Friday, February 11, 2011

What is the hara?

In short, the hara is also known as the "lower dantien." And towards the end of the following article is an explanation. But first, you'll need to have an idea of what the Dantien is.

From Wikipedia, we have the following explanation:

Dantian, Dan Tien or Tan t'ien (Chinese: Dāntián ; Japanese: 丹田 Tanden; Korean: 단전 DanJeon; Thai: ตันเถียน Dantian) literally means "cinnabar or red field" and is loosely translated as "elixir field". It is described as an important focal point for internal meditative techniques and refers specifically to the physical center of gravity located in the abdomen (about three finger widths below and two finger widths behind the navel).

The dantian is important in Neidan, qigong, neigong, tao yin and other breathing techniques, as well as in traditional Chinese medicine. It is also widely used throughout East Asian meditation and martial art theories, especially the neijia school of Chinese martial arts and Tai Chi Chuan.

Taoist and Buddhist teachers often instruct their students to center their mind in the dantian. This is believed to aid control of thoughts and emotions. Acting from the dantian is considered to be related to the state of samadhi.

The dantian also roughly corresponds to the Indian concept of the manipura, or navel chakra. In yoga philosophy, it is thought to be the seat of prana that radiates outwards to the entire body.

According to principles of Chinese alchemy, there are three dantians in the body:

The upper dantian is in the brain just behind a point directly between the eyebrows and corresponds to the Third eye. In Western anatomy, this point corresponds to the pituitary gland.

The middle dantian is in the heart and in Western anatomy is associated with the thymus gland.

The lower dantian is located 1.3 inches below the navel and is also called the golden stove. In speaking of the lower of the three points, the term dantian is often used interchangeably with the Japanese word hara (腹; Chinese: fù) which means simply "belly". In Chinese and Japanese tradition, it is considered the physical center of gravity of the human body and is the seat of one's internal energy (qi). A master of calligraphy, swordsmanship, tea ceremony, martial arts, etc. is held in the Japanese tradition to be "acting from the hara".

(Note that the dantian is a fixed anatomical location in the body but the center of gravity is a theoretical concept. The center of gravity moves within the body in relation to the posture and to the position of the limbs.)

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