Archive for the ‘Taoist Meditation’ Tag

Taiji on Maui’s Taoist Taiji Kung Fu Day Camp 2014   3 comments

Take your body where your spirit wants to go!

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Come and join us at the edge of the forest, upon a sacred mountain, for an amazing week of meditation, qigong, Taijiquan, and Kung Fu.
Taiji on Maui is offering a rare opportunity to immerse yourself in the Taiji way of life with someone that loves you. Join us and reconnect to your true self, learn and practice Taoist methods to better yourself and your life. Relax at a deep level, rejuvenate your spirit. Take time for reflection, gain clarity on your life path, find meaning beyond material concerns, connect with nature, heal, contemplate, grow.

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We will be at Giggle Hill (map) in Haiku from 7:30 AM until 5:30 PM for eight days, this is a beautiful park with lots of trees and wonderful grass. We take a relaxed pace with frequent breaks and enjoy ourselves. There is ample shade, tables and water available and there are great restaurants 5 minutes away in Haiku or Makawao.

Come for any or all of the camp. Anyone and everyone is welcome!
From Saturday March 29 through Saturday April 5, we will be going through my current curriculum. Many of you know some or all of these forms and especially if you do not (you need to start somewhere and beginners are welcome here!), we invite you to join us for eight days of practice and training. We know this is late notice, but change has a way of “changing” things… who knew. For whatever reason, at this time, Taiji on Maui decided to open up the inner workings of this lifestyle for all.

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Born out of the many workshops and camps I have attended, sponsored, loved, and always yearn for still; I have created a lifestyle that is like a perpetual Taiji camp. The lesson I have learned here is, there is nothing like total immersion and focused practice for maximum results. Additionally, for eight days every year, I dedicate myself to practicing in this totally immersed way. The difference now is, instead of attending a camp, or doing my usual sequestered practice, I am inviting anyone that wishes to learn to join me.

And so, if you have a few days between these dates, and want to know what it’s like to live like a like Taoist monk…

Come and join us for:

Sixty four hours of practice and training,
Eight days,
Eight hours each day
Eight different standing qigong forms
Six different Taiji & Kung Fu forms
Two meditations each day
One awesome week
Zero requirement to pay.

Taiji & Kung Fu forms:

Qigong Forms:

Sitting Qigong:

  • From Dong Zeng Chen and Tung Hu Ling
  • Sheng Zhen “Kwan Yin” 
  • Wudang San Feng

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Schedule:
All sessions will be at Giggle Hill (Fourth Marine Div. Park) in Haiku on Maui. I know it rains sometimes, but that will not stop me. There are shelters and there is always practice to do. The following schedule is a rough outline of the curriculum, for example, all the qigong forms will be rotated as appropriate. There is aways randomness in Tao! Where there is a specific focus to a session, I have listed such below but there will be a continuos opportunity to explore anything we wish to at any time … So it is all very Taoist.

Meditations are the first and last thing each day; the time may vary or include other activities. Practice and training sessions start at 8:30 AM and 1:30 PM with a two hour break. Each session starts with related qigong, then we progress to Taiji and Kung Fu. There will be exploration and explanation of applications and plenty of time for “push hands” practice. Saturday night, April 5th we are having a pot luck dinner at the park. We hope to see you there!
The times for all sessions are:

  • 7:30 to 8:30 Meditation
  • 8:30 to 11:30 Practice and Training
  • 11:30 to 1:30 Break for lunch
  • 1:30 to 4:30 Practice and Training
  • 4:30 to 5:30 Meditation

Starting March 29

  • Saturday: Wudang Long Form Taiji \\\ Wudang Tai Yi Kung Fu
  • Sunday: Hao Style \\\ Dong (Yang) Style Long Form
  • Monday: Yang Style Sword \\\ Dong Family (fast) Set
  • Tuesday: Dong Long Form \\\ Dong Family Set
  • Wednesday: Wudang Long Form \\\ Wudang Tai Yi
  • Thursday: Sword \\\ Hao Style
  • Friday: Qigong only \\\ Dong Long Form
  • Saturday: All forms \\\ All forms \\\ Ending Dinner

Copyright Cory Williams 2014

Understanding Qigong Class   3 comments

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Learn the fundamentals of Qigong

I will unlock the secrets of qigong for you; so you can see how (and why) you can move energy to any part of your body that you wish. With a full understanding of the basics of your internal energy system, you will have a solid foundation to understand Traditional Chinese Medicine, Taiji, Qigong, and Taoist meditation.

This class explains all about the art and science of Qigong. Once you know how your energy system works it all makes sense. For instance, we eat food and we breathe and we turn it into electricity that moves our muscles and our bones. This same system feeds energy to our brains, internal organs, bone marrow, skin and everything else, including our thoughts and our emotions. When the energy gets stuck or becomes stagnant, our health suffers, in Chinese medicine this is considered the cause of most health issues. In the western world, 75% of all doctors visits are for preventable illnesses. By combining scientific knowledge along with exercises and meditation, students can learn Taoist methods for ultimate health and longevity.

