Practicing tai chi, meditating, doing qi gong, trying to heal, or trying to improve your strength seem like very different activities with very different goals. However, at their root they are all designed to move us from our current state into a new state. This can be from foggy to clear thinking, from injured to mobile, or from anxious to calm. Where does the energy to begin and sustain these transformations come from? The change is based in the improving, cleaning, and repair of tissue. For the meditation or intellectual goals, it’s dependent on clean and clear blood flow to the head. The organs and systems needed for change are located in an area of the body that Chinese medicine calls the ming men.
The ming men is an energy center located in the lower torso centered between the kidneys. It is so important to health and martial ability that it is called the Gate of Power, Center of Vitality, Gate of Destiny, and Gate of Life. It is associated with three acupuncture points: Governing Vessel 4 (Gv4), Conception Vessel 4 (Cv4) and Conception Vessel 5 (Cv5).
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, learning about and accessing the ming men point is the place to start.
Pro-tip: Learning about acupressure and meridian points can benefit your practice and can best be absorbed through continual learning on the topic over a period of time. Check out books and resources on Amazon that help expand your understanding and knowledge.
What is the Ming Men?
To get the benefit out of learning about the ming men we have to start with the difficult part of the conversation because the ming men isn’t an exact place but is more of a region of the body. Think of it as a collective area that includes the organs that act as filters, the blood vessels that act as highways for fresh fuel and the transportation of waste, the surrounding tissue that warms and tonifies the organs when pushed on, the inner spine that stabilizes the region, and the dantian or “lower energy center” that is right in front of it.
When this region is functioning well, it works like a happy city on a sunny day with traffic moving in all directions. When it isn’t functioning well, it is the same city with traffic jams and toxic congestion. Hopefully I have successfully painted a picture that is more like an ecosystem than an exact place but we can move away from metaphors to understand why this region is so important. If you blood is dirty, dehydrated and sticky from bad food or poor organ function, if you have not gone to the bathroom regularly and your organs are squished from the pressure of full intestines, if a weak lower back inhibits movement, how healthy, strong, happy, or clearly thinking can you be? There is definitely a lot to learn from the philosophy and esoteric explanation of the ming men. On the other hand, it just makes good sense to prioritize this area of the body since it is in charge of so much repair and waste removal.
Meaning of the Word Ming Men
In Chinese, all translations of the word “ming men” give us a sense of grandeur. The character ming (命) means life, command, fate, or order. The character men (門) means gateway or door but I also like that the character is used in part to describe and put order to science taxonomies (门). So put together, ming men (命門) unites two powerful characters to mean “gate/door – of/to – destiny/life/power.” Put together and we get: Gate of Power, Center of Vitality, Gate of Destiny, or Gate of Life.
Where is the Ming Men Located?
The ming men is located on the inside of the spine in front of the second and third lumbar vertebrae. It lies in the center of the body right between the two kidneys and is really easy to visualize if you think of where the two blood vessels branch off from the kidneys to join the massive inferior vena cava and abdominal aorta kidneys which supply blood to the organs and lower extremities. The ming men is a central intersection of several meridian highways running through the body. Right is front of the ming men is the dantian which is the lower energy center of the body. Collectively the dantian and the ming men are referred to as “the sea of chi.”
Similarities between the ming men and dantian
Both the ming men and dantian 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.
Differences between the ming men and dantian
|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|
You can find your ming men by placing your fingers on the base of your spine and counting up two vertebrae with your thumb, you will be at the right height and just outside of the ming men. Mentally move inside your body to a position that is centered between the point on your back and your belly button, right in front of your spine.
Is the ming men an acupuncture point?
There is an acupuncture point also called Ming Men which is point 4 on the Governing Channel. (The Governing Channel is a highway of acupuncture points that runs along the back and you can read more about it here: Acupuncture Points of the Governing Vessel). However, this point should not be confused with being the entire ming men. Think of it more as the access point to tonify the energy and function of the region. It is important to know about this acupuncture point if you meditate because it is the point that you concentrate on to stim It is also the point that you concentrate on when meditating to stimulate the raw energy from the body and absorb energy from the environment.
Why is the Ming Men Important?
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 dantian or hara to describe this region. This central area, the Sea of Chi, is often referred to as the dantian when actually it describes the dantian and ming men collectively. As mentioned in the post on the three dantians, 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 dantian 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 dantian and ming men 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.
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 using the ming men in tai chi?
The primary use of the ming men in qi gong and any martial art 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). This transmission of strength requires a connection of all the connective tissues muscle, fascia, and alignment of bone. The center of this connection is the ming men and dantian. When your posture is correct, energy and movement can be properly transmitted outwards. Think of it like spider sitting in the center of a perfectly woven web that can transmit energy in an direction from the center.
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 dantian and ming men, allows us to more accurately focus on each area independently if we want to intentionally build energy to heal, balance, ground ourselves, or develop chi.
Further Reading: Find out how the Ming Men is connected to the body’s energy system and acupuncture system by learning about the series of points that run up the front of the torso (Conception Vessel) and down the back (Governing Vessel).
