A look at the body’s three energy centres
The Three Minds correspond to the three Tan Tiens or major energy centres within the body. They can store, transform and supply energy to and from each other, the spinal cord, sexual organs and other major organs. The upper Tan Tien is located within the upper brain, the middle Tan Tien is located in the heart and the lower Tan Tien in the abdomen.
If the upper brain generates too much energy, it can subsequently transfer and store it in these organs. Excess sexual energy can also be stored in the organs and the three Tan Tiens. The Taoists, understanding these principles, learn to generate, refine and store continually increasing amounts of energy within the body. As these energies multiply, it becomes necessary to practice growing the virtuous energy which provides for true alchemy, exchange with heaven, earth and universal energies and all those whom we share our lives with.
By storing Chi within the body and not emptying oneself outward there is no subsequent draining of energy. Sitting and emptying the mind is good but very little energy is actually generated. The Taoist turns the self inwards to the universe within, the microcosmic reflection of the macrocosm without.
With the simple practice of smiling to all the organs, we can integrate our bodies, minds and spirits. They are no longer separate. The goal of the Three Minds is to combine the faculties of observation, consciousness and awareness and connect them with the forces from the six directions – above, below, left, right, front and back, drawing and fusing a sublimation of all of these external energies into the body. Eventually, with practice one can draw upon many different energies and use them as needed, thereby giving form to the formless energy that is abundant in Nature.
By combining Three Minds into One, one is able to use minimum effort to achieve maximum effect.
Three Tan Tiens
In the Tao practice, we store energy in the Three Tan Tiens. The Three Tan Tiens correspond to the Three Minds, upper, middle and lower.
The upper Tan Tien is in the upper brain (the crystal room, third ventricle). When it is full of energy, the capacity of the brain increases. It is the Upper Mind and is associated with observation. We store our spiritual intelligence, the mind here. All the Tan Tiens have both yin and yang within them. In nature, the yin and yang are present in all things.
Day (yang) turns into the sunset, which turns to night (yin). It is very important to feel the qualities of yin within yang and yang with yin (sunrise/sunset). One quality does not exist without the other. They are inseparable qualities of the same force.
The Heart Center between the two nipples, is the middle Tan Tien. It is the Middle Mind and is associated with consciousness. The heart is associated with fire and is the site of original spirit (Shen).
The abdominal region surrounding the navel is like an empty universe, or ocean. It is the lower Tan Tien. It contains the Lower Mind and is associated with feeling and awareness. Within this universe or ocean, there is a fire, like a volcano under the ocean; ‘fire under water’.
The three Tan Tiens refer to the three reservoirs and sources of energy within the body. The meridians are rivers of energy fed by these reservoirs. The goal of opening the Three Tan Tiens is to continually fill and replenish the energy that is consumed and exchanged by the Three Minds and the rest of the body.
When you are not using the Upper Brain sink it down into the Lower one.
Tan Tien Consciousness: Second Brain
We have used terms like Upper Mind or Observation Mind, Feeling and Awareness Mind or Middle Mind. In addition to its importance as the control center for the mechanics of the physical structure of the body, the lower Tan Tien also houses a treasure of even more far-reaching significance; it is the site of our Second Brain.
Most of us who have had Taoist training in Chi Kung, Tai Chi, various Chi meditations or healing practices have often heard the reminder, ‘Be aware of your Tan Tien.’
Being aware of your Tan Tien can be seen as being a way to train consciousness and awareness, like educating the brain in the abdominal area.
Following tests in Los Angeles in 1994, it was discovered that when I did the Inner Smile meditation, some of my brain waves decreased dramatically, whilst others simultaneously increased to a very high level. The results showed that I could be driving a car, but that my brain should have been resting and sleeping.
Following this I was invited to start carrying out some tests at the Institute for Applied Biocybernetics and Feedback Research in Vienna, which is one of the biggest institutes for training top athletes in Europe. They developed an instrument that can measure the brain’s potential energy, which represents all the energy in the body.
As I meditated and smiled to my abdomen they discovered that the Upper Brain was not very active but that I was still able to communicate with the doctors, answering any of their questions. My brain was in a very light resting state. But, how could I answer their questions? They said, “Hey, look! Master Chia is talking to us in his sleep. How can he talk to us in his sleep?”
After that, I said, “Oh, I understand now.” Throughout the whole practice of the Tao is the injunction, ‘train the second brain in order to use the second brain.’
I then surged the energy up to the brain and they started to see that the energy actually rushed up there. When we are thinking, worrying, or feeling anger, shame or guilt – the energy level in the brain actually decreases and the brain doesn’t get charged up.
An article that appeared in the The New York Times 1 reported the discovery that this brain in the gut, the enteric nervous system, can do a lot of functions. It says that this gut brain can send and receive impulses; it can record experience and respond to emotions. So, it is like a brain. In this article, they reported that the large and small intestines have the same neurons as the brain cells. After that article, a new book, The Second Brain, was published. 2 The Lower Brain consumes less energy and can do a lot of daily work, like send and receive impulse records and experience and respond to emotions. When you lower down the Upper Mind, it will also lower the blood pressure and anxiety.
On the second page of the Times’ article, it says that even the large intestine is loaded with neurons. The question was posed, ‘Can it learn?’
But I say, “Hey, this goes back to 4,700 years of the Tao practice, which says: Train all the organs; train them how to do different things.” You can rest the head brain when you’re not using it – and use the brain in the gut. Why is this so important?
