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Taoist Meditation Lesson #7 Finding Heaven   Leave a comment

“The sage sees the universe without going out the door”

 

Small Heavenly Circle (Microcosmic Orbit) Meditation Part #1

Attaining Tao is to merge with the wonders of heaven. In the very first verse of the Tao Te Ching, Lao Tzu says, “The Tao that can be named is not the real Tao”. What he is saying is the greatest of all things is beyond words, and once we attempt to name it we have defined the indefinable, which obviously is not going to work.  So then, how do we merge with the undifferentiated source of all things? Simple, start by just letting go of your desire to be or do anything and focus your energy into heaven.

If you have read the six prior lessons on Taoist meditation basics and practices and if you have actually tried some of these techniques then it is time to expand your horizons. Be sure to read Tuning the Breath as well.

I hope by now you have had some success with staying “in the moment” and have learned to use some of these tools to dissolve your mind into your body. Learning to control your thoughts is the basic methodology to allow your energy to find a higher calling. In this article, I will give you a little piece of treasure, another tool for your meditation that will help you reach a higher state of consciousness.

Much has been written about the “Small Heavenly Circle” also known as the “Microcosmic Orbit” meditation; a simple Google search will give you over 5,000 results.  I will not attempt to re-invent the wheel here, (pun intended) but instead I will give you my method.  This method of meditation takes the practitioner on an inward journey along the superhighway of energy that predominates within the human body.  My method is a straightforward and simple way to start exploring the universe within.

On the inward journey, the first things we learned were to dissolve our thoughts and get in touch with our energy, something you are getting skilled at if you have been doing the lessons so far. Now I am going to explain how to circulate that energy within your body.

We start with a basic energy circuit that runs up and down the torso in a circular path just under the surface of the skin; this path is called the “Small Circle.”  The vessels and meridians in your body that carry the qi are usually along high conductivity tissue such as tendons  and sometimes muscles. The centerline of both the front and back of our torso is mostly tendons, and this is a good conductor for the qi to flow within.  Learning to follow this path is a major step to moving even deeper into your body, and will give you more insight into the universe within you. My method starts with identifying the two major pathways of energy (that connect into a circle) by defining 15 points along the way. Like planets in a galaxy, we will travel to each one, picking up provisions along the way.  As we get to know each “planet” we will gain an understanding of our inner workings, this is the “Sage seeing the universe with out going out the door”

The two main paths have many names and energy can be moved in a variety of ways. In this beginning technique, we are going to follow the natural flow of energy down the front and up the back. For now, just think of them as Yin and Yang.  The “Yang path” starts at the perineum and then the base of the spine, continues up and over the crown of the head, and ends at the pallet. The “Yin path” starts at the tip of the tongue and flows down the front of your body and ends at the perineum at the bottom of your torso. Technically the “Ren” channel ends at the ovarian palace but since the connecting “Tu” channel emerges at the perineum I start there. Again, there are many resources available online for your perusal. Here I want to give you my method of navigating this “orbit.”

First, let me name, locate, and describe each “planet” along the orbit. Since we have to start somewhere, I start from that place where you “see things” when you close your eyes, a place between the eyebrows that is sometimes called “the minds eye.”

There are many more than these 16 points (that are really bigger than “points” that is why I think of them as “planets“) but I like to keep things simple. Picking these 16 allows us to be clear about each one and later we will apply a breathing technique to help propel your “spaceship” to each “planet”.   As your awareness grows you will feel and communicate with many more places than I have put on this list.  For example, between numbers  8, 9 &10 there are 2 others, the anus for instance, which is actually 6  in itself, front, back, each side, the center and the outer muscle!

My list of 16 celestial destinations within:

Classic texts would have you start at the Dan Tian and “contemplate your navel” for “as long as it takes to feel the qi there“.  I will not refute this method but there are alternatives. While this skill is admirable, I think we get the point; moving on from there, I believe spending a few minutes at each point is a better way to learn this orbit. Of course take as long as you want to explore each world, again the “classics” say to spend as long as a couple of months on each point until you can send your awareness and feel your qi there.