I will explain everything!… starting from the moment of conception…
how your qi system was formed in your body, and how you make qi, where and how you store it, and how to cultivate and conserve it.

I will show you many different Qigong techniques, for medical reasons, and spiritual practices as well as for strengthening your bodies. These exercises will bring your awareness to the sensations of actually feeling the qi move inside of you. Learning how to unlock stuck qi is an enlightening experience!

Some of the topics explored:

 

History
Wuji, skeletal alignment
Yiquan standing exercises
The three dantians
The eight extraordinary vessels
The twelve meridians
Tuning your breath
Five element theory
Microcosmic orbit
Embryonic breathing
Meditation methods
Nei gong internal qigong
Various breathing methods

There are many different types and styles of qigong exercises, both standing and sitting. I will explain the methods and applications, and be your coach.

I have never seen a class like this before on Maui and I thought it would be nice to pull away the veil that obscures some, if not all of the mysteries that lie “beyond the mysterious beyond.” With this knowledge students can train with anyone and know what is going on. Bring your knowledge up to the instructors level!

This class is on Thursdays at Kaunoa at 11:00 until 12:00
Call and sign up today 270-7308

This is Tao…   10 comments

The Lotus Flower is a symbol of compassion opening in the heart like the bloom of the flower from the swamp in which it grows

The desireless one sees the essence; (the soul)
While the desiring one sees only its manifestation. (the superficial)

Desirelessness is a matter of respectfulness.

Contemplate these statements, ponder them, meditate on them, and if you could have only one desire, make this be your goal:

Overcome your desires and show love to others.

What gift would you offer God? What does the creator of all things need with desires? Tao creates endlessly, it gives away everything it creates and wants for nothing. Is this not love? Wants, desires, expectations, wishful thinking, willfulness, these are all contrivances of ego. True love comes from a place of no desire.

Have you ever heard the expression he or she is “in love with love”? Ah yes, here is a nugget of truth for me. True love is not desire for a person or thing; it is given in the spirit of the thing itself. Wanting nothing for self, only the best for others is love. When two people are “in love with love” there is no desire per se’, there is a spirit of letting nature take its course.  When you feel “in love” the love is in you! If that involves another person or thing, then it is desireless towards that thing. When two spirits find each other, that love is beyond desire, that is a Taoist’s view of divine love.

Only when you feel no desire for something, can you truly love it. When the love for all things fills you, it is like a flower blooming inside your heart. As your energy rises up from the earth it opens your heart, it expands outward, filling the whole universe. Your compassion for all things will grow, your love will know no limits; you’ll prosper in all your ways.

The desireless one can discern the true, (soul) essence of things, not limited to only seeing and desiring that which essence has made manifest (superficially) in the material world.

You will learn the true meaning of love, you will gain respect for all things, you will move forward into an understanding of how everything is connected. This is love and fulfillment, this is infinite compassion, this is true understanding…
This is Tao

Copyright Cory Williams 2012

Taoist Breathing Lesson #1 Tuning the Breath   Leave a comment

Taoists use a skill called “Tu na” to tune their breath before doing qigong and meditation.  Natural Breathing  (Shun Hu Xi) is the best place to start.

Effective meditation and qigong both require good breathing skills; this lesson will give you a method that you can use every time you start your practice. This exercise takes about 5 or 6 minutes to learn, and after a few times you can tune up in about 2 minutes.

I should begin by saying to just breathe naturally, beware of complicated methods; they are not necessary and can even be harmful. In addition, know that generally Taoist breathing is subtle and you should not even hear yourself breathe. In this method make each inhalation and exhalation of equal duration and breathe in and out from your nose.

Like a fine musical instrument, no mater how well it is played, if you want to make beautiful music you need to tune it up first, until it is harmonious within itself it will not give quality results.

Begin by standing in Wuji Stance, now bring your arms just slightly around in front of you and allow them to hang with the hands in front of your thighs.  The first step in tuning the breath is to pay attention to each one of the points along the journey of the breath. Just like a guitar with six strings, a musician tunes one string and then the next in sequence tuning the instrument to a playable condition; I have identified six locations along the path of the breath to assist you in tuning your breath.

Once each location is dialed in we can follow the breath through each one sequentially as we breathe;  just like strumming the six strings of a guitar chord. Then we will feel the body resonate; the whole body vibrates just like the body of a guitar. This vibration will float the arms and pull the legs straight as we feel the energy rising with each inhalation.

First we start with the nose, and then continue down to the back of the throat just behind the tongue and then moving further down we come to the trachea. The next step down from there are the actual lungs and then the diaphragm and finally the dantian.