The reason is because the head brain is a ‘monkey brain’ riddled with doubt, shame, guilt and a suspicious mind. It is always thinking, worrying, figuring things out, making head trips – it just keeps on, all the time.
Scientists have discovered that when people worry too much, thinking, planning, etc., This brain actually uses up a lot of energy. They approximate that the Upper Brain in the head can use up to 80% of the body’s energy, which means that there is only 20% remaining for the functioning of all of the other organs and bodily processes.
According to the Times’ article, science has discovered that the brain in the head and the brain in the gut can do some similar jobs. For example, the brain in the gut is the emotional and the feeling brain. In the west you use the expression “‘I have a gut feeling about something.” Why do people mention a gut feeling? Obviously people have some feeling in their gut. It’s very interesting that the whole Tao practice is feeling, awareness and consciousness – using this gut to feel, to be aware and to be conscious.
You can rest, relax the brain in the head by using the ‘brain in the gut.’ This is the first step. Learn to forgive and let go. When we keep on remembering past negative emotions, we stop seeing the truth. To let go of the past is to empty the mind and use the abdominal mind, the awareness and consciousness mind. In the way of the Tao, the gut brain can do a lot of simple functions that are similar to the functions of the brain in the head.
This is a feeling and awareness type of functioning similar to many of our ‘right brain’ functions.
However, we need to use the brain in the head in order to perform complex functions such as reasoning, making plans and making complex calculations. For rational functions, we need to use the brain in the head for the ‘left brain’ functions.
For our daily life of consciousness, awareness and feeling, we can use either the brain in the gut or the brain in the head. When we use the Upper Brain less, it will become charged with more energy and its power will be increased. More power will be available to the body. That is why we say in Taoism, that we have to train the brain in the gut, so that we can use it when the brain in the head is resting. When the head brain is resting, it can be recharged: brain repair and maintenance occurs. It will also be able to grow new brain cells. With more energy we have more power for creativity. If we like, we can use this energy to develop our higher spiritual nature.
Whenever I smile down, the brain waves go lower and lower very quickly and the transformed energy from the Tan Tien and organs charges up the brain in the head! Just by flexing the facial muscles with a genuine smile, we can affect the Upper and Lower Brains, nervous system and the rest of the body.
We can actually make ourselves relaxed and happy by taking advantage of this built-in human mechanism. It’s natural. Just do it! Learning to smile down to the abdominal area and maintain the awareness of the relaxed, smiling sensation in the Tan Tien is the first step in training the Second Brain! Pure awareness and consciousness can change attitudes and emotions carried in the DNA.
Number 1: “Empty your mind down to the lower Tan Tien, and fill the Tan Tien with Chi.” An axiom in the Tao is, where the mind goes the Chi follows.
Number 2: “When your mind is empty, it will be filled!” This means that when the organs have extra energy, the extra organ energy will rise up and fill the brain with Chi.
Medical science has also discovered the consciousness in the heart. They found that the heart can record a whole event, and it has its own brain, the Third Brain. Dr. Paul Pearsall has written a new book, called The Heart’s Code 3. They have found that people who have a heart transplant can actually experience the emotions of the donor.
One of the published cases is that of a girl who was brutally killed, but the police didn’t know who had killed her. Her heart was subsequently transplanted into another girl. The recipient of this transplant started to get nightmares and described somebody killing her. She described the killer’s physical appearance. Finally, the mother took the girl to a psychiatrist, who then contacted the police. The girl gave the police an exact description and a police artist drew a reconstruction of the killer. With this new information the police were able to go and arrest the man.
Afterwards, when confronted with clear details of the crime, the man confessed that he was indeed guilty of this crime. So, from that experience, medical science came to realize that the heart can record all of an event and remember it.
Practice – Three Minds Into One
Smile down to the inner universe. Activate the heart’s consciousness and empty the mind and heart down to the lower Tan Tien, the Abdominal Brain. Gather the ‘Yi’ (mind-eye-heart power), combining Three Minds into One. Fill the Tan Tien with this Chi. Start to spiral the energy. You are then ready to connect to the higher forces of Universal and Heavenly Chi. The Three Minds are the Upper, Middle and Lower, or Three Tan Tiens
1. Smile to the Inner Universe
Place your palms together in salutation, in front of your heart. Feel the Laogong points in your hands connect, creating an energy loop running from your heart through your arms and hands and back again.
2. Activate the Heart’s Compassion Energy
Smile to the heart and feel it softening. Feel love, joy, compassion and happiness. Smile down and empty the mind to the lower Tan Tien, the Abdominal Brain. Fill the Tan Tien with Chi and start to spiral the energy.
When the abdomen is warm, it is full of Chi. The Chi can then charge up to the Upper Brain.
3. Combine the Three Minds into One
1. Lower the Upper Mind (observation mind) down to the Lower Tan Tien.
2. Lower the Middle Mind (consciousness mind) down to Lower Tan Tien.
3. Combine three minds into one mind at the Lower Tan Tien (the Yi).
4. Manifest your intent out at the mideyebrow. Remember – what you send out you will in some way, receive back. It may not always be what you expected but it will always be for your greater good. In the Tao we also learn to cease expectations and that there are no promises or guarantees.
1. “Complex and Hidden Brain in the Gut Makes Stomachaches and Butterflies,” The New York Times, section C1, Tuesday, January 23, 1996
2. Gershon, Michael. The Second Brain (New York: Harper Collins Publishers Inc., 1998).
3. Pearsall, Paul, Ph.D. The Heart’s Code (New York: Broadway Books, 1998).