replenish the depleted true energy in your body.
This true energy harmonises and reforms, so that the vital fluids produced by the energy of daily life again produce true vitality. When true vitality is fully developed, it naturally produces true energy, and when true energy is fully developed, it naturally produces our true spirit.
If you have any physical problems or discomforts in a particular section of your body, focus your energy at the pass closest to the discomfort and let it throb there for a while. This will help heal and rejuvenate the injured tissues.