All I want you to do initially is to stand still and breathe in and out your nose. Pay attention to the air going in and out of the nose and you may notice the nostrils flaring and the hairs inside the nose moving back and forth and even whatever scents are in the air coming in. Just take a few breaths to get comfortable noticing that part of your breath path, just breathe in and out…

Next, bring your awareness to the back of the mouth where the tongue starts its descent into the throat. Feel the air cascading over the back of the tongue and epiglottis, it may feel just a little raspy as the air goes over this area. Another sensation you might feel is saliva welling up in the heavenly pool beneath the tongue. Just like before, take a few breaths with your awareness on this location until you can feel the breath there.

The next location on the journey from the nose to the dantian is the trachea. With each breath you will feel the windpipe expanding and you may even notice slight pressures on the thyroid gland as the trachea expands. Feel the air moving through the larynx and the windpipe expanding slightly as the air reaches the lungs.  Again, take a few breaths at this location until you are comfortably aware of these sensations.

Now you should feel the air entering the lungs and the top of the lungs expanding slightly.  As the air enters your lungs feel the sternum rise and the rib cage expand slightly, keep your awareness here for a few breaths and pay attention to these sensations.

As the lungs fill with air, bring your awareness down slightly lower to the diaphragm muscle at the solar plexus. If you pay attention here you can feel the diaphragm muscle descending upon each breath just as the air starts to enter the lungs. Keep your awareness at this location until you are sure you can feel the diaphragm muscle moving down and up with each breath.

Beneath the diaphragm, bring your awareness to the dantian, now you are in the abdominal cavity. Notice the pressure the descending diaphragm puts on the internal organs. This gentle massaging motion causes your abdomen to move out slightly. Just keep awareness at this location until you can feel the diaphragm pushing on the internal organs and notice that your belly rises and falls with each breath.

Your awareness of each part of the breath is in now enhanced and you are almost all tuned.  Like the individual strings of a guitar; one by one each area is in tune with the one next to it.  Now bring your awareness back to the nose, this time, follow each breath as it goes through the nose, past the tongue at the back of the throat and moves down the throat and trachea into the lungs. Notice how the diaphragm moves down and up and the dantian moves out and in with each breath.  Continue to follow the breath with your awareness as you do all of your various practices that follow.

Now that you have tuned each area and you have followed the path of the breath from top to bottom and from bottom to top you should notice a resonant frequency in your body.  Remember your hands lying just in front of your thighs, with the upper arms slightly against the side of your chest? With each breath and subsequent expansion of your abdomen your arms will rise approximately 1 inch away from the dantian.  Follow this rising feeling of each inhalation as you inhale and the chest expands, feel the chest rising and the hands floating upwards slightly. Simply let this rising feeling pull the legs slightly straight; remember you were standing in wuji stance with bent knees but now the expanding nature of the breath lifts the whole body up and the legs straighten slightly. When you exhale bend the legs slightly, just allow the hands and arms to float down from their elevated position as the air leaves your lungs and the rib cage returns back to its contracted position.

Each time you breathe you will feel the air come in the nose, past the throat, through the windpipe into the lungs the diaphragm moving downwards and the belly moving out and the hands and legs slowly rising as you fill with air.  Each time you exhale as the abdomen contracts and the arms descend, bend your knees slowly back to the beginning position.

Congratulations, you have tuned your breath and you are now doing basic qigong. All you need to do now is continue to pay attention to the tuning of the breath and let the body move in a rhythmic fashion.

I suggest you tune your breath while standing before doing seated qigong and meditation as well. It is much easier to feel the expanding contracting nature of the breath and body while standing. Once the system is tuned and playing along harmoniously with the body moving rhythmically you may commence doing any qigong form that you wish. Simply breathe slower or move the arms and legs faster to keep the timing consistent and with a little practice to be able to do all the qigong you want while keeping the breath tuned continuously.

Whether moving or still, all qigong and meditation practices are more effective by tuning the breath before you proceed; remember, just keep breathing steadily.

Copyright Cory Williams 2011

Next, try here: Qigong Lesson #1

Longevity Science   6 comments

The picture above shows the 100 Chinese characters for longevity. They are all the same character for longevity, but each one is written differently. A person in Beijing has spent over 40 years to collect the writing of the Chinese character for longevity. So far he has found over 15,000 ways to write the character for longevity. It is amazing that a Chinese character can be written in so many different ways artistically.

I was watching TV yesterday and there was a fascinating show on Discovery’s “Curiosity” about “could we live forever?” Now we all know that this has always been the holy grail of everything about life. Interestingly, this show was right after a documentary about Apple’s creator, Steve Jobs. In just the last few years of his life he came up with the I-phone, I-tunes and the I-pad, these inventions have touched hundreds of millions of people!  Mr.Jobs was undeniably one of the greatest geniuses of human history and yet for all his knowledge and vision he died at fifty-six years of age. Maybe there is a lesson here: what if he had been focused on longevity instead of computers and entertainment?  Perhaps a poignant observation that!

