The Three Minds correspond to the Three Tan Tiens or major energy centers within the body. They can store, transform and supply energy to and from eachother, the spinal cord, sexual organs and other major organs. The Upper Tan Tien is located within the Upper Brain, the Middle Tan Tien is located in the heart and the Lower Tan Tien in the abdomen.
If the Upper Brain generates too much energy, it can subsequently transfer and store it in the organs; heart, lungs, liver, spleen, stomach, pancreas and kidneys). Excess sexual energy can also be stored in the organs and the Three Tan Tiens. The Taoists, understanding these principles, learn to generate, refine and store continually increasing amounts of energy within the body. As these energies multiply, it becomes necessary to practice growing the virtuous energy which provides for true alchemy, exchange with heaven, earth and universal energies and all those whom we share our lives with.
By storing Chi within the body and not emptying oneself outward, there is no subsequent drainage of energy. Sitting and emptying the mind is good, but very little energy is actually generated. The Taoist turns the self inwards to the universe within, the microcosmic reflection of the macrocosm without.
With the simple practice of smiling to all the organs, we can integrate our bodies, minds and spirits. They are no longer separate. The goal of the Three Minds is to combine the faculties of observation, consciousness and awareness and connect them with the forces from the six directions – above, below, left, right, front and back, drawing and fusing a sublimation of all of these external energies into the body. Eventually, with practice one can draw upon many different energies and use them as needed, thereby giving form to the formless energy that is abundant in Nature.
By combining Three Minds into One, one is able to use minimum effort to achieve maximum effect.
Three Tan Tiens
In the Tao practice, we store energy in the Three Tan Tiens. The Three Tan Tiens correspond to the Three Minds, Upper, Middle and Lower.
The Upper Tan Tien is in the Upper Brain (the crystal room, third ventrical). When it is full of energy, the capacity of the brain increases. It is the Upper Mind and is associated with observation. We store our spiritual intelligence, the mind here. All the Tan Tiens have both yin and yang within them. In nature, the yin and yang are present in all things.
Day (yang) turns into the sunset, which turns to night (yin). It is very important to feel the qualities of yin within yang and yang with yin (sunrise/sunset). One quality does not exist without the other. They are inseparable qualities of the same force.
The Heart Center between the two nipples, is the Middle Tan Tien. It is the Middle Mind and is associated with consciousness. The heart is associated with fire and is the site of original spirit (Shen).
The abdominal region surrounding the navel is like an empty universe, or ocean. It is the Lower Tan Tien. It contains the Lower Mind and is associated with feeling and awareness. Within this universe or ocean, there is a fire, like a volcano under the ocean; ‘fire under water’.
The Three Tan Tiens refer to the three reservoirs and sources of energy within the body. The meridians are rivers of energy fed by these reservoirs. The goal of opening the Three Tan Tiens is to continually fill and replenish the energy that is consumed and exchanged by the Three Minds and the rest of the body.
When you are not using the Upper Brain sink it down into the Lower one.
Tan Tien Consciousness: Second Brain
We have used terms like Upper Mind or Observation Mind, Feeling and Awareness Mind or Middle Mind. In addition to its importance as the control center for the mechanics of the physical structure of the body, the Lower Tan Tien also houses a treasure of even more far-reaching significance; it is the site of our Second Brain.
Most of us who have had Taoist training in Chi Kung, Tai Chi, various Chi meditations or healing practices have often heard the reminder, ‘Be aware of your Tan Tien.’
Being aware of your Tan Tien can be seen as being a way to train consciousness and awareness, like educating the brain in the abdominal area.
Following tests with clinical psychologist Dr. Rhonda Jessum, in Los Angeles in 1994, it was discovered that when I did the Inner Smile meditation, some of my brain waves decreased dramatically, whilst others simultaneously increased to a very high level. The results showed that I could be driving a car, but that my brain should have been resting and sleeping.
Following this I was invited to start carrying out some tests at the Institute for Applied Biocybernetics and Feedback Research in Vienna, which is one of the biggest institutes for training top athletes in Europe. They developed an instrument that can measure the brain’s potential energy, which represents all the energy in the body.
As I meditated and smiled to my abdomen they discovered that the Upper Brain was not very active but that I was still able to communicate with the doctors, answering any of their questions. My brain was in a very light resting state. But, how could I answer their questions? They said, “Hey, look! Master Chia is talking to us in his sleep. How can he talk to us in his sleep?”
