The Three Heavens
A Gentle Meditation Practice (with a Little Bit of Movement)
Taoist sages long ago created beautiful and evocative maps of our inner worlds to help us cultivate deep wakefulness and profound ease. Their imagery was poetic and profound. Their visions offered a path inward, in ways designed to help us find our way back home to wholeness and peace.
This 19-minute meditation (with a little bit of movement) explores what Taoist masters called the three heavens within us. These heavens, sometimes called fields of elixir, are said to serve as reservoirs of potent energy and vital essence. By nurturing and nourishing the energy flowing through these three heavens, Taoist masters taught, we can cultivate strength, peace, longevity and love.
Whether or not you believe that heaven is within you (not to mention three heavens!), exploring these three regions of the body can be both soothing and enlivening. Sometimes by simply placing our hands on our bellies we can sense some inner ease or unease, some sense of being settled or a little off. Sometimes when we place our hands on our hearts we can sense warmth or coolness, bouyancy or depletion, lushness or a sense of being parched. And when we rest our hands on our brow, we might sense congestion or thickness or deep blue peace.
More and more I find myself astounded by the natural intelligence that seems to flow not just within us but throughout the entire universe. There are ways of knowing and being, I’m learning, that are bigger and wiser than our small and passing thoughts. We short-change ourselves when we are lulled into believing that our brains are the source of the highest form of intelligence there is. Maybe we would be wise to widen our vision just a little bit.
Perhaps there’s a good reason that we instinctively place our hands on our bellies when we have a stomach ache. Perhaps we shouldn’t be surprised when we touch our hands to our chests when we are deeply moved. And any parent knows that there is something big going when we rest a cool hand on the warm brow of an ailing child. Maybe those old masters were on to something, after all.
Mostly, it seems, we just have to make room for this wise presence in the world to let it flow in fullest form. We need only pause, grow quiet and listen for the song of life to reveal itself to us, note by note.
I hope this gentle meditation and movement sequence will deepen your curiosity about the vitality that flows through each of us. I hope it will convince you that there is something more going on here than just a body serving as a house of thoughts. I hope you sense a deeper intelligence that is already within and all around. I hope you are amazed by all you find.
You can find many more resources at my home website. If you’d like to learn more about qigong, a movement practice rooted in Taoist philosophy, this essay offers a primer. And feel free to join us for a Zoom class, where we explore our natural intelligence in all of our movement and stillness sessions.
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