Small Heavenly Circuit (SHC) is considered one of the most powerful techniques in Taoist Qigong for elevating spiritual awareness. In ancient times, it was an esoteric meditation practice taught in secret to members of the imperial family by enlightened sages. Legend states that Lao Tzu achieved immortality by practicing Small Heavenly Circuit.
Benefits of Practice:
SHC is a meditation practice that involves linking two energy pathways that run along the midline of the body into a cycling loop. One pathway, Du Mai (Governing Vessel), extends up the back and the other, Ren Mai (Conception Vessel), down the front of the body. Along these pathways we find important acupoints that act as reservoirs of energy.
As energy is circulated around the SHC repeatedly, the current of Qi increases gradually from a trickle, to a gushing stream, and eventually an oceanic current of cosmic energy. At the higher levels, you experience yourself circuiting the heavens as you circulate SHC. As the more potent energy pass over the acupoints, special their esoteric powers are revealed and spiritual gifts are awakened.
Since all the 12 meridians cross the path of the SHC, the energy cultivated through this practice flows into the rest of the body, feeding and harmonizing the internal organs with high-quality Qi. The benefits of the practice are endless since it is said that practicing SHC is like doing all the other meditation practices at once.
The practical health benefits of SHC are countless. According to Chinese Medicine, illness represents the obstruction and imbalance of the meridian system and since SHC is the master meditation that regulates the entire system, as we circulate the energy, we heal the body.
Overview of SHC:Please note: Some Qigong acupoints locations and names are slightly different than their acupuncture counterparts.
The Du Mai extends from the perineum, up the spine, around the back of your head, it crosses the top of your head and your forehead, and ends in you mouth. There is an acupoint on the hard palate that acts as a bridge between Du Mai and Ren Mai. The tongue acts as the switch that connect these two meridians. As you touch the tip of your tongue to the roof of your mouth, softly, the Qi circulating in Du Mai flows through the tongue into Ren Mai begins in the area around your chin and extends down the midline, passes through the neck, chest, and abdomen, and continues all the way down to the perineum where it rejoins Du Mai.
Along this circuit, a few anatomical landmarks help us situate the acupoints. We focus on these landmarks to help us increase awareness of acupoints. The Chinese sages say that Qi follows mind, and by concentrating of the acupoints, we empower them energetically. By moving our attention from one point to another point, we simultaneously increase Qi flow and awaken awareness of SHC.
At first, the SHC feels fuzzy and is not clearly defined, like a mountain path at twilight. As we practice, attention tends to drift, we become easily distracted, or even fall asleep. Gradually, the path comes into brighter view and our attention becomes more stable. At some point, SHC becomes tangible and is experienced as a current of powerful energy and heightened awareness. Beyond that stage of practice, mystical corridors open up and new worlds are revealed as we circuit the macrocosm that abides within.
Details of SHC:
There are 11 points that we use to orient awareness as it courses up the back and down the front of the body. Three of these points lie on the Mai on the front of the body, one point inside the mouth acts as a relay between the two channels and the other seven points lie on Du Mai on the back.
The first 2 Ren Mai points:
The next six Du Mai points:
The last Ren Mai Point:
The main practice:
This guided visualization of the SHC is intended to help you awaken a sense of the point locations and the qualities related to them. After you have awakened the path of SHC, let go of the imaginative aspect of the practice and use the CD of Small Heavenly Circuit to enhance your practice. While recording the CD, I empowered the names of the acupoints with my Qi.
As you listen, connect with this energy to bring more power and awareness to your meditation. Each time I call out an acupoint, draw awareness to the point, pause for a moment, and as I call out the next point, move the pearl to that point. If you loose awareness once in a while, don't worry. Simply pick up wherever I am on the SHC.
At some point, I stop chanting for few minutes. During this time, instead of moving the pearl, observe the pearl moving freely. Then, I begin chant again. Continue to trace the SHC, and notice whether you can tell a difference. Finally, you will be guided back to XIa Dantian for a few minutes and guided through nourishing your Qi.