Experiencing the Three Treasures

Tai Chi and Chi kung practice help us to develop, strengthen and maintain the treasures of the Jing, the Shen and the Chi, the Essence, the Spirit and the Energy. We can consider this as developing a vital physical body, a still, quiet connected mind and an open heart. The three treasures are centred on three areas of the body, known as tan tiens. These are described as three seas of energy. The lower tan tien is in the abdomen, centred on a point just below and behind the navel. The middle tan tien is in the chest centred on a point just behind the breast bone. The upper tan tien is in the head, centred on a point just behind the eyes.

The three treasures are three aspects of our being. The jing represents our physical presence, our essence, the shen represent our spiritual presence, the spiritual side of our nature and the chi is the integrating force that connects and binds them together. They should be considered as three parts of the whole, not as separate entities.

In the three treasures we can see a model, or representation of the world. The jing represents the earth or physical world, the shen represents heaven or the spiritual world and the chi is the universal life force or spirit that connects them. When we are operating optimally the three treasures will naturally balance themselves within us, but also will act as a means of connecting us to the energy of earth and heaven.

In Tai Chi all three treasures should be present and expressed through the form. While all are present each can be practised separately until they flow through the form without effort.

The jing is represented through a feeling of being connected to the earth, through strong and balanced stances. The physical movement comes from the lower Tan Tien. The movement should be smooth and flowing throughout the form without any feeling of stress or tension. Physical discomfort will limit the flow of the chi. The movement is created in the legs and feet, waist and hips and expressed in the upper body through the arms, hands and fingers. The form can be practised concentrating on movement of the lower tan tien, identifying areas where the movement is not natural and flowing or where there is tension or discomfort..

The heart centre is the expression of Chi through the movement. The chi extends from the heart through the arms, elbows, and wrists into the hands and fingers. The heart balances the connection to earth and heaven and the chi should become the expression of universal chi rather than individual chi. Chi will be felt most clearly in the palms and fingers. The feeling of the chi should be able to be taken all the way through the form.

The shen or spirit is expressed through the eyes. The eyes should have an inner warmth and smiling quality which is expressed throughout the form. The eyes are never focussed on a particular thing but should reflect the movement. Normally the eyes will follow the movement, but in yang elements of the form should become one pointed and slightly staring, in the yin softer and almost cowed. Again the form can be practised maintaining the warmth and quality in the eyes.

All three treasures should become natural and able to be held throughout the form, so that they each become an essential part of the expression form. Once they become natural then they can become empty, there but without effort or focus.