One of my favorite meditations, the Microcosmic Orbit, is an ancient Taoist breath and attention practice that moves congested energy.
That could be sexual energy condensed in the pelvis (this is a popular practice for delaying ejaculation or orgasm), but could also be emotional or physical energy, such as anxiety in the belly, a headache, or heartache.
If you’re a meditator, and you concentrate attention at one point (say, the low belly or the tip of the nose), this practice can prevent too much energy from condensing in that one place, and instead allow any attention you’ve built up to nourish your whole system.
Also, this video takes place in a 2000 Honda Civic. Enjoy!
How was this practice for you? Let me know!
Microcosmic Orbit Transcript
Hello. This is Emma Sartwell with Somatic Spiritual Counseling, and today we’re going to do a brief version of a very simple but very powerful practice called the microcosmic orbit. And you can do it in your car. You can do it wherever you are, sitting, standing, lying down. So, find a spot for yourself. I would begin sitting, preferably, with your spine straight. And I’ll tell you a little bit about the history and the usefulness of this practice. So, it’s an ancient Taoist practice that circulates energy through two of the main energy nadis of the body, so up and down the central channel. And it’s really good for when energy is congested or getting really dense and collected in one spot, and it needs to be moved.
So, sometimes this is used in sexual practices, when sexual energy is getting more and more intense in the base of the body, in the pelvis, intensifying. And this is a way to take that energy and circulate it, so that it can actually nourish the rest of your system. But it’s not only sexual. It can also be any energy block that you feel in the center of your body. So, that might be anxiety in the belly. It might be a headache, some feeling of aggression in the brow. And also, if you’re a meditator and you tend to focus on one spot when you’re meditating, like breathing in the low belly or breathing at the nose, that can really concentrate energy in that spot. So this could be a practice that would be good to use intermittently with your other practice, so that the energy is flowing.
What else do I want to say about this practice? I think it’s a really nice one to just use when you feel like you need a little reset. You can do a quick version of this to get the energy to circulate when you’re feeling stuck.
So, take your seat, and let’s just spend a moment getting into the body and to the present moment. So, notice your feet on the floor, and maybe push into them a little bit. Give them a little extra oomph, so you can really feel the contact of your feet on the earth. Notice your legs, your seat. Notice your hands and anything they’re touching. And just take a few breaths into the lower body. You can have eyes open or eyes closed. Giving a little extra pressure to the hands, a little extra pressure to the feet. And then letting your eyes wander around your space, just letting them go where they want to go. And then landing on one thing that’s either pleasant or neutral. Giving it a little punctuation by naming it. For example, I see a gray tree. And then notice if taking a little time with that object has any effect on the inside of your body. And then letting your eyes wander again. Make sure you’re moving your neck, not just your eyes, but your whole head. And just letting ourselves orient to the external world and the present moment is usually very soothing for our nervous system.
Okay. So, coming back more internally, you might want to close your eyes. Remembering your legs and your feet and your hands. And then the practice starts by bringing your attention to the perineum. So, the perineum is the muscle between the anus and the genitals. And I like to think of it as if you’re sitting on the earth and this is your pelvis, this is everything touching the earth, if you were going to drive a stake straight into the ground, right in the center, it would go through the perineum. So, this is a very super grounding point. Bring your attention there. And notice if just bringing your attention to this spot has any effect on you. For me, my breath gets slower. I feel more grounded. I feel like my voice drops down. My thoughts are starting to slow down.
So, your attention resting there, and then imagine, visualize a small pearl of light in that spot. It can be white or silver or any color that’s soothing to you. It would be probably about the size of a penny. And visualization is different for different people. For some people, it comes very easily. For other people, it doesn’t come so easily. And that’s okay. Just whatever is there in your attention is enough. And then we’re going to start to circulate our attention. And if you can visualize the pearl, we’re going to circulate it by moving the pearl with the breath. If you don’t see the pearl, you can just use the breath and the attention on the physical form. So, the pearl is going to move down slightly to the tailbone. Move it with the inbreath, and rest with the outbreath. Move it up the spine a few inches with the next inbreath, and rest with the outbreath. And take a few slow breaths like this, bringing that pearl up and up on each inbreath.
And everyone is going to have a different pace with this practice, so just let it go at your own pace. And when the pearl of light reaches the hairline, so it goes around the scalp and stops at the hairline, then we’re going to inhale. And on the exhale, just let it fall down the front, all the way back to the perineum. Maybe resting there for a few breaths, and then we’ll go again. And starting to speed it up, so maybe it only takes two or three breaths this time to get it all the way up the spine and to the hairline. And exhale, it falls down the front. And this time, we’re going to do one breath in, brings it all the way up, one breath out, all the way down. So, let’s just do this together for about one minute.
And if your mind starts to wander, you can just start over again at the perineum.
And to close, make sure your pearl of light has landed down at the bottom. And this time, on the inhale, let it expand as much as it wants to expand, and contract as much as it wants to contract. And we’ll do that three times. And you don’t have to do anything with your hands. I’m just giving you a visual. So, setting the pearl down where it feels aligned, coming back to your feet, giving them a little push into the earth, giving your hands a little push into your thighs. And when you’re ready, start to open your eyes, gently letting color and light, allowing it to enter the eyes rather than going out to look at anything. And just taking a moment to notice if anything feels different in your system. How is your breathing? Did you start with some concentrated energy, and does it still feel so concentrated? Really noticing any shifts, no matter how small, and honoring yourself for doing this work.
So, if you have any questions or you want to know more about this practice, feel free to email me at emma @ somaticspiritualcounseling.com. And thank you for spending your time with me.
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