In this segment for Secret Men's Enlightenment, I lead us in the Microcosmic Orbit, a simple and powerful Taoist practice to help us build, circulate, and store our vital energy. “Microcosmic Orbit” is a translation of the Chinese Taoist term for a full circulation of energy through the front and back of the body. The Japanese term for this is “shoshuten,” or “circling of light.” The Microcosmic Orbit is a subtle channel that runs in a circular pattern around the entire upper body.
When we practice the Microcosmic Orbit, we energize the front and back of the chakras, energy “wheels” that distribute energy through the physical and subtle bodies. We gather our energies and consciously direct them into the orbit, the thin subtle channel. We raise them up from the muladhara chakra at the perineum, up to the ajna chakra between the eyebrows, and then back down through the other chakras to muladhara again. This completes the orbit. In this process, we fill ourselves with beneficial energy, which becomes available to all the nadis or meridians in the body, the pathways that move vital energy to where it is needed in our system.
We practice the Microcosmic Orbit as follows: on the inhale, raise the energy from the lower belly near the perineum and direct it up through the fine subtle channel in the spine, moving the energy up and over the crown of the head, and holding the flow of energy at the ajna chakra. On the exhale, let the energy move down the subtle channel in the middle front of the body, back down to the lower belly.
The Microcosmic Orbit is a key preparation for many advanced Taoist practices. When we practice this activation of energy regularly, we fill the Governing Vessel and Conception meridians, key energy channels in Taoism. This makes abundant energy available to all other meridians and organs in the body. For this reason, Taoism considers the Microcosmic Orbit to be one of the best ways to cultivate good health and a long life, and it also lays the foundation for deepening our spiritual understanding.