Hara

 

In many forms of martial arts and yoga, the hara (tan t’ien) is emphasized as the physical center of gravity, the source of energy and/or the center of intake and distribution of energy throughout the body(ies), and the center/initiator of movements.

My experience of the hara is that it (the abdominal region) warms up during tai chi, chi gong, Zen practice, yoga and also Breema. This warmth or heat seems to distribute and nourish throughout the body, and gives a sense of comfort, fullness and being at home. I also notice the ease and flow of movements when they “come from” the hara, in any movement practice.

In reading about it, I also notice that it is sometimes equated with the third chakra (Manipura), sometimes the second (Svadhisthana), and sometimes both – covering the whole abdominal region.

It is usually described as located one or two inches below the navel, although sometimes also as the lower abdomen or the whole abdominal cavity (hara means belly in Japanese).

Different descriptions

It is interesting that there is no consensus on which chakra it corresponds with.

It may be another case of fluidity, in this case where the energy bodies may reconfigure to some extent according to frameworks and practices.

In some traditions, the hara (tan t’ien) may come into focus and be experienced as precisely located at a point below the navel – and this may either correspond with the second or third chakra. In other traditions, the hara emerges more as the lower abdomen or the whole abdominal region – including both second and third chakras.

In my case, the hara seems to include the abdominal region as a whole – and both second and third chakra.

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2 thoughts to “Hara”

  1. There is much confusion in relation to the lower chakra locations in western translation, much of which relates to a confusion at the heart / solar plexus (which appears to be separated into two chakras on many popular internet images of the chakra system) but this area at the heart/solar plexus is just one chakra. “Manipura“ is lower, in the belly area, and is not different from the Hara, it is the same thing. “Swadhisthana” is lower still, in the bladder area, and is different from the Hara. I believe the popular internet images, which have been replicated many times, are sadly causing much misguided practice. I hope these comments help, my best advice would be to follow your feelings and intuition rather than sticking rigidly to any image, search deeply with a clear mind and you will find what you are looking for.

  2. Thank you, Stuart. When it comes to the energy system, different traditions have different maps. And it’s a good example of the difference between the terrain (the energy system) and the map (our ideas about it). We perceive (and misperceive) and are interested in different aspects of the terrain, and we chose to divide it up according to tradition and our inclinations, so all of that leads to different maps.

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