Once you have “opened the channel”, you will notice the qi moves rather quickly around the orbit. I usually do not need to linger long at each place at this point in my training and because I am not writing a book here, think of this as a quick tour through the planets,

The Mind’s Eye (behind your forehead)
The Heavenly Pool (where the tongue touches the pallet)
The Throat, (thyroid gland)
Thymus gland
The Heart
The Solar Plexus
The Dan Tian (just one inch below the navel)
The Sperm (Ovarian) Palace (a hands width below the navel)
The Hui Yin (the perineum)
The Tip of the Tail Bone
The Gate of Life (on the spine opposite the Dan Tien)
The Kidneys and Adrenals (on the spine opposite the Solar Plexus)
The Shen Dao, Between the Shoulders (opposite the Heart)
The Da Zhui, at the C-7
The Jade Pillow (at the base of the skull)
The Bai Hui or Crown Point (at the top of the head)

My planetary journey starts where I already am…

Sit and tune the breath,

Bring your awareness to,

1.    The Minds Eye (behind your forehead); Starting where your mind is already is a good place to start. When you close your eyes, you will “see” or rather “observe” energy actively moving about. Then just let the awareness sink down trough the Yin Path….

2.    The Heavenly Pool (where the tongue touches the pallet); When I put my awareness here I feel saliva welling up from the bottom of my mouth and pooling around the base of my tongue encouraging me to swallow.

3.    The Throat; This spot sends the flow downward along the yin channel. Here lies the thyroid gland a tiny little gland that controls the rates of regeneration for your entire body.

4.   The Thymus gland is a very sensitive gland that is an emotional regulator, sensing the heart and breathing rates, etc.

5.     The Heart; When my mind travels here I feel my heart moving a little bit, not so much an increase in speed, but sort of a warm gentle thumping.

6.    The Solar Plexus; This is a major nerve gathering center in your chest, at this location I feel a lump that seems to radiate out in all directions.

7.    The (Lower) Dan Tian (one inch below the navel); This is the home planet for your Qi. When qi gets stuck in your head (Upper Dan tian) it can cause rampant thinking, when the qi is at your Thymus or Solar Plexus, (in the middle Dan tian), you might feel emotional, but when the qi is here it will feel at home. After my first few years of practice, I began to feel a rotational sensation here.

8.    The Sperm (Ovarian) Palace (a hands width below the navel); This space is connected to all of your glandular systems and placing my mind here, brings me a sense of being connected internally.

9.    The Hui Yin (the perineum); When here, I feel a pulsing feeling as though there is a warm current flowing through my perineum moving towards the back of my body. This is the bottom of the torso and it is full of muscles that support the pelvic floor. The Hui Yin is sort of the launching pad for the next part of the orbit, the Yang path.

To keep things simple just do this for now…

First Tune your Breath and then just work on putting your awareness on each spot until you notice it; just like when you were using your hands; remember, “listening” for the tingling sensation there? If not re-read the other lessons. The point is, if you can send the energy to your hands it is a logical step to move to these orbit spots here. Just do this a little bit and see if you can feel the flow of energy coming down from your head to your perineum.

In the next lesson, I will lead you through the rest of the orbit.

Soon you will see that Taoist meditation and internal qigong are similar. You are now starting to learn the fine art of “Nei Gong” or “internal qigong”

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Tranquility   3 comments

 

Tranquility

 

Tao gives and gives and yet it is never exhausted, it wants for nothing as it is always giving. All things return to the source; the more they give the more they receive.

I drink from the mother’s breast, connected with the one source. The mother’s milk nourishes me and I shall want not for things of this world. I am not my mind, or my body or my emotions…. I am spirit.

I am the eye of the hurricane, a still point within the vortex of the matrix. The world blows by as everyone scurries about, but I alone am unmoved by mundane things. I want nothing from anyone but to be left in peace.

Sometimes I’m ahead and then sometimes I’m behind, and yet it matters not. My life is not for others, I am the flame, I cannot be burnt.  I have died the little death…. The past is irrelevant, the future does not exist… my spirit lives now and that is all that matters.

Posted October 21, 2010 by The Maui Taoist in Tao, Uncategorized

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Devotion to Spirit   3 comments

 

Zhong Xue Chao, (Bing), is a Taoist monk and grew up training on Wudang Mountain. He is the purveyor of wudangdao.com, and he exemplifies the essence of Tao

Devotion to training is its own reward.  Making love to the energy that sustains you nurtures your soul.  Embracing the feeling that moves us is simple. Why would anyone not keep training; I am not sure I could relate to that?

