The Hara and the Tanden
The Hara is the physical midpoint of the human body, and the spiritual center of the human being. Located below the belly button and a little way into the body, it’s equidistant to the feet and the head, making it a natural place to be in balance, or regain balance. Physically it’s our center of gravity. Because it’s a vibrational center, the Hara is also our spiritual center.
Where is the Hara?
The hara is the area of your lower abdominal region below your navel. This area contains the tanden which is your center of gravity. The center of gravity is located approximately 2 inches below the navel and 1/3 the distance from the front of your body to the back of your body.
You may say that it is an organ not yet discovered by the west. It can’t be seen, however it can be felt. It has always been inside of you, but remains dormant unless you know to access it.
It is said that Ki is moved by the mind “… where the attention goes, ki flows…” To effortlessly focus the awareness is to place one’s energy there.
By placing effortless emphasis and energy at this area in the lower abdomen, integration of body and mind is deepened and strengthened, and the Spirit is dynamically grounded in the Present Moment.
Accessing The Tanden
The internal arts, which consist of modalities like yoga, meditation and tai chi place special emphasis on this point. It is the road leading to the full development of the human being and the home of your intuitive judgement among other things.
It is developed by sitting in meditation and focusing the mind on the area of the tanden. The body is fully relaxed in a seated meditative posture with a straight spine. This can be accomplished by sitting in a cross legged position with the back resting against the wall, or on a straight backed chair. It can also be accessed by standing for long periods of time with your feet in a hip width stance or focusing on it while moving thru the tai chi form.
In time you will feel like you have a thick rubberband gradually starting to fill with a liquid which feels like sparkling air. This is an occasion for celebration and the beginning of your relationship with the universe and yourself. Soon the energy felt in the tanden will start to circulate throughout your body.
It is called chi and is the internal energy which runs your body. It will always be present and gives you a point to which you can focus as you move thru your daily life experience. It is your anchor with the universe and is often referred to as a gut feeling with respect to your intuitive judgement.
The chi or internal energy gradually moves down under the pelvic floor and up the spine to the top of the head moving along what is called the microcosmic orbit. My teacher always referred to it as an energy intelligence as it now moves to open the energy pathways of the body commonly called meridians. These energy pathways form the basis of acupuncture points leading too the organs which are now charged with new energy enabling them to secrete the hormones which run the body.
In order to feel your relationship with the universe, you can again sit in meditation and focus on the breath. Gradually you will feel where the breath starts the inhale and the place where it starts to exhale. The inhale starts at the tanden filling the hara and starts at the exhale at the heart center. Soon you will feel that the universe is breathing you as you focus on your breath. Then you will start to experience that link to the universe or nature.
The word hara means belly in Japanese, the area of the body bounded by the lower ribcage and pelvic bowl. It has significance in this regard, as well as vibrationally.
It contains the following organs:
- Small intestine
- Large intestine
- Gall bladder
- Adrenal glands
- Urinary bladder
- Reproductive organs
This area is also part of oxygen-rich blood and nutrition reaching a growing fetus through the umbilical cord, and waste removal in the same way.
The exact location of the Hara is known as tanden in Japan. It is the place where the ki of the organs and meridians of the entire body pool in the lower tanden, like a vast storehouse of power.
Tanden means “red rice field” or “red field.” This indicates a vast amount of powerful life force since rice is a primary source of nutrition and this is a whole field of it, glowing in red.
The Invisible Aspect:
There’s another, invisible aspect to the Hara. At birth the physical umbilical cord between the baby and the mother is removed. The baby begins breathing on its own and taking in nutrition through the mouth. There also remains a vibrational connection between the baby’s navel and the earth and universe. In fact multiple nonphysical cords continue to be active between the human being and all of life.
The earth and universe feeds us both biologically and spiritually through the Hara for the entirety of our life. We’re also in relationship to all of life from the same location. It’s a constant loop of resonance and reciprocity. We can actually experience the Oneness of life in the Hara and be able to truly embody it.
The Hara gives us a way of being in the world without attempting to escape it, and also returning to a wholesome relationship with the Earth. Spiritually, we’re able to deepen and develop our essential oneness with all of life as the realizations of the Hara filter into our consciousness.
Something To Think About:
For a table to exist, we need wood, a carpenter, time, skillfulness, and many other causes to be. The wood needs the forest, the sunshine, the rain, and so on. The carpenter needs his parents, breakfast, fresh air, and so on. And each of those things, in turn, has to be brought about by other conditions. If we continue to look in this way, we will see that nothing has been left out. Everything in the cosmos has come together to bring us this table. Looking deeply at the sunshine, the leaves of the tree, and the clouds, we can see the table. The one can be seen in the all, and the all can be seen in the one. ~
Thich Nhat Hanh
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