Tai Chi Basics is a participant in affiliate advertising programs like Amazon designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees and cover expenses.
21 thoughts on “Ming Men – Acupressure point with powerful implications”
Super! This is something I can apply to my practice. Thanks!
Thank you Daniel, I think that a tangible discussion about acupressure points is much needed. I am thinking about a series of articles that discuss the easier-to-discover points in layman’s terms.
Excellent Article! I have chronic issues with this point of my lower back and a friend directed me to this page. This seems like a very comprehensive description of the Ming-men which I had never heard differentiated from the Dan-tien. Thank you for your lucid explanation.
Thank you, I have been working to study each of the main meridian points from a qi gong perspective but am blown away by how much import they have for mobility and physical health. I hope to write one article per point as I grow to understand it. I believe their is a lot of information out there “about” the points but not a lot has been shared about function.
If you have lower back issues you may want to investigate how Chen Tai Chi thinks about stretching. Basically, it is 180 degrees different than western stretching. Rather than locking a joint and pulling across a muscle (think hurdlers stretch or an armbar triceps stretch), they free the joint and work the muscles on either side of the joint.
Here is a link to Chen stretching exercises on the Austin Chen Taichi page. Chen Taichi Warm-up Exercises (As taught by Chen Youze) – http://austinchentaichi.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/05/Chen-Taichi-Warm-up-exercises.pdf
Excellent article linking ming men to acupuncture points.
hi sprat. hope I’m not too late for comment here-cos it is 2015,april…BRILLIANT info,thank you! BUT I am recently very much in moxibustion and looking some more info how often and how long I can use moxa on Ming Men (and Dan Tien,as you said)and so on…
My experience with moxabustion is not that extensive but I can share what I do know. I looked into this for you and can’t find anything suggesting a limitation of using moxa. By your comment I don’t know your specific purpose for using moxa but bringing intention (heat) to an acupuncture point can open it or cause it to function better. Mental intention to the spot, meditation that travels past the spot, massage, acupuncture, and heat herbs such as balms or moxa are all intending to bring this focus to a meridian point. We do it in the western world with BenGay, whirl pools, and heating pads for example so it is not dangerous. However, you should feel a diminishing of the symptoms that you are trying to address. If not, like in the west, you go back to the doctor/acupuncturist, to get new instructions to improve.
The one difference is if you don’t have an ailment and are trying to improve the sensitivity of meridian points in meditation. For example, when beginning to learn the microcosmic orbit it takes 2-4 months to travel the full cycle internally. For new persons reading this, you are basically trying to move a feeling up your spine, over your head, and down your front. When you begin you get stuck at “gates” that are closed or you don’t feel anything. You have to focus on this point, sometimes for a couple weeks, before moving on again. Check out this picture as to what I mean by getting stuck at certain points. I suppose you can use Moxa to bring intention to this place. I know that some people tape acorns on them so that they can focus there.
THANKS A LOT. Brilliant. I wonder if I add some more about what and why I turned to moxabustion ,would be appropriate.Though I had some education in UK in holistic nutrition my English is not my mother language so apologies for some funny writing and mistakes.
Well,for more than 15 years I`ve been fan and partial follower of Master Mantak Chia`s tao practices. Partial,cos not promt and methodical,and regular as I think I should have been…Microscopic Orbit- yes,practice with out any real feeling or results, cultivating the sexsual energy-yes, with staying on the basic -pressing Bai Hwei in order to preserve the semen-[I am heterosexual and sexualy active-though 60 over and physicaly very active,too-live in the mountains,jogging,yoga,building my house by myself ,gardening et.ctr.]To Moxa I turn cos Prostate problem I develope that cannot sort out….I have some other health probs for years, but I am in charge-Fastin,Proper Nutrition–but this one,I couldnt manage.
Thats how it is with me-and the Orbit,and the TAO practices ,and Prostate problem….In the moment I am with catheter[if you know hat I mean]but again in adapt sort of control…I dont believe in alopatic medicine-only in emegency and broken parts they can be used for…Sorry for this long story of mine,I am writing with the idea that may be you would be kind to share some vision in this direction. I BELIEVE deeply in Chineese traditions and Medicine-the Question is HOW TO FIND THE RIGHT APPROACH FOR MYself….
I have been thinking on your post omanand9 and I am sure you have researched these topics well but wanted to mention some things in case you haven’t considered them yet. Chinese medicine can consider prostrate problems as secondary to Kidney Qi problems. I like car metaphors and it would be like seeing smoke coming from a muffler and replacing the muffler when the problem is in the engine. The muffler looks like the problem because it is showing the symptom. There are may treatments and qi gong sets intended to improve Kidney Qi. The Kidneys are very unusual because they are purported to produce, store, divide, and use energy. Here is an explanation borrowed from: http://www.masterteresa.com/Content/kidney-qi-gong.html
“After we are born, the Kidneys store our essence energy which is an important source of Qi in our body. Kidneys govern water metabolism, reproduction, secretions and some brain functions. The Kidneys are responsible for growth and development. The Kidneys produce marrow, dominate bones, and manufacture blood. The kidneys open into the ears and the health of the kidney reflects the conditions of our hair.”