After that, I said, “Oh, I understand now.” Throughout the whole practice of the Tao is the injunction, ‘train the Second Brain in order to use the Second Brain.’
I then surged the energy up to the First Brain in my head and they started to see that the energy actually rushed up there. When we are thinking, worrying, or feeling anger, shame or guilt – the energy level in the brain actually decreases and the brain doesn’t get charged up.
An article that appeared in the The New York Times 1 reported the discovery that the brain in the gut, the enteric nervous system, can do a lot of functions. It says that the gut brain can send and receive impulses; it can record experience and respond to emotions. So, it is like a brain. In this article, they reported that the large and small intestines have the same neurons as brain cells. The Lower Brain consumes less energy and can do a lot of daily work, like send and receive impulse records and experience and respond to emotions. When you lower down the Upper Mind, it will also lower the blood pressure and anxiety. After that article, a new book, The Second Brain, was published.2
On the second page of the Times’ article, it says that even the large intestine is loaded with neurons. The question was posed, ‘Can it learn?’
But I say, “Hey, this goes back to 4,700 years of the Tao practice, which says: Train all the organs; train them how to do different things.” You can rest the head brain when you’re not using it – and use the brain in the gut. Why is this so important?
The reason is because the head brain is a ‘monkey brain’ riddled with doubt, shame, guilt and a suspicious mind. It is always thinking, worrying, figuring things out, making head trips – it just keeps on, all the time.
Scientists have discovered that when people worry too much, thinking, planning, etc., This brain actually uses up a lot of energy. They approximate that the Upper Brain in the head can use up to 80% of the body’s energy, which means that there is only 20% remaining for the functioning of all of the other organs and bodily processes.
According to the Times’ article, science has discovered that the brain in the head and the brain in the gut can do some similar jobs. For example, the brain in the gut is the emotional and the feeling brain. In the west you use the expression “‘I have a gut feeling about something.” Why do people mention a gut feeling? Obviously people have some feeling in their gut. It’s very interesting that the whole Tao practice focuses upon feeling, awareness and consciousness – using the gut to feel, to be aware and to be conscious.
Cross-section of the neurons in the Large Intestine
You can rest, relax the brain in the head by using the ‘brain in the gut.’ This is the first step. Learn to forgive and let go. When we keep on remembering past negative emotions, we stop seeing the truth. To let go of the past is to empty the mind and use the abdominal mind, the awareness and consciousness mind. In the way of the Tao, the gut brain can do a lot of simple functions that are similar to the functions of the brain in the head.
This is a feeling and awareness type of functioning similar to many of our ‘right brain’ functions.
However, we need to use the brain in the head in order to perform complex functions such as reasoning, making plans and making complex calculations. For rational functions, we need to use the brain in the head for the ‘left brain’ functions. Such functions can be simplified and enhanced when we learn to combine the ‘Three Minds Into One’, and use them together as a unit.
For our daily life of consciousness, awareness and feeling, we can use either the brain in the gut or the brain in the head. When we use the Upper Brain less, it will become charged with more energy and its power will be increased. More power will be available to the body. That is why we say in Taoism, that we have to train the brain in the gut, so that we can use it when the brain in the head is resting. When the head brain is resting, it can be recharged: brain repair and maintenance occurs. It will also be able to grow new brain cells. With more energy we have more power for creativity. If we like, we can use this energy to develop our higher spiritual nature.
Whenever you smile down, the brain waves go lower and lower very quickly and the transformed energy from the Tan Tien and organs charges up the brain in the head. Just by flexing the facial muscles with a genuine smile, we can affect the Upper and Lower Brains, nervous system and the rest of the body.
We can actually make ourselves relaxed and happy by taking advantage of this built-in human mechanism. It’s natural. Just do it! Learning to smile down to the abdominal area and maintain the awareness of the relaxed, smiling sensation in the Tan Tien is the first step in training the Second Brain. Pure awareness and consciousness can change attitudes and emotions carried in the DNA.
Number 1: “Empty your mind down to the Lower Tan Tien, and fill the Tan Tien with Chi.” An axiom in the Tao is, where the mind goes the Chi follows.
