taichi daoyin 太極導引
Taichi daoyin is a form of Daoist internal art, neigong, not to be confused with taichi quan, the martial art.
The premise of daoyin practice revolves around the internal centre of gravity of the body, known as the hara in Japanese.
The movements are exquisitely slow, creating a trance-like state in which space and time can be experienced on a subtle spectrum.
Taichi 太極 is the nebulous force that governs the cosmos, commonly represented by the yin-yang symbol.
Dao 導 means to guide, Yin 引 to pull, the name itself almost paradoxical, as the practice draws upon the internal gravitational core of the body, the hara 肚, also known as the lower dantian.
The vertical central axis connecting heaven and earth via head heart and hara, and the infinite permutations of Yin, Yang, and the five elements fuse dissolve combine fragment in spiralled channels with this axis at their core, just as they need to, in this perfect effervescent harmony.
What is the hara?
In traditional Japanese understanding, there are three ‘centres’ of the body, known as the 丹田 dantian (Chinese) or tanden (Japanese).
These are the Head, the Heart, and the Hara.
The head is the intellectual centre, the centre of thought, logic, and expression.
The heart is the emotional centre, the centre of feeling, and connection with others.
The hara is the literal physical centre of gravity of the body, located a few inches below the navel. It is our intuitive centre, our source of inner knowing.
The character for hara 肚 is made up of the flesh radical 肉, and the earth 土.
"Flesh of the earth"
Our intuition and our connection to gravity - the support of the earth - are inextricably linked.
We tend to think of our awareness residing in our head-minds.
The heart-mind is also a semi-familiar notion in the West, the loose translation of 心 kokoro in Japanese.
There are passing references to the hara-mind in English, notably in terms like 'gut instinct'.
When any one of these 'minds' is disconnected from another, there is an imbalance that can create emotional, mental, or physical illness.
Being in connection with hara means being in connection with the universal support of the earth.
It means being in touch with gravity, both that of the planet and of our bodies.
It means also being in touch with an innate sense of self worth, as hara is where the self-esteem resides, the inner-most part of our beings.
By learning how to connect with our bodies with this understanding, we can learn how to manage our emotions and thoughts in a more grounded way.
Anxiety is earthed.
We find calm.
We move about our days with more clarity.
We find a healthier way of communicating our anger, irritability and frustrations.
Our reactions are less volatile, our relations are more peaceful.
We are more at peace in and with ourselves, which means we don’t have to blame others or project externally.
Our worth is no longer dependent on how "productive", efficient, or busy we are.
In short, we become empowered, from the inside out.