The Small Heavenly Circulation
Cannot Cause Qi Deviations
The small heavenly circulation is the free flowing of qi along the back du mai channel and the ren mai front channel. The tongue is used to connect these two channels by placing it on the roof of the mouth, usually behind the upper teeth. This acts as a connector, similar to a light switch that connects two electrical lines to a light bulb.
The reason the small circulation cannot cause qi deviations is simple; these two channels are responsible for the regulation of qi in the other organ meridians. If an organ or its channels becomes qi excessive, that excess qi will be directed to the du or ren mai. If the organ or its channel is deficient, the du and ren mai channels will send qi to that organ.
Dr.Jwing Ming says “The conception vessel is classified as a yin vessel to balance the governing vessel which is considered as a yang vessel. The conception vessel ( ren mai ) in the front is responsible for regulating the qi status in the six yin primary channels ( qi rivers ) while the governing vessel ( du mai ) governs the status of the six yang primary channels.” (p.134 Qigong Meditations)
In order for a qi deviation to happen, (qi deviation is the term used when qi is going awry in the body) the small circulation has to be blocked or not connected. If the small circulation is properly circulating, the qi is properly balanced, and no deviation can occur. Qi deviations occur when qi is blocked, in excess or in deficiency. The purpose of the small circulation is to keep the qi energy circulating through the du and ren mai channels, smoothly and evenly. The tongue touching the roof of the mouth helps that smooth circulation. Since all the other channels are regulated by these two channels, (the du and the ren mai) it is impossible for that circulation to cause any problem. The opposite is true. If the small heavenly circuit is not running, qi can and does get stuck, blocked, in excess or in deficiency, causing problems.
“Because of their importance to health, the Governing vessel and the Conception vessel are considered the two most important Qi channels to be trained in Qigong, especially in Nei Dan. Training related to these two vessels includes: 1. How to fill them with Qi so that you have enough to regulate the twelve channels, 2. How to open up stagnant areas in these two vessels so that the Qi flows smoothly …http://www.acupuncture.com/qigong_tuina/eightextra.htm
We all know qigong means working with qi. When working with qi, the Chinese developed a step by step approach. The old saying ” 100 days to build the foundation, 10 months to produce the embryo and 3 years to babysit” is used as a metaphor for the step by step approach.
The small heaven is not dangerous, nor is it advanced. Learning how to still the mind and relax the body (fang song) is usually a beginning place, coupled with some preliminary standing forms. This technically is not really qigong, since we have not started working with the qi. It is a much needed beginning point, because working with the qi will have no problems if the person is relaxed and tranquil, and coupled with a mind that can focus. This is what the 100 days to build the foundation means. To build the foundation needed to start working with qi.
The beginner usually starts with the 3 adjustments. The three adjustments are:
1.) The mind must concentrate on something. ( Tiao Xin )
2.) The Body must become deeply relaxed. ( Tiao Shen )
3.) The breath must become slow, long, thin, soft and even. ( Tiao Xi )
The three adjustments are interdependent. As the mind directs the body to relax the breathing will slow. If the breathing slows, the body will relax. When the body is relaxed the mind can concentrate more efficiently.
This is the very first step in Taoist meditations. Mastering these steps may take awhile. Notice how the mind is active doing something and not passive.
After some time of practice the student can then move to
4) Regulating the Qi. ( Tiao Qi ). This is where the small heaven practice is usually begun. It is an intermediate level and really the beginning of “working with qi.” Having the tongue touch the roof of the mouth does not regulate the qi, nor does it move the qi. It simply connects the Du and Ren channel, allowing for a natural circulation. Not putting the tongue on the roof of the mouth, could lead to blockages of qi along the channels.
Advanced practice involves
5) Regulating the Shen. ( Tiao Shen )
The full Taoist formula for qigong cultivation is:
Changing grain into Qin, changing Qin into Qi ( Lian Jing Hua Qi (炼精化气) , changing Qi into spirit (Lian Qi Hua Shen (炼气化神)) , returning spirit to nothingness ( Lian Shen Huan Xu (炼神还虚) , and combining nothingness with Tao, Lian Xu He Dao (炼虚合道).
So do not be afraid of the small heavenly circulation, it is your friend and cannot harm you. Placing the tongue on the roof of the mouth always is helpful and is never hurtful. Be safe and happy practicing qigong and taiji daily.