Microcosmic orbit

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    Hi, I find myself simultaneously focusing on the microcosmic orbit while practicing. Should it be running up the back of the spine and down the front regardless of the movements. Thank you.



    Qi runs up and down the spine at the same time.
    It also runs up and down the front at the same time.
    But “regardless of movement” is ambiguous;
    I’m not sure what you mean.

    Bruce addresses the Microcosmic Orbit in the
    “Old Style Tai Chi Edition”
    (I’m not sure if you subscribe to it.)
    In the Qigong Sections he is teaching
    “The Marriage of Heaven and Earth.”

    Marriage of Heaven and Earth has 2 parts:
    1. The Macrocosmic Orbit
    2. The Microcosmic Orbit

    In Qigong Session 1
    Bruce gives an overview of the Micro Cosmic Orbit
    (Qigong Section, Month 14)

    He notes that there are many variations.
    He describes the Standard version in which
    1. the Qi starts at the perineum
    (to draw energy up from the Earth)
    2. up the spine
    3. to the crown of the head
    4. to the roof of the mouth
    This is the Du Mai or Governing acupuncture Extraordinary Vessel

    Then it runs down the front
    5. through the tip of the tongue
    6. down the front
    7. back to the perineum
    This is the Ren Mai or Conception acupuncture Extraordinary Vessel.

    Bruce compares these Vessels to an optic fiber, through which signals flow both ways simultaneously.

    Bruce says that the purpose of the Microcosmic Orbit is to unify all the energies and acupunture points of the body.
    (Ultimately you want to open the Central Channel.)

    Bruces says to move in the direction which is easiest for you,
    But up the spine and down the front is not the only way to move.

    Mantak Chia teaches this Standard way.

    Michael Winn teaches the Standard way, too.
    (Bruce has consulted with Michael Winn. Winn is a student of Mantak Chia.)
    Winn will extend the Microcosmic Orbit above the head
    (Bruce’s etheric field.)
    (Mantak Chia goes truly cosmic.)

    I use the Standard way,
    although I start at the head
    moving my hands down the front
    with an deep exhalation,
    closing/bowing the spine forward, gathering in energy,
    storing energy.
    (Zen training emphasizes exhalation into emptiness)

    (My hands are tracing a mirror-image circle:
    that is, when moving hands down they are moving in a circle as if moving behind the back;
    when they move up my hands are circling, reaching forward/ extending in front of my body.)
    A bit tricky.

    Then I inhale up the back of the spine,
    opening and extending the vertabrae of the spine,
    releasing energy
    (bringing yang/shen spirit up to the mind).
    This is a non-standard breathing technique
    taught by Master Wiliam C. C. Chen.

    However, most martial artists like to exhale here,
    screaming and yelling, HA!!!

    Then I reverse the directions for a equal number of revolutions—
    to balance all energies

    So it depends on your purpose.

    Nevertheless, Qi (if there is such a something) moves in all directions.
    You only use your intent to move it in a direction to achieve your personal purposes.

    In Tai Chi there are endless levels.
    My purpose is to incorporate and synchronize ad many as possible.
    But Alas! There are always inconsistencies.

    Do what is EASY for you.

    Good luck,




    Hi Penny,
    Bob had given a good discussion of the topic, especially on the bits and pieces of information that is scattered all over the various energy arts qigong.
    May I add in some of my observation.
    1)Qi and qi meridian is exact and precise knowledge. It is so precise and accurate that a person can have his meridian point acupuncture and then carry out open surgery without any need for anaesthetic. It is just an experiment to demonstrate the effect of acupuncture, but it is still better to use anaesthetic medicine.
    2)Typical microscopic orbit is to move qi up the Du meridian at the back and down the Ren meridian in the front. Back is yang and moves up while the front is yin and moves down. Du Mai connects up all the smaller yang meridian at the back and Ren Mai connects up all the smaller yin meridian in front. This is the natural flow .
    The reverse flow is done after you have a very good natural flow. Is also commonly done but I forgot for what reason.
    3) It is better to work on the smaller and general meridian system first then when appropriate to work on the microscopic orbit. Bruce has mentioned a lot on this topic but he did not come to clearly explain the topic as I have found on most of his qigong videos.
    4)Du mai and Ren mai are located just under the skin like other meridians.
    Microscopic obit can be done by circulating up the spine (the vertebrate) and is mentioned by Bruce, I don’t know how it is done and for what reason. It is supposed to be a Taoist water method. Maybe it is for improving the nervous system and the brain.
    The central channel is a channel connecting the lower dantien, the middle dantien and the upper dantien (third eye in spiritual practice). This central channel and diagram is mentioned in the various Bruce qigong books. I suppose advance qigong like Gods playing in the cloud will want to work on and improve the function of these channel, but to single it out and work on this particular channel may not be appropriate. This channel is too powerful to play with and to work on the upper dantien is strictly spiritual practice that requires close knowledge and supervision by a proper master.
    Good Luck.



    Sorry I have mixed up microcosmic and microscopic in my earlier discussion. Maybe microscopic is more appropriate as it is a smaller orbit compare to the other orbit that goes through the four limbs as well.
    Microcosmic orbit is a fanciful term. There is no microcosmic play at all, It is strictly regulating or circulating qi within the physical body. Linking this qigong to the cosmo is meaningless, might as well call it cosmic qigong.
    Working on the central channel which includes the three dantien will then have a cosmic implication if so intended.. It can go beyond the physical body to the cosmic and into outer realm of existence.The central channel is not for microcosmic orbit qigong.
    Good Luck



    Hi Penny

    Just throwing in my tuppence … and a slight cautionary one. As I don’t know your experience or ‘level’, but personally, earlier in my practice I had some unpleasant experiences experimenting with the microcosmic orbit, before I was really ready, it should not be forced. What is great about EA and Bruce’s teaching from the water tradition is with the continual emphasis on sinking, the rising (up the spine and elsewhere ) only happens sort of organically when sinking has truly embedded in your system.

    Apologies if I am being over cautious in your case…but, even if not applicable to you, maybe could be said for others as there is so much stuff out there on the internet & books which can make one want to try stuff without suitable grounding.





    Okay thank you for the feedback. I try to keep it simple, enjoy the learning. I can feel the microcosmic orbit energy flowing at times, sometimes still gets a bit blocked.

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