On “The Tao Bums”, a Tao Chi Kung teacher going by the moniker of Ya Mu responded to the question “how do you properly drop your brain into the lower dan tien?” with these words:
You don’t. Give up the mental, reduce brain waves to near zero and put a gentle awareness in Dan Tian. Make every move, every action, every energetic prelude to “thought” come from or centered from this place of awareness.
This, from a guy who was once in a lab where they measured him going through states usually associated with sleep as he began his practice.
I agree that a relinquishment of the mental is involved, yet I am now turning on the experience of the senses as such; in particular, the sense of equalibrium, the sense of gravity, and the sense of place associated with muscles, joints, and ligaments (proprioception), along with the sense of the mind. One among many senses, the mind, and I feel better for having come to see that this is so.
As to the brain waves near zero: to the extent that the phenomena of the heart-mind that moves, that shifts, and that is a part of action in the absence of volition is a phenomena of trance, I hope that the discussion of trance may be relevant to a discussion of “how do you properly drop your brain into the lower dan tien”.
When I finally got around to talking about action in the absence of volition in my piece about Fuxi’s Poem (here), I realized that the zazen that gets up and walks around is somehow, at least for me, associated with a practice Gautama put forward in connection with the induction of the further meditative states:
[One] dwells, having suffused the first quarter [of the world] with friendliness, likewise the second, likewise the third, likewise the fourth; just so above, below, across; [one] dwells having suffused the whole world everywhere, in every way, with a mind of friendliness that is far-reaching, wide-spread, immeasurable, without enmity, without malevolence. [One] dwells having suffused the first quarter with a mind of compassion… sympathetic joy… equanimity that is far-reaching, wide-spread, immeasurable, without enmity, without malevolence.
(MN I 38, Pali Text Society volume I pg 48)
Gautama described the first of the further meditative states as “the excellence” of the heart’s release through compassion, the second as “the excellence” of the heart’s release through sympathetic joy, and the third as “the excellence” of the heart’s release through equanimity (the “excellence” of the heart’s release through friendliness he described as “the beautiful”)
The place and things is the practice of “shikantaza”, as Kobun Chino Otogawa once said, yet as he pointed out the range of the things that enter into the practice easily exceeds the boundaries of the senses (here, in the section “Shikantaza”).