But I digress…. In the show about longevity, hosted by Mythbusters star Adam Savage, he undergoes a series of transformations as he ages and technology emerges at the same time: a very real possibility in this day and age.  One of the first things that happens is he gets connected to a machine that filters all of his blood and removes all the “old cells”. The premise being that as cells replicate they mutate and acquire changes and toxins. This yet to be invented machine takes out all the mutated and contaminated cells.

Years later his brain starts to shrink as is known to happen as we age.  Part of the problem is that his memory becomes full. In the show he gets an external memory device installed. But why do all that if he could just “delete” the old unneeded and harmful old junk that was clogging his brain? I could go on about all the things in this show but I’m just making a point here.

Everything about longevity science in this show has already been addressed by Taoists. All this “new technology” has roots in Taoist practice. The disappointing and truly sad thing about this show was its focus on “mechanical technology” and no mention of “human technology”.  It was all about “what if” and “someday” instead telling people the truth about what is known and available NOW.

Today, after a neighbor showed some curiosity in my qigong practice, I was showing her how I can flow blood to my hands using my mind, and explaining how qigong leads to a longer happier life, she just sort of nodded and walked away. “Funny”, I thought that some people can be shown the elixir and walk away.  As I was walking to my home I thought…What would someone give for one more second when they are at the end of their lives…? I understand some people are suffering and death seems welcome to them, but what if they were not in pain?

Pardon my incredulity for pondering these things, yet we can filter our blood and we can regenerate youthful cells in our body, and we can delete old files in our brain and learn new skills. It is possible to age gracefully and maybe even painlessly.  What then, what would you give for one more hour on this earth?  Or one more day, month, year or decade? We all know it could be over in an instant or life could go on for many years. The technology (qigong and meditation) exists today to improve the quality of our lives and isn’t that alone like living longer? That same technology helps to extend the length of our lives; Taoists know that human life should be at least one hundred years long.

When will the world at large see the light and learn qigong and meditation? Rebuild your life from the raw materials of Heaven and Earth. It is never too late to start, and the sooner you do the sooner you will be adding time to your life. What might Steve Jobs have produced if he had lived for another forty-four years? Maybe it’s a good thing some people don’t go on living too long, like killers, but surely we all would want enlightened people to live longer… oh that’s right, enlightened people do live longer!

Start now and never stop, practice everyday. Don’t be limited by a false belief that you cannot feel and look younger or live better and longer. Have a positive attitude and follow the Way.  Study the Way, there is a wealth of life-sustaining knowledge there. Walk the Way always and forever.  Recreate yourself!

The Ultimate   6 comments

Would you go?

What if you searched your whole life for something; what if you invested everyday and night, thousands of days, tens of thousands of hours, year after year in a quest towards a goal and when you finally did everything you were told and after years of waiting, and then, you found out, there was nothing?

What if someone suggested to you to dedicate your whole life, practice diligently and someday you would find nothing, and you knew that going into the journey; would you be interested in going then; doing all the practices, training endlessly and even though it was a blissful journey, only to find out that there was no end goal, would you still go?

What if you could grasp the concept that everything and nothing are made from the same thing…would you go then?

Tao unravels all the mysteries to truth, peace, contentedness and salvation and yet, in essence, there is nothing there. Everything is possible from nothing; nothing and everything define each other. The journey is all there is, the path to non-doing starts at doing.

Practice long and diligently, then you will find your qi….
Continued practice and dedication will guide you to your spirit…
Practice, practice and practice some more and eventually you will find nothing.

Jing, Qi, Shen is the Way to return to the source…Tao

The spirit dissolves into Tao, just as your practice dissolved your body into qi and then continued practice dissolved your qi into spirit…

A place where all things merge into nothing is waiting for you. After years of practice you will find the truth; eventually bringing you back to the source of all things.

 

Copyright 2011 Cory Williams

Taoist Meditation Lesson #8 Heavenly Sojourn   Leave a comment

Connecting the planets

Completing the Small Circle

In the previous lesson, I outlined the basic idea of the Small Circle or Microcosmic Orbit meditation.  Learning to connect your internal solar system will give you much insight into your internal energy. The last lesson leads you through a series of points in your energy system. The point was to bring qi down from the minds eye to the perineum at the bottom of the torso. This involves bringing your awareness to each point along the way for a sufficient length of time that you can feel it at each point before moving to the next one, Basically you were learning the “Yin path“, the downward, relaxing, nurturing and frankly the easy path of energy flow.

If you have become adept at this skill, you are ready to learn the other half of the process, bringing energy up the “Yang path”.  I hope that you noticed how the energy “wants” to flow down the yin path almost as if gravity were pulling it there and in a way, it is. Just to be real about it, there is a mechanical reason for this. By sequentially relaxing downward, your body is allowing blood and lymph as well as the flesh to sag and drain downward towards the earth. Keeping your back straight while this is happening aids the flow by assuring that all the necessary passageways remain open to that flow; slouching or having any misalignment or muscle tension will interfere with this process.

