The Ming-men refers to an energy center located in the lower torso that is so power-full that it is associated with three acupuncture points Governing Vessel 4 (Gv4), Conception Vessel 4 (Cv4) and Conception Vessel 5 (Cv5). The Chinese admiration for the Ming-men is captured in the disagreement on how to describe it. It has been called the Gate of Power, Proclamation Gate, Gate of Destiny, and Gate of Life. No matter how you define it, the healing ability and energy properties of the Mingmen abound.
Why is it important and why should I know about the Ming Men?
Do you have trouble sleeping? Read on. Want more energy? Keep reading. Are you interested in the explosive chi energy of the internal martial arts? This article is for you. The idea of a “gate” occurs in all translations and is probably the most suitable. Whatever your health or martial goals are, accessing the Ming-men point is the place to start.
Many of us are familiar with the idea that martial and healing energy originate in the center of the body. We may also have heard the words Dan Tien or Hara to describe this region. This central area, the Sea of Chi, is often referred to as the Dan Tien when actually it describes the Dan Tien and Ming Men collectively. As mentioned in the post on the three dan-tiens, there is more than one energy center and when referred to in general terms, the word “dantien” is used to describe the whole central region.
I am going to take a different tack here, one that is only different to westerners but not to the East. Yes the Dan Tien and Ming Men can be talked about together. If a student is just beginning to wrap her mind around the idea that energy/power come from the center then this is a later discussion. However, independently the dantien and mingmen have different purposes and therefore different powers. Simply put, knowing about both regions allows us to benefit from and increase the power of both. I am confident in the intelligence of most practitioners and it is time for us to advance collectively.
Let’s start by finding it. Then we will describe why it is so important. We will end with simple practical ways to access the Ming Men and begin to reap its rewards.
For locating Gv4 you need to feel your lower back right in the center or most shallow point of the curve. It is located in the lower abdomen approximately two inches below the navel, and between the skin and the ventral surface of the spine.
That sounds like the DanTien!
Both the Ming Men and the Dan Tien come into existence at birth. They are both near the navel. The region can be accessed collectively to build energy or collect energy from other areas of the body.
|Located two inches below the navel in the center of the body.||Located two inches below the navel along the inside of the spine.|
|Represents post-natal energy||Represents pre-natal energy|
|Can act as a storage container to build up energy and send on to other meridian points||Can act as a gate to allow energy in or out, and to blend opposing energies that are being produced by the kidneys|
Why is the Ming Men Point Important?
I am going to dive into three rabbit holes here so bear with me. It will all be clear in a second.
Rabbit Hole #1: Physiology
The Ming Men is found (read- accessed, remember the gate thing?) at acupuncture point B23 smack dab between both kidneys. The kidneys are designed to filter and reprocess the blood. Blood is the transit system for toxins and minerals so anything good or bad that you do affects the blood. The kidneys effectively cleanse and rebalance the blood by staging toxins for waste elimination and sending the good stuff back into the veins.
Rabbit Hole #2: Chinese Medical Theory
In Chinese medical theory balance equals health. Each kidney is said to develop an opposing energy and it is between the two kidneys that these energies are blended. Not just any energy but the essence of energy. Think of it in terms of clay. The kidneys develop a pure, recently cleansed, pure source of energy that can be molded into any form of energy. The type of chi/energy that it becomes depends on your intention.
Rabbit Hole #3: Metaphysics
Every good rabbit hole/metaphysics reference necessitates an Alice In Wonderland pun but I am going to completely let you down here. When we get far out on the metaphysical ledge it is too easy to give up, think that we are not _______ (fill in the blank spiritual/connected/adept) enough to make tangible progress and just quit. However, you can reap tangible benefits from knowing about the ming-men and here is how. When we begin meditating or trying to concentrate we are plagued by a restless mind (Is it trash night?, my shoes are tight, I want coffee…). Placing one’s attention on the lower back stops extraneous thoughts – false yang. Metaphysically, the ming-men is the gate by which we enter no-thought and heighten our concentration.
How do I develop energy in the Ming Men?
The first steps in developing this energy consist of focusing ones intention. Mantak Chia in his book on the Microcosmic Orbit suggests taping something uncomfortable on acupuncture spots in the beginning to bring your mind to it. Eventually you can bring your mind to the ming-men without the tape and acorn. An additional way is to inhale into the belly while holding your abdominal muscles tight. Force the air into the small of the back and imagine it emitting from a small opening in the spine. I like this approach because this practice will eventually serve you when building the explosive power in fa-jin.
What are some practical uses of the Ming Men?
Who hasn’t heard of or craved work-life balance? This dichotomy is often misinterpreted as we are directed to take even more action to juggle our many obligations. I do believe that this illusive work-life balance is attainable but by doing less. Focusing on the center increases our enthusiasm for activities we enjoy, calms us in situations that are necessary but not necessarily enjoyable, and gives us a perspective to choose tasks that are actually important. The result is a net gain in energy. Try this: the next time you are commuting or caught in traffic think about pushing each breath down to your lower back. You will be refreshed, less stressed, and surprised when your exit comes so soon if you didn’t miss it entirely.
Creative individuals are balanced. Any experience that you have had where you are highly creative it is probable that you are outside of your own thoughts and drawing/writing/strumming without relationship to time or place. The ming-men drains the brain and stops it from running interference.
The ming men point is the one-two punch for sleeplessness. When my daughter was little and unable to sleep I would splay my palm on the small of her back and sit and think about my own lower spine. It was minutes before she would spasm and I knew she was diving off into fairy land. It works on adults and yourself too. Lay on your back with both palms resting on your navel. Think about your ming-men. If a work or stressful thought pops up, drag it down your spine and out the ming men. Wake up! I’m almost done.
What are some practice applications for Tai Chi?
The primary use of the ming-men in Ch’i-kung and Martial Arts is to develop power and energy. Power originates in the kidneys and is transmitted throughout the body. This is true if you are building up energy to heal or storing energy in your lower back to strike (fa-jin).
Mobility of the lower back connects the upper body with your root or legs. One needs to be grounded so that a true assessment of the situation is possible.
Adapting to New Situations
This is both a theoretical and a physical idea. If you lower back is “soft” and responsive you can both transmit and receive blows by accessing the power of the legs. The next time you are pushed back and locked in your stance, ask yourself if you lower back is soft or locked up.
Knowledge of the ming-men quickens our progress in mental, physical, and internal development.
Seeing the central “Sea of Chi” as its two integral parts, the dan-tien and ming-men, allows us to more accurately focus on each area independently if we want to intentionally act (dan-tien) or build energy to heal, balance, ground ourselves, or develop chi (min-men).