Master Dong was just here, and I spent 18 hours with him over a weekend, that week I also had 11 classes and spent an additional few hours training on my own….the result of over 30 hours of Taiji and Qigong training in one week?  I want more!

I just added two new weekly classes (soon to be announced) and I am doing a series of Qigong seminars with Kaiser October 14th, 21st and 28th.  I also have renewed energy for my personal training showing up one hour early to all my regular classes to train on some new and some old forms.  Therefore, I will be stepping up my training to about thirty hours every week.  My point is this, the more you feel your Qi the more it will provide for you that which you know in your heart is the best thing for you.

Once you learn the secret of the energy, that being the fact that YOU are made of energy, know that, cultivate that, and fully embrace that concept, your life will completely change.  What you thought “life” was will be redefined.  Life is Energy! It lives in you, you control this energy, and it will heal you from within if you let it.

Have you ever noticed how much energy you have when you feel inspired, like if you fall in love…? You can clean house, go to work, and never get tired? Energy comes to you from a mysterious place, we have all have had these feelings…..Would you be “depressed” if you won the lottery?  Would you be “bored” if you had a million dollars in your pocket?

The winning lottery ticket is as simple as devotion to Qigong training.

Taoist Meditation Lesson #6 (Practice Part 3)   3 comments

 

Orion Nebula, the energy of the universe

“The truth will set you free, but first it will make you miserable.”

In this third article on this subject I suggest you re-read the other three to provide a segue into this one and so, if you have been following along with all the meditation lessons, this would be the sixth one so far.

Now if you will just close your eyes… right now just for a few seconds…

Tell me, what did you see? Try again and do it for a little longer.

Since you cannot tell me, let me guess, you see little flickers of light, sort of like when the TV is between stations, or swirling fluid like colors as in a gaseous star cloud in space. Am I right?  Well, what you are really seeing is your energy, the energy of the universe that has been embedded in you. If I were a religious man, I would say, “That’s God talking to you”.

Now try this experiment again, this time keep your eyes closed longer, say, for a minute. Now what did you see? I hope that you saw more of the same, but most likely, some image made itself manifest there in your mind’s eye, or you were caught up in a daydream. That was your mind talking to you.

In our practice up until now, we have been talking a lot about dissolving your mind into your body, so you can dissolve your body into energy and thus send the energy deeper into your center where it can strengthen your spirit. The methods I showed you in the last lesson were about moving in that direction, remember we started with the hands and I said you could also use an image of yourself, something called the “energy body” this is a tool to help you learn to stay in the “now moment”.

When you are using the mind in this way, learning to stay in the now, there is a short length of time spent moving your energy inward. Somewhere between a few seconds and ten minutes, you are switching modes of energy application.  Inevitably, thoughts will arise, this is expected and is very normal, but if you have read the prior lessons, you know that these are illusions. Just take a step back, mentally, and see that for what it is and go back to the most important thing there is …little flickers of light, sort of like when the TV is between stations, or swirling fluid like colors as in a gaseous star cloud in space…. Your energy.

Your goal, if you need one, is to just sit quietly and stay with your energy. Go back to the hands and the body if you need too, or look through the illusions as though they are like a digital image that you can zoom in on until they are pixilated and so dissolved back into the energy from which they came from.

Step back from “images” of any kind, as soon as your mind forms an “Image” you are being taken away from your energy. In time, and with discernment, you will see the truth about what your mind is trying to do to you, but you will conquer it and take control of your life. You may see some upsetting things about yourself, listen, learn, but don’t get caught up in them.  Just go back to the energy as if you found yourself watching an old movie that you decide not to watch and just change the channel back to your new favorite one…energy.

There is nothing that can compare to the blissful feeling of staying free from those thoughts and images. The energy itself is a compelling show to follow; there is no greater image or thought in the entire universe as unadulterated energy. By allowing your mind to escape from all the illusions that have been fooling you for so long, you will find the truth, the truth that You are Energy.

In time, the truth will set you free.

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Earth Day   7 comments

We cannot "save the planet"

Did you know?

The earth has survived volcanoes, ice ages, earthquakes, floods, erosion, plate tectonics, collisions with asteroids, gamma ray bursts, and who knows whatever for billions of years; always surviving, evolving and adapting.