Number 2: “When your mind is empty, it will be filled.” This means that when the organs have extra energy, the extra organ energy will rise up and fill the brain with Chi.
Medical science has also discovered the consciousness in the heart. They found that the heart can record a whole event, and it has its own brain, the Third Brain. Dr. Paul Pearsall has written a new book, called The Heart’s Code 3.They have found that people who have a heart transplant can actually experience the emotions of the donor.
One of the published cases is that of a girl who was brutally killed. The police didn’t know who had killed her. Her heart was subsequently transplanted into another girl. The recipient of this transplant started to get nightmares and described somebody killing her. She described the killer’s physical appearance. Finally, the mother took the girl to a psychiatrist, who then contacted the police. The girl gave the police an exact description of the ‘man from her nightmares’ and a police artist drew a reconstruction of the killer. With this new information the police were able to go and arrest the man.
Afterwards, when confronted with clear details of the crime, the man confessed that he was indeed guilty of this crime. So, from that experience, medical science came to realize that the heart can record all of an event and remember it.
Practice – Three Minds Into One
Smile down to the inner universe. Activate the heart’s consciousness and empty the mind and heart down to the Lower Tan Tien, the Abdominal Brain. Gather the ‘Yi’ (mind-eye-heart power), combining Three Minds into One. Fill the Tan Tien with this Chi. Start to spiral the energy. You are then ready to connect to the higher forces of Universal and Heavenly Chi. The Three Minds are the Upper, Middle and Lower, or Three Tan Tiens.
1. Smile to the Inner Universe
Place your palms together in salutation, in front of your heart. Feel the Laogong points in your hands connect, creating an energy loop running from your heart through your arms and hands and back again.
Laogong Point (pericardium 8)
2. Activate the Heart’s Compassion Energy
When the abdomen is warm, it is full of Chi. The Chi can then charge up to the Upper Brain.
3. Combine the Three Minds into One
Remember – what you send out, you will in some way, receive back. It may not always be what you expected but it will always be for your greater good. In the Tao we also learn to cease expectations and that there are no promises or guarantees.
1. “Complex and Hidden Brain in the Gut Makes Stomachaches and Butterflies,” The New York Times, section C1, Tuesday, January 23, 1996
2. Gershon, Michael. The Second Brain (New York: Harper Collins Publishers Inc., 1998).
3. Pearsall, Paul, Ph.D. The Heart’s Code (New York: Broadway Books, 1998)
Adapted from ” Cosmic Healing I ”
by Matt Gluck
IHM’s mission is to facilitate a fundamental cultural shift by putting the heart back into people’s personal and professional business. Love is more than mere sentiment – it nourishes the body, as well as the soul. For most of us, the heart is merely the symbol of love, but the Institute of HeartMath (IHM) has gathered impressive scientific data verifying this 10-ounce muscle actually does function as a physiological locus of love in the center of our being. Better yet, we have the ability to induce the human heart into states of love. If this “think tank” – perhaps “feel tank” would be more appropriate – amidst the towering redwoods in the Santa Cruz Mountains of California were merely dispensing more New Age wishful thinking, it’s doubtful Fortune 500 companies, Motorola, Royal Dutch Shell, the Canadian Imperial Bank, school districts, and even the U.S. Armed Forces would have sent more than 25,000 employees to IHM’s three-day workshops. So impressive is IHM’s research into the heart’s “brain” that the American Journal of Cardiology, Stress Medicine, and Journal of Advancement in Medicine have published articles on its findings. If IHM’s work could be patented into a pill, it likely would be heralded as the biggest medical miracle since penicillin. In exploring the physiological mechanisms by which the heart communicates with the brain, IHM found that the coherence of the Heart Rate Variability (HRV) – measurement of the heart’s beat-to-beat changes – is a clear indicator of inner emotional states and stress. Even more intriguing was the discovery that by utilizing simple, user-friendly techniques to feel positive emotions – rather than thinking about them – you can instantly increase HRV coherence, thus effecting measurable physiological and psychological shifts, which allows you to make less reactive, more authentic, loving decisions. IHM’s mission is to facilitate a fundamental cultural shift by putting the heart back into people’s personal and professional business, and affect solutions to some of the problems facing individuals and society today. “The planet is really moving through a paradigm shift,” said Rollin McCraty, the head researcher at the Institute of HeartMath. “A shift from the head to the heart. The heart is the base frequency that we’re hard-wired to live in.”