The yin path starts at the tip of the tongue and descends through the tongue, past the thyroid, thymus, heart, solar plexus, dantian, sperm (ovarian) palace, and ends at the perineum. Purists might know that the “Ren” channel ends, and the “Tu” channel starts at the ovarian palace, but the Tu channel “emerges” at the perineum and that is why I start there. These eight places are one-half of the microcosmic orbit, the other seven points are the topic of this article, the “Yang Path“.

In my method, the “Yang Path”  starts just under the skin at the perineum but it is at the coccyx or tailbone where it moves up to the “Ming Men”, gate of life  located just below where the thoracic spine joins with the lumbar spine. It then goes up along the tendons covering the spine, past the kidneys and adrenal glands. From there the path goes between the shoulders at the “Shen Dao”, the path to the spirit, opposite the heart center on the spine i.e.. the third thoracic vertebra near to the thoracic/cervical junction. The next place of wonderment is called “Da Zhui”, the great hammer. Da Zhui is about the C-7, the thoracic/cervical junction, on the spine opposite the throat. From this point, the qi moves upward, goes past the “Jade Pillow” at the top of the spine joining the skull and moves over the skull, up to the Crown Point, and then terminates at the palate just under the minds eye.

When you have completed the yin path and are completely relaxed and all the energy has drained into your hips and pelvis it will coalesce near the premium. You are now ready to bring qi up the spine and recycle the energy via the “Yang path”.

This is a new skill and it can be confusing depending on how you interpret what you are doing in the moment. Just to clarify that statement, some teachers will tell you to “pull the qi to the tail bone using your anus and collect it there“. I would say this too, but invariably pulling and pushing qi up the back channel is not the most effective way to do it, in my opinion. It does work, and you can get started doing it this way and yet if there was an easier way, you might want to try it.

Just tuning the breath and “listening” you may be able to sense the energy moving thought the small circle, that would be very nice indeed. Just sitting quietly and observing the energy flow is fantastic. I would say that is a high achievement. “Moving” qi through the circulation is controlling it. Both are valid and have different applications, for example I like to move qi through the body with my mind so that I can learn how to feel it moving when I’m not moving it!

Before any practice I recommend Tuning the Breath

I recommend that you start to access the back channel (yang path) by first starting at the Crown Point. Just lift up on the Crown Point and feel the head lifting off the shoulders and the spine lengthening and this will pull the tailbone into a vertical alignment, which also opens the pathway at the rear of the anus towards the back. Ah, see now the whole channel is open and now you can pull the energy to the anus and it will be sucked up the spine all the way to the top!  In the beginning, you may still need to coax it up by using your breath and muscle contractions, but as you get better at it, you can reduce the effort and concentration that you apply and spend more time enjoying the results. Each time the qi is at the bottom (Hui yin), open the crown, and allow the qi free access to the top.

From the bottom of the torso, pull up the PC Muscle (this muscle runs from the pubic bone to the tailbone) and you will feel a rush of energy there; this is a simple way of developing perineum power.  This is when you want to gently pull up around the anus and feel the energy go around the anal sphincter muscle to the rear of the anus. The energy is now at the tip of the tailbone. Learn to feel your internal musculature here and you can very gently contract the muscles there and actually create a wave of qi that will move up the sacrum to the lumbar spine and it will collect at the top of the lumbar region at a place known as the “Gate of Life”.

Bring qi up the Du Meridian

It may take a few tries to do this but keep at it and soon you will feel qi gathering at the Ming Men. You may need to rock your hips slightly to open the lower gate, this will help avoid stuck energy there.  Some say it is like “sipping through a straw” each time you take a breath the energy descends some being pulled back up on the next breath. By using a combination of first pulling the spine up from the top, and then going through a series of muscular contractions and breaths you can apply mental energy to move the qi up, up, and up…

Over time, you will feel the energy moving up through the kidneys, and the Shen Dao,  Da Zhui, through the jade pillow and up to the crown.  When you get used to bringing the energy to the Ming Men you will find it has enough inertia to just rather shoot up through the other points.  The yang path may flow fast as the qi rushes up to the top or, hopefully in a more controlled way. This can be a beautiful and rewarding release of energy that can thrill you when you feel it. Remain calm, and enjoy this energy release as you might enjoy a sexual energy release as it its related to that same feeling.  This is also do to the Chong Mai or thrusting vessel (that is another story) that runs deeper directly through the center of your spine.  Once you get used to these types of experiences you may never be the same again, you are gaining control over your energy.

