Dan Tien

Definition - What does Dan Tien mean?

Dan tien roughly translates as “energy center” or “sea of qi,” where qi is the life force energy. They are areas of the body that are the focus of spiritual energy. Dan tien are an important concept in Taoism and Chinese medicine, and also feature in practices such as qigong, reiki and martial arts. Descriptions in literature of the dan tien date back to the 3rd century C.E.

Many meditative, spiritual and physical practices guide the yogi to focus on the dan tien. To act in a way guided by the dan tien is associated with higher levels of awareness, or samadhi.

Yogapedia explains Dan Tien

There are three dan tiens in the human body — the lower, middle and upper — and all have different fields of influence. Each dan tien is also the focal point for the transmutation of one of the energies jing, qi and shen, also known as the “three treasures.”

  • Lower — this is located two inches below the navel. It is the source of jing, essential energy that creates the physical body and enables us to make and use qi and shen.
  • Middle — this resides at the heart. Its energy is qi, which is created from food and air and relates to our thoughts and feelings.
  • Upper — this is located just above the eyebrows and is the center of shen, which is related to the spirit or consciousness.

If a reference is made simply to “the dan tien,” it is most likely referring to the lower dan tien, as this is the original source of energy. It is particularly important because the other dan tiens and other energy points of the body cannot be felt until energy is built in the lower dan tien. The lower dan tien is often used as a focal point for breathing exercises and meditation, and is considered by many to be the center of power for the body.

The dan tien differ from the yogic concept of chakras as points of energy, or prana, because unlike chakras which are considered energetic vortices, the dan tien hold and store energy. Some regard the dan tien and the chakras as distinct, but potentially cooperative energy mechanisms.

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