Try a search for “qi gong prostate” but also look into Kidney Qi and Kidney treatments if your research hasn’t taken you in that direction yet.
Big Thank You . Much obliged for the caring consideration and helpful directions. I will do my research as you suggested and will strengthen my practice in Microscopic orbit and Eight Pieces of Brocade!
Should I sedate or tonify my ming men fire point
Hello Radhasree dey and thank you for your question. Sedation and Tonification are terms pulled from acupuncture and there is a lot of debate about whether a needle should be used in a point to provide (tonify) or release (sedate) energy. It gets extremely more complicated because I think that the needle is turned either left or right to accomplish this, quickly or slowly, is opposite for men and women, and it also depends on if the treatment is morning or afternoon. I am not an acupuncturist so my knowledge in that area is limited.
What is more interesting is the second part of your question: “my” ming men fire point. This brings us back to working on ourselves through qi gong, meditation, and acupressure and I believe we can set the acuPUNCTURE aside and still benefit greatly. Here’s why:
Energy points tend to be homeostatic meaning that if the energy is low then the Qi flows in, and if the energy is high, Qi leaves. Our job is to increase our intention/attention on this point and allow our body to determine its own needs. I feel that it is aptly named “the gate” to deliver this metaphor concretely.
Well done article and thanks for sharing your knowledge on this topic Sprath.
I’m curious what do you think whats the connection between the Healing practicing (like Reiki or Pranic healing) and Ming-men?
Thank you for your comment. I would be speaking out of turn if I commented on Reiki and Prana so I invite anyone who follows them as their central discipline to comment. I interact with Yoga and Reiki practitioners and can offer my thoughts. I think that people find their way to an art that is comfortable to them but that central tenets are shared among all of the healing arts. What unifies the eastern arts and differentiates them from the western is this: eastern arts work to build health/healing as a whole and then the body takes that healthy state/energy and applies it to areas of the body or system that is ill or injured. Western conversely addresses the injury directly and tries to heal it with external medicines or practices that might not take the whole system into account. Both are needed in modern times. I am not being opinionated here.
So applying this to your question with the mingmen, Easterners see it as a gate. If a person’s “condition” meant that he had too much energy, too little, too weak, too dirty, etc, the ming men would allow energy to enter or leave to create a neutral state. With direct access to the kidneys it could help boost the kidneys’ filtering function. Reiki and Pranic practices both deal with energy manipulation and I would that the ming men would help these new-clean energies (via breath or vibration) to get to where the body needs them to go.
My two cents, S.
First, Sprath – great article 🙂 thank you.
Regarding reiki – I had never quite thought about it in terms of Ming men/Dan tien, but after reading this, I’ll share my experience. When giving a reiki treatment, I ‘breathe’ the energy from above the head, through the center of the body and to my belly. I’d say, now, that it’s entering the dantien through ming men, if that makes sense. Next, I ‘exhale’ from the dantien, and the reiki move through my body, and out of my hand to the client….both functions of ‘outside’ energy entering the body, as well as the sending of energy outward, are employed. Also, the more I have been practicing reiki, the more I feel that, although pc8 is a good point to move QI to a specific area, when exhaling from dantien, the reiki actually is moving in all directions…in other words, you can provide a good amount of reiki healing simply from the dantien! Truly wonderful stuff 🙂
This is a great response. I had only been thinking about the use of specific points for moving, manipulating, and storing energy for one’s own health and healing. Applying healing to others takes the idea of “gate” to a whole new level and gives us a lot to think about. Thank you for the contribution. I have been thinking about the next point up the back (Chi Chung T11) and am thinking about writing on our adrenal system. This is motivating.
Hi. I arrived at this site because of 1) ascension in over-drive 2) kundalini pain literally killing my back, I at times can’t even walk 3) tired/depressed/overwhelmed and the list goes on.
I started feeling out this point remembering/reading it was used for allowing patients dying to pass over freely. For myself, I realized it was a huge release point and stabilizes the body so very well. So thank you for this information supplied.
I am happy that this helped. You used the word kundalini so I am guessing that you may have Yoga(ish) experience. I don’t know what hey say about the purpose of the kidneys and why they are important in meditation and health. But the qi gong / tai chi / Chinese crowd see the kidneys as highly important both for building and cleaning body processes. I would suggest that you read in that direction. It seems as though you are sensitive enough and can focus on the ming men well. It is right between the kidneys. If you can understand what they do and visualize the cleaning/flowing between the two organs the center it can help out. I am not being metaphysical here. Learn what you can anatomically so you can picture what is going on in this part of your body. It can be very therapeutic.
Thank you, very good information to have and practical. It is effective for stopping thoughts. I taped a flower with a bandaid over that point to help focus there. I’m grateful to you.
Interesting. I had always thought about the different things being taped to spots to bring the attention there. I never thought about attaching something like a flower to align certain energies with that spot. Neat idea.
Comments are closed.