I would not try to analyze this or focus on each individual point on the back channel at this point in your training. These skills can take awhile to acquire, and unless you have been doing this for some length of time, it may be meaningless for you to get too esoteric about it. It is not how much you know, or think you know about “meridians” and all that, what really matters is that you practice often and you keep it simple.

Many of these spine points can be blocked by accumulated postural  stress and may require qigong movements to open them, particularly prone to being blocked are the Shen Dao and Da Zhui. Come to class, or find a good teacher in your area for help with these two places. You do not want a blockage in “the path to the spirit”!

Even though you can now complete the circle, you are still just at the beginning of a new journey. Do not be in a rush, just work on these new skills for a while and get good at “circulating the microcosmic orbit”. You will find that as you get to know this skill you will be able to use this all the time, like when you are doing sitting or standing meditation or while doing moving soft qigong, or Taiji or even use this skill during sex. This is a start of a new level of qigong training, truly “going internal”.  While all forms of qigong training effect you internally, learning the small circle is the beginning of what we call “nei gong”. You are now moving into a higher level of meditation, where meditation and qigong come together and move your mind and body into the realm of pure energy, yet another step on the path of “Spiritual Alchemy”.

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Qigong Lesson #5 Harmonizing Yin and Yang   Leave a comment

This is Bruce Lee’s Jeet Kune Do Symbol                                          “Using no way as way” & “Having no limitation as limitation”. The arrows represent the endless interaction between yang and yin

The focus of the last qigong lesson was to introduce the properties of Yin and Yang in the human energy system as it pertains to Qigong practice.  One of the first things qigong students learn is the difference between the way yin and yang manifest during practice. This basic understanding is the starting point to getting to know your energy. Eventually this awareness of yin and yang will be discerned in all of your energy systems.

There are many different “energy systems” in the human being and all of them have yin and yang elements. For example in basic qigong practice the most obvious energy system in the physical body are things like muscles and bones; pneumatic (breath) and hydraulic (blood and lymph) but there are others such as mental, emotional, spiritual, electrical (nervous), and chemical, like hormones and neurotransmitters.

The reality of life is there are no absolutes; energies are always in ebb and flow.  In the last lesson I used a diagram showing the separation of yin and yang, this is only to get a basic understanding of the rise and fall of the energy; this symbol could be called Yin AND Yang. The Taiji symbol is sometimes called the Yin/Yang diagram. Do see the difference between the two? Yin and Yang or Yin/Yang, the difference is the first one defines yin and yang as distinctly different and separate things; the second one shows the harmony between the two.

In the title to my web site, I say “Balance and Harmony for a better life.” Balance and harmony is a common phrase; some people reverse the two words however saying “harmony and balance.”  To my mind though, you need balance before you can have harmony.  This is an important point for you to realize in your training as qigong and Taiji works on us to first balance our energy so that we can harmonize with reality. Again this is true whether we are talking about emotions or our bodies…. For example, if we have balanced emotions then we can harmonize with others.

Harmony is what we get when we have all our energy systems working together in a synergistic way. Synergy is a good word, it is when the sum is greater than the parts; you know, sort of like one plus one equals three.  Now while some of our energies may be “Yang” there will be others that will be “Yin.”  For example, my mind may be yin while my body is yang, while at the same time my legs may be yang while my arms may be yin and my emotions could be yin while my spirit is yang!

Yet it all works together in harmony. When the thinking mind is softened and yin, the spirit fills with energy and could be considered yang. When I am moving my body upward there is energy coming up from my legs which could be considered yang at that moment yet I keep my hands soft (with my mind) making them effectively yin. Yang leads and yin nurtures. For example my intention (yang) tells my body to relax (yin) the relaxed body attracts energy to flow into it, yang.  Lets say for example, the energy (in the form of blood pressure) is down in the legs, (yang) then, when we relax the hands (yin) the energy will flow into them, and back and forth filling and emptying.

While doing qigong notice how you can control the flow of energy when doing the movements by sequentially relaxing and expanding. As you are alternately flexing and relaxing different groups of muscles, you can lead the qi through your body. Remember, the energy wants to flow into emptiness just as electricity seeks a ground or water (and air) flows from high pressure towards low pressure.  In the great source book of Taoism, the Tao Te Ching, Lao Tzu tells us, “The sage leads by following, by putting himself beneath others they all flow towards him.”  Can you see how the philosophy of Taoism teaches us how to be better people?

Learning to be both yin and yang at the same time (yin/yang) is like bringing together the two halves of who you are. We all have yin and yang elements in play in every part of who we are. Proper qigong and Taiji is all about learning to first balance our energies and then to harmonize all these different energies so that we can find the reality that we need not be so polarized in life as to lose sight of the “big picture”

Like two horses…. The mare and the stallion, named yin and yang…
The stallion leads the way with the nurturing mare just behind him, giving him encouragement and moral support. She wants him to lead, and he enjoys doing the hard work of blazing the trail and such. The clever mare knows how to get him to lead where she wants to go by using her soft nurturing way, and he is glad to go where she wants him to. The two move in harmony due to the balance of their complementary energies.