Did you also know that in China in 1931 between one and 2.5 million people died in a flood?
Or that also in China in 1887 between 900,000 and 2 million people died in a flood.
In addition, in 1556, an earthquake killed 830,000 in China.
And another earth quake in China in 1976 left 242,419 people dead? And in 1920, 243,117?
How about the earthquake-generated tsunami in Indonesia, 230,000 lives lost.
And the death toll in Haiti is estimated at 230,000?

The eruption of the Volcano in Iceland puts more CO2 into the air in one day than the entire population of Europe did in the last 100 years.  And did you know that CO2 is a scant 0.033% of the atmosphere; and it is the only source of life for all the green plants on the Earth?

Did you also know 250 million people each year get malaria resulting in between one to 2.7 million deaths? In addition, did you know that environmentalists, through the EPA banned DDT, and yet DDT was heralded as having saved over 500 million lives in the two decades before it was banned?

The bottom line is: we cannot “save the planet” and conversely we cannot destroy the planet. Are we so arrogant that we think we can destroy the planet when we are only a minuscule drop in an ocean of planetary history?  Everything here is from here….whatever we dig up, or burn or eat or whatever, came from here and it is going to stay here. The planet will adapt and evolve. We may not adapt however, and so life goes on. The planet will be fine.

Yin/Yang, Taoist thought understands these things, sure, we all want a clean environment, and we also don’t want millions to die from malaria or perish in cheaply made lightweight vehicles.  Nature always works things out.  If we are not meant to survive then, we will not. Perhaps we need war and disease to teach us what to do, or what not to do. These things are all part of nature, even our strange lifestyle is part of nature, as are we. There are those people that will not eat meat and consider it wrong for people to eat meat, do they protest the tiger, fighting extinction, and begrudge him his last meal?

Heaven and Earth are eternal, our physical selves, not so much. The Human experience for an individual is all we have here and now. Do not fret or worry about mother Earth, she will survive. Our only challenge is to deal with each moment correctly, enjoy what we have and let nature take its course.

If we are going to live full and joyous lives, we need to live in harmony with the way things are, adapt and overcome. To change with change is the way of nature; to be discontent is the greatest misfortune.

Happy Earth Day

Qigong Attitude   3 comments

First, gain an understanding of your energy system.
Align the body correctly to facilitate energy flow.
Relax the muscles to encourage energy flow.
Learn to dissolve your mind and body together.

Develop an emotional connection to the energy within.
Become intimate with your energy.
Practice until you know what is right in your heart.
Let go of your silly ego needs.

Gain freedom from your thoughts,
Become as open as Heaven,
Be as firm as the Earth,
Shine brightly like a star,
Be as flexible as water,
Gain inspiration from all things,
Know the truth that will set you free.

There are many paths to freedom yet only those who learn the truth will be truly free.  The real you is often hidden behind layers of physical and egocentric defenses.  Physical obstructions, thinking, and emotions, all inhibit your true self from shining through.

Spiritual qigong? Medical qigong? Martial qigong? Meditation? Internal, external, standing, sitting, moving, stillness, Taiji, whatever…. It makes very little difference; they are essentially the same thing. Don’t get confused by esoteric teachings. Do not be distracted from the truth by thinking too much about it.

Do not make your journey complicated; just follow the simple methods outlined in your training.  Adding too much just takes you farther away from the truth.  Practice “Wu Wei“; practice with diligence, yet keep it simple and you will gain profound awareness.

The truth is simple:
Love your energy as though it was the most valuable substance in the universe….in time you will discover the creator of all things.

Go to Qigong on Maui web site

Know the Workings of Heaven   6 comments

Galaxy M-81

The sage sees the universe without looking out his window
The sage understands the workings of the universe without going out the door.

He does this by knowing that universe that lives within him, and that he is a microcosm made from Heaven and Earth, created by celestial design.

Little did you realize that all the wonders of the “modern science” of astrophysics reside within you…Like a pulsar within a nebula, our spiritual star powers layers of energy that radiate out into our personal world and merge into the universe around us!

Our star of spiritual energy, contained within our nebulous body floats in a galaxy of others within our communities.  The collections of community galaxies live within a universe we call “life on earth”

Cultivate your energy. Refresh your star center with the flux of the universe that flows to you. Shine brightly, replenish your body and let the light of heaven shine out through you.