Historical Research into the Heart’s Brain
It was once popularly believed human beings had but a modicum of control over their minds and emotions, thought to be dictated entirely by the brain’s responses to external stimuli. Researchers showed changes in emotions were accompanied by foreseeable alterations in heart rate, blood pressure, respiration and digestion – physiological responses moving in concert with the brain’s response to given stimuli.
In the 1960s and 1970s, John and Beatrice Lacey observed this model only partially matched actual physiological behavior. The heart, seeming to have its own peculiar logic which frequently diverged from the command of the autonomic nervous system, sent meaningful messages to the brain which could alter a person’s behavior.
In 1974, the French researchers Gahery and Vigier, stimulated the vagus nerve (which carries signals from the heart to the brain) in cats and found that the brain’s electrical response was reduced to half its normal rate. In other words, the heart and nervous system were not simply following the brain’s directions.
In 1983, the heart was reclassified as an endocrine gland when a new hormone called atrial natriuretic factor (ANF), which affects blood vessels, kidneys, adrenal glands and regulatory regions in the brain, was found being produced by the heart. Dr. J. Andrew Armour discovered the heart also contains a cell type known as intrinsic cardiac adrenergic (ICA), which synthesizes and releases neurotransmitters once thought to be produced only by neurons in the brain and nerve ganglia. Dr. Armour introduced the concept of a functional “heart brain” in 1991, and his book Neurocardiology, co-written with Dr. Jeffrey Ardell, affords a comprehensive overview of the heart’s intrinsic nervous system. Considered an independent entity, the heart’s brain is composed of an elaborate network of neurons, support cells and neurotransmitters which enables it to process information, learn, remember and produce feelings of the heart and then transmit information from one cell to another, including emotional information. “We observed the heart was acting as though it had a mind of its own and was profoundly affecting perception, intelligence and awareness,” explained McCraty, whose background is in electrical instrumentation design and high-tech problem-solving. “Our studies dovetail with other researchers doing related work that more than simply being a blood pump, the heart is a highly complex, self organized sensory organ with its own functional, intrinsic brain.”
Some of the more fascinating evidence supporting the notion of a heart brain are the numerous documented stories (in the book, Change of Heart by Claire Sylvia) of heart transplant patients who have taken on the habits, expressions, tastes and memories of the dead donor. One woman knew the name, address and family of the dead donor – information that had been withheld from her. In a most dramatic case, a teenage girl received the heart of a woman who had been murdered. Shortly thereafter, in dreams and in quiet moments, the woman was able to reconstruct details from the crime scene so as to enable the police to gather enough evidence to convict the killer. “These stories take this phenomena out of the realm of coincidence,”said McCraty. “The same type of memory-encoding neurons found in the brain are also found in the heart. After an operation, it takes some time for nerves to reconnect, so that can’t explain all the heart-transplant phenomena, because sometimes personality transfers happen immediately. I think that it’s on electromagnetic and energetic levels where the real activity is going on.” Indeed, other researchers in the country have come to similar conclusions. Psychoneuroimmunologist Paul Pearsall Ph.D, author of The Heart’s Code, believes the heart resonates an intelligence field to every cell in our body. Gary Schwartz, Ph.D. and Linda Russek, Ph.D., of the University of Arizona’s Human Energy Systems laboratory in Tucson, are of the opinion that the heart “pumps” patterns of energy and information throughout the body.
What’s Love Got to Do With It?
To the ancient Greeks, the contrasting aspects of the soul – intellect and emotion -were engaged in perpetual struggle for control of the human psyche. Plato viewed emotions as wild horses needing to be restrained by the intellect, while Christian theology demoted emotions as sins and temptations to be resisted by reason and willpower. This false dichotomy of head vs. heart cannot be resolved by the mind gaining dominance over emotions, but by increasing the balance between the two systems.