Go to Qigong on Maui web site

Nothing means anything… You do not “know” anything…   3 comments

To be real we must get over our perceptions that we know things. Knowing, in a way is prejudice, when we think we know something we shut down our awareness and stop being open to the moment.

Who we are changes each moment… we exist as a being not just in a physical form but as an entity in time, the moment by moment perception of reality defines who we are.

As such “who we are” is always in flux if we are always sensitive to the changing circumstances. Whenever I am fixed in my perception of who I am, I forget to take every situation as is comes to me. For example if I perceive myself as a “teacher” then I will act out by trying to educate…..  If I perceive myself as being “helpful” then I will act out by thinking I am above a situation.

I often hear people say……”I help people”  but this in effect is coming from a place that says…..”I am better than the people that I perceive as needing help”

Or for example “I teach” … In reality, no one teaches anymore than the student’s capacity to learn…and so learning is a higher skill than teaching. In this regard the student only “learns” what he wants to from a given experience, the teacher only shows the student whatever the “teacher” thinks is important coming from the teachers perspective.

When a person thinks they are teaching they are putting what they do above the student who is actually doing the work of “learning”.  After all, it is the learning that is important, not the teaching.

Thinking that things “mean something” disrespects the spirit of the moment in that if we are always learning then we must be open to the possibility that maybe “it” means something else…..Every moment has different possibilities. Getting over our perception that somehow we “know“ the meaning of something is a way to finding harmony in a new reality of infinite possibility.

These concepts are a subtle learning we get from Taiji practice. Indeed, it is somewhat arrogant to always be so sure we know what something means.  When we are so sure we know something, we show our lack of understanding that “things are not always what they seem”.

The Nature of Love   4 comments

"Love"

Sensitivity, Understanding, Forgiveness, Compassion, Detachment, Liberation, Nurturance, Heaven

These are some thoughts about love from my Taoist perspective; that compassionate detachment is the highest virtue and discontentment the greatest misfortune and understanding that even “joy” is not always a good thing and that often “sadness” is. Finding a balance with our emotions keeps the qi balanced within our internal organs; indeed unchecked emotions lead to “stuck qi”, the root of most sicknesses.

Some say love is an emotion; I think not.  Emotions, largely, are calls to action, fear, anger, worry, sadness, loneliness, frustration, guilt; all these things are actually telling us what we need. To my mind, “love” is what I would call a “state of being,” the catalyst that facilitates our understanding of our emotions. My previous post about the nature of evil tries to explain how unchecked negative emotions tend to escalate, culminating into a state of being I call “evil”. I did not get this from any book or anything, these are just my personal opinions based on my observations.

Love then, would be the opposite of evil, in that when we respond to emotions in a positive way we move in that direction.  This love is not that “romantic love” that is often controlling, manipulative, and selfish and even at times leads to evil; think of the love/hate relationships many people suffer through.  No, true love is something far greater than that. True love is something many people will never know, oh, they think they know about love, but seldom follow a truly loving path. It can be a very sad thing when one mistakes a greedy, needy, clingy, self-serving definition of “love” for the truth about what is means to really love.

If you reread the post about the nature of evil, you will see I outlined several emotional steps that progressively twist normal emotional signals out of harmony with the truth. Each time we move along the chain of emotions and fail to choose the correct action we unwittingly take a turn each time towards the dark side.  Collectively choosing the “negative” options for each subsequent emotion leads us farther and farther away from ’love” and closer and closer to evil. I attempt to illustrate this with a sliding scale moving from Evil on the left to Love on the right.

Remember the steps leading to evil?
Fear… Anger… Resentment…  Hate… Prejudice…  Domination… Destruction…and Hell.  Today I will give you my corollary to that progressively sick, evolution of animal’s way of dealing with our emotions. The answers are simple really; each negative emotion has an “antidote” so to speak that will (if followed) take one away from the darkness and into the light. Consider the following comparison of each negative emotion and its opposite, one choice leads to Heaven the other leads to Hell.

Fear……………………..…Sensitivity
Anger………………………Understanding
Resentment….……………Forgiveness
Hate………………………..Compassion
Prejudice ………………….Detachment
Domination……………..….Liberty
Destruction…………….…..Nurturance
Hell………………………….Heaven

I know all this is a very common sense thing and yet is seems nothing is so rare these days as “common sense.” Before you let an emotion take you on a ride towards the dark side apply these simple solutions:

