Microcosmic Orbit…and just to get some discussion going.

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    Hi all,
    Well couple things in this post. Observational sharing and just something to maybe get a more lively discussion going. I know that in Bruce’s teachings we concentrate on becoming sensitive to chi, and moving towards the practice of dissolving eventually when we are ready. I have not really noted however any mention of the micro cosmic orbit, which is something I’ve always thought was central to this kind of work that we do in meditation, but then again it might be more associated with the fire traditions than the water traditions. I’ve heard all sorts of takes on it, some that are more direct and involve visualizing and guiding the chi, others more subtle and laid back in approach and just observing.

    My experience, at least what I believe is me becoming aware of the micro cosmic orbit, is that when I breathe the chi/energy travels up the back on an inhale, and down the front with and exhale. I have become more and more aware of the process as of late, and some how my mind always focuses onto it when meditating. I concentrate on simply feeling the breath and my lower abdomen (around the dan tien) expanding and contracting, which is in sync with the rising and falling fo the chi along this path. It used to be more general, just a over all sensation of rising and falling, but as of late has become more specific.

    I don’t really try to make it happen, so much as I just focus on the breathing and am aware of the rising and falling. I also noticed with “natural” breathing it’s strong, but the intensity, particularly in rising up the back, is amped up when I fall into reverse breathing, which again at some point in each meditation just seems to happen of it’s own accord. I get a inner sense of if and the revers breath starts on it’s own. It’s not forced, like I think a lot of people try when they first hear of it, it’s gentle and as natural feeling as “Normal” breath, and within the 70 percent rule so that I’m not building tension in the breath.

    This has just been my experience with this, and I’m assuming this is what I am detecting, though I have no real way of knowing for sure, but I wanted to see if anyone would share insight or their own experiences and such when it comes to the micro and macro cosmic orbits. Just something to toss out that I thought might be interesting for discussion.



    Hi, Mike.

    The micro cosmic orbit is part of Bruce’s system. He teaches is explicitly in his Taoist breathing method. It’s also an important comoonent of heaven and earth qigong, along with the macro cosmic orbit. The macro cosmic orbit is part of the single palm change warmup and there are techniques related to both methods throughout the other qigong sets Bruce teaches.

    I think there are two main differences between the water method and other systems teaching these orbits. First, there is no visualization in the water method as there often are on other systems: it’s all based on really feeling the energy as opposed to imagining or visualizing it. The other difference is that in the water method nothing is ever forced. Fire schools push the chi through the orbit. In the water method, it happens naturally when the pathways are clear and the chi is unblocked.

    Bruce refers to this in some audio lesion, I can’t remember exactly which one. He says that while the micro cosmic orbit is the essential technique of the fire schools, inner dissolving is the essence of the water schools.

    I look forward to reading what others have to say on this.

    Best wishes,



    HI Matthew,

    Wow, thanks for the informative post! It’s interesting to know how the micro orbit fits into the water tradition vs the fire traditions, and what the differences are. From what I have felt thus far I would have to say I like Bruce’s teachings better, the idea that this happens on it’s own without forcing and that you really really feel the chi. That seems to be my experience as I get more and more into this, I like feeling the energy directly, no visualizing, that way I know its REAL and not just a mental construct.

    I’m going to make an educated guess that part of the fact that the fire schools push the chi so much, may be part of what causes so many ailments and problems for so many students of those traditions. I’ve heard all sorts of stories, most frightening of which is from someone I know who’s husband trained under master Liang Sho Yu, based in canada. They told me that it is possible, if you are not careful, to actually burn out your energy system by overworking the triple burner, and that it can take years, and sometimes is not possible, to repair the damage. 0_0 of all the things that could happen, that is just really scary. It makes sense though, since chi affects the nervous system so directly.




    I can add to Matthew’s post that Bruce discusses both orbits in detail in his sexual book. Very interesting points there not readily available in other sources.
    In my experience there are many stages in developing orbits. I don’t think the orbits should be a goal in the practice, more like a tool for further development.

    Edit to address Shou Yu Liang’s school – I took classes there. SYL teaches 2-3 levels out of 7 levels of his system. He doesn’t teach beyond 2.5 level even to his senior students, possibly only to family members; and he states this openly to everybody. SYL utilizes reverse breathing with mild packing – and I believe this is where somebody can go wrong. It is for a reason that Bruce teaches reversed breathing only to the students well ahead on the path. Overall, SYL technics are amazing. The first and the only time I’ve seen auras was when we did group meditation with SYL.



    However – just to add a counter to the discussion – I’ve also understood that the horror stories involve people going about things in a pretty stupid and unbalanced way and not following well established precautions.

    Undertaken cautiously and with balance the fire methods do not need to be that risky. The other thing i’ve heard is that that forced methods are faster than non forced methods. Yes, there is more risk but that is the usual trade-off for increased speed. Increased speed might not just be an issue of ego and ‘wanting it faster’. There’s also the idea that in the west – not usually having the opportunity to retreat to a mountaintop for 10 years – we need faster methods.

    Obviously, by taking this course i’m committing to water methods for now- apart from anything else- because they seem an excellent foundation to make fire methods safer should I ever do them. But thought these points should be mentioned. Would value any any experienced viewpoints on this…

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