Neuroscience confirms emotion and cognition are separate but interacting systems, each with its own unique type of intelligence. In his recent, best selling book Emotional Intelligence, Daniel Goleman builds a case, for the largely overlooked domain of “EQ” (Emotional Quotient) – based on such qualities as self awareness, motivation, altruism and compassion, and argues that the commonly accepted view of human intelligence is far too narrow. According to Goleman, it’s a person’s EQ as much or more than their IQ that enables them to succeed in life. When the heart sends coherent (smooth HRV waves) information to the brain, positive feelings are facilitated, perhaps explaining why many people “feel” or “sense” love and positive emotions in the area of the heart. Doc Lew Childre, HeartMath’s president and CEO, believed the key to practical application of this new knowledge would be to develop simple tools allowing people to gain more conscious control in creating increased coherence. Through intentional heart focus, these IHM techniques – Freeze-Frame, Heart Lockin, and Cut-Thru – help people bring their bodies and spirit back into balance.
Simple Tools – Freeze-Frame, the most basic IHM technique employed in moments of agitation, stress or danger, involves shifting your focus to your heart, re-experiencing a feeling of appreciation or love for just 10 or 15 seconds, then asking your heart what would be a more efficient response to the stressful situation at hand. Heart Lock-in is similar to Freeze-Frame, though done for a longer period of time – perhaps once a day for five to 15 minutes – often while listening to music specifically designed by IHM. Cut-Thru aims at addressing recurring negative emotional reactions and patterns – negative “thought loops” – to a particular recurring theme or issue in your life. Just as physical movements such as walking, driving, etc., become automatic through repetition, so do mental and emotional responses and attitudes.
Here’s an example of how I applied Freeze-Frame – taking a moment to shift attention to the heart and feel appreciation, love or caring – in my own life: A friend dropped me off at the airport at 6:15 a.m. for my 7 a.m. flight. When I reached check-in they wouldn’t let me on the flight because I’d left my picture I.D. back in San Francisco. I was furious at myself, and realized I’d have to make a round-trip back to San Francisco and hope to catch a later flight. At the curb, about to hail a cab, I suddenly remembered Freeze-Frame. After a half minute of appreciating the gorgeous day and crystal blue sky, my inner voice suggested I return inside and make sure they noted I wasn’t a no-show. This second woman at check-in then asked if I had any other I.D. I gave her a few credit cards, library card and health insurance card and I caught the next flight only 45 minutes later. “The heart has a mind that some might call the spirit, the higher self, intuition, or the still, small voice within,” said McCraty. “How many times have you said to yourself, ‘If only I had listened to my heart.’ By not listening, we often pay a price in time and energy in cleaning up the mess afterwards.”
It was pouring rain the summer day I visited HeartMath’s camp-like facilities, nestled among the redwoods, broad lawns and a willow tree-shaded pond. After touring the sleeping lodges, dining room and meeting hall, I was led to the research building full of computers and mysterious electronic devices. I placed my forefinger into a fingertip pulse sensor linked to a computer booted with a new software program developed by IHM. An incoherent HRV (jagged) appeared on the screen as I re-experienced an unpleasant situation – a recent argument with my mother. After a few minutes, a coherent (smooth) wave appeared on the screen as I settled into feelings of deep appreciation for the incredible beauty of an atoll in the South Pacific I visited last year. When I later experienced a moment of performance anxiety, the HRV line went jagged again. Another instant feedback option on the software is a black and white picture of a nature scene which slowly comes to life as the subject sustains a coherent HRV; the picture colorizes, leaves sprout on trees, flowers bloom, water runs in the stream and a bunny hops by. A third option is keeping a hot air balloon aloft over beautiful landscapes with a sustained coherent HRV
This is a positive, life-affirming computer “game” that most parents would be thrilled to have their kids play. After becoming proficient, they might be able to instantly recreate a loving heart space in the schoolyard or on the street, thus altering the outcome of a stressful or threatening confrontation. Indeed, I was pleased to hear students and teachers in more than 200 schools in the United States are already using HeartMath techniques. But more than just creating pretty pictures or allowing you to make more authentic, less reactive choices, by practicing Freeze-Frame or Cut-Thru, HeartMath has established that we engender a physiology of love or anger in our bodies which has short- and long-term effects. When the HRV is in coherence and in entrainment with the brain, it causes dramatic and favorable changes in a number of key indicators of physical and mental well-being, such as the levels of secretory immunoglobulin A (SIgA) levels, DHEA – the “anti-aging hormone,” and the stress hormone cortisol, as well as being beneficial to those with AIDS symptoms, obesity and high blood pressure.