Next time you feel fearful, be sensitive to the situation and keep your awareness. If you feel anger rising up, understand that maybe your rules are too strict or maybe you need to explain them better to others or just get out! Instead of resenting others, forgive them immediately, on the spot; resentment is a major pivot point towards evil. Before you find yourself resenting, judging, and hating someone, just find your compassion for whatever may be driving your harsh judgment that leads to hate. If you feel hate it may develop into prejudice about a person or a situation. The answer to these hateful feelings is to just detach from it, no matter how loathsome you may think something is, you can at least be glad that it is not you or about you!  When judging and hating others, people often start controlling and manipulating in an attempt to dominate them, maybe because they feel out of control themselves. Liberate them instead!  Just let it go or get yourself out… Give them all the freedom you would hope for yourself. True love never gives ultimatums or forces people to comply with rules; this applies to government as well. Instead of acting out of frustration at your failed attempts to control and coerce, (and thereby destroying your relationships or your communities) instead be nurturing of the other’s right to be free. All these responses are loving ways to relate that could save your family, nation and our world, if only people would choose them.

Even if only for yourself, follow these principles. According to Chinese medical theory, uncontrolled emotions cause energy to stagnate and damage the organs, for example:

Fear can damage the kidneys and bladder
Anger can disrupt the liver and gall bladder
Passion can upset the heart and small intestines
Worry can damage your stomach and spleen
Grief may lead to fluid in the lungs and obstructions in the large intestine.

Balanced emotions actually benefit each of the organs; healthy emotions cure each other. Later I will explain how healthy anger can cure fear, and how a little passion can help you get over anger; that worry can save you from excess joy and passion, and some grief is a good way to let go of your worries. Coming full circle, some healthy fear can pull you out of grief.

And what makes this all work? What magic element, process, elixir, or “emotion” turns the “wheel of emotions”? You guessed it I am sure. By living in a “State of Love” remaining, Sensitive, Understanding, Forgiving, Compassionate, Detached, Liberating, and Nurturing in all your dealings you can stay forever in Heaven, forever contented and forever loving.

See also:  The Nature of Evil

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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Sitting Qigong Class at Kaiser   1 comment

Maui Lani Clinic October 14th 21st and 28th  11-12 noon

I’ll be sharing some things I’ve learned from Dong Zeng Chen

Learning to do seated qigong is part exercise and part meditation and unlike almost anything you have ever done before. Tuning up your internal energies such as, breath, circulatory, nervous, chemical, hormonal, mental, emotional and spiritual systems is a key reason we take up Taiji.

Doing seated qigong effects a person differently from Taiji, focusing the mind more inwardly connecting with a different set of channels that flow qi in your body, mind and spirit. As Taiji (for a beginner) is about moving the body around, sitting qigong is more about moving energy around within the body.

Movement and stillness……Alternating between movement and stillness, learning to sublimate your energy, changing matter into energy directly, using the mind to focus the qi……Calming your mind and healing past emotional traumas, getting clear internally, feeling the growing spirit within you. All these things bring you a new level of self-awareness.

Wuji, Qigong and Taiji: all these methods work in concert to improve your life. We need to balance movement with stillness, standing with sitting, internal and external, yin and yang into yin/yang. Doing sitting qigong fills a void in my life in a way that standing and Taiji cannot.

Learning the basics of seated qigong may be the most valuable experience of your life.

Follow the link below to sign up:

https://members.kaiserpermanente.org/kpweb/classes/detailpage.do?bodyContainer=/htmlapp/feature/030classes/HAW/MauiLaniC/HAW-MauiLani-Exercise-ChairQigong.html

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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Taoist Meditation Lesson #5 (Practice Part 2)   2 comments

The Cat's Eye Nebula

First no form. Then form. Then no form…….

In the first three articles on basics and the first article on practice, I laid out the foundation for our actual cultivation procedures. Please read these previous articles until the concept of “dissolving the mind into the body” makes sense to you.  Keeping in mind, we are on an inward journey when we do Taoist meditation.

We pass from an external-centric universe to an internal one.  Along the way, we go through different layers of ourselves.  From a completely external world, through the body and mind, revealing our emotions and ultimately our spiritual center. From that perspective, we continue back through the layers and return to the external.

Always remember we are working with energy and when we do so we need to adhere to basic energetic principles. Also, know as we move inward we encounter different energies at each layer each combining and adding to the previous energies.  I am talking about quantum physics here. As we move inward and the energy level increases, it requires more training to control it.

The first step in the actual process of the “Transformational Tao of spiritual alchemy” is a basic understanding of what we are going to do… so up until now we have been looking at a kind of map of our journey.  On the path, so far you could say we have “opened the door” now it is time to step through it.

First, we need to align and relax our physical bodies. Next, we train an awareness of our energy allowing it to permeate the entire body. We start externally and as we become more aware, we move internally, melting away the boundaries between the layers as we progress.

When this is completed, we achieve a freedom from our bodies.  By utilizing our minds to become aware of the energy within us, we meld the two together essentially dissolving the mind into the body.  After we acquire this skill, we are able to get freedom from our thoughts as well.

Before starting, I suggest you Tune your