We humans are so lucky. Each of us is given three advisors for life. Some people call them energy sources, others centers of energy. Taiji’ers call them dantians. You may call them anything you want. I personally like Larry, Curly, and Moe, which will make sense later.
These centers are always informing us. Always.
I talk about them in class all of the time. We have meditations about them. Many of my posts are related to them. But let's review:
Upper Dantian (Moe)
The upper dantian is located between the eyebrows in the center of the head. This is where thoughts, ideas, perspectives, chatter resides. Also known as the mental center, it is a guide or an advisor to help you make decisions about every daily activity you conduct. It may throw out judgments or criticisms about you to consider as truth. It may bring up past memories to guide you in creating a choice today. It may offer up things to worry about out of the blue. It may conjure up a story about a family situation you are working through.
The first stooge, this is my “Moe.” My mental center is generally critical. It mouths off at me for every little thing, especially if I’m feeling a bit vulnerable or nervous. It retorts in anger, generally, and can whirl into spitting mad when it’s able to stir the Middle Dantian to help it.
Middle Dantian (Larry)
The middle dantian is located in the center of the chest at the level of the breasts. This is also known as the emotional center. It listens to the upper dantian and makes decisions on how to feel about what the upper dantian is saying. So the story your upper dantian was creating in your mind, perhaps about work or a family situation, stirs the middle dantian to feel things like anger, fear, anxiousness. And when that happens you’ll begin to notice that when the emotional center is stirred, the chatter from the upper dantian can get louder. This is my Larry, simply following thoughts around, doing their bidding. Larry and Moe, (Upper and Middle dantians) begin to feed each other like a middle school rumor mill. When the swirling begins, the strong thoughts and emotions trigger the third and final advisor, the lower dantian.
Lower Dantian (Curly)
The lower dantian is located 2 to 3 finger-widths below the belly button in the center of the body, similarly to the other two dantians. This is an energy center that is connected to the physical responses we have. So, the story the upper dantian was building created an emotional response in the middle dantian which stirred the lower dantian to increase the body’s heart rate or make the mouth dry, dilate the pupils, frow the burrow, or giggle uncontrollably. Or, if you're like me, act like Curly from the three stooges, slapping yourself silly.
These three advisors: upper, middle, lower dantians are powerful. They give us guidance on what is happening around us and what we should do about it.
They base their advice on past experiences. On how people have treated us. On accidents we’ve had. On situations we’ve lived through. They take the memories of those and quickly sum up present circumstances. And they poke us with thoughts, emotions, physical sensations to either guide us away from a potential experience, or guide us toward it.
They are rooted in fear and love.
If we felt continually humiliated by a boss and that boss came around again, the three centers would sound the sirens to run and hide under the desk! And if you followed that advice you might feel momentarily safer. But not if your boss came into your office and found you. Yikes.
But that’s how they work. They prod us to react quickly. Telling us, “Here comes that boss you hate! Remember the last time? You were humiliated in front of the whole team! They verbally brutalized you and you were so embarrassed you couldn’t think straight. Your mouth got all dry and your eyes filled with tears and your face turned bright red! Remember that? God, RUN! Get the hell out of here and away!”
And, if you notice the above situation, you’ll see how the three dantians are interconnected:
Upper Dantian: The mental center is sending all kinds of messages: “Remember…”
Middle Dantian: The emotional center responds with humiliation, embarrassment
Lower Dantian: The physical center reacts with a dry mouth, watering eyes, red face
So, how do we get away from reacting to these three centers?
We build awareness of them first. Get to know them by simply witnessing them. Watch the thoughts that churn out from your brain. They aren't always true. It's simply the upper dantian trying to keep you from feeling any possible discomfort.
Notice your emotions and become curious about them. Why did that emotion surface? Feel curious rather than reacting to the emotion when you can. Did a thought pop in and a particular emotion burst forth?
Be aware of physical sensations and begin to connect them to the thoughts and emotions your experiencing. See if there are tethers to the other dantians.
Finally, be kind to yourself. Reacting to these advisors is ingrained in us. It takes time to sit back in our sage centers and simply watch. Take your time and be the first to treat yourself the way you deserve to be treated. With plenty of time, space, forgiveness, and love.
Sometimes it helps to be reminded that you're not alone on this path to being fully present in your life. Stay connected with simple practices, reminders and humor that come in my monthly newsletter.
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