The Greater and Lesser Circulation are Taoist chi kung exercises that focus on balancing and strengthening the energies in the body. Practitioners noticed that when chi flows abundantly, smoothly, and correctly through all the channels in the body, a substance called shen, an imperishable spirit, develops naturally.
They also noticed that in our daily lives most of us tend to expend chi in futile, even self-destructive ways. The general movements with which we perform our daily activities, for example, are often exaggerated or executed without regard to maximum efficiency. This results in a needless loss of valuable chi and tends to retard the development of shen.
Further, many of us have little regard for our posture. As a consequence, the internal organs of the body become cramped and the acupuncture channels become blocked. We also senselessly dissipate chi by indulging ourselves excessively when eating, drinking, or engaging in any other common activity.
The techniques known as the Greater and Lesser Circulation, central to Taoist chi kung, are commonly used to restore chi to different parts of our body.
When the chi flows smoothly without interruption through the two most central channels, the Du or Governing Channel, which runs up the spinal column, and the Ren or Conception Channel, which follows a line along the center of the front of the body, the chi kung practitioner has accomplished a feat known as the Lesser Circulation.
When chi flows without interruption throughout all twelve major channels in the body, as well as the Du and the Ren, another major attainment, The Greater Circulation, has been accomplished. Movement of chi in these two orbits is considered in some schools to be a precursor to the further strengthening and control of the chi.
Accounts of these states of Greater and Lesser Circulation typically describe an experience of heightened awareness and elevated consciousness. Often referred to as awakenings because of the special psychological and even mystical insights that accompany them, these states have a profound impact on those who experience them.
The states of Greater and Lesser Circulation are invariably accompanied by a sense of the eternal and an absolute certainty that each of us is now and always has been an integral part of the endless interplay of cosmic forces. To know these things with an incontestable certainty is to know something about immortality.
Continue reading to learn about the healing applications of chi kung, widely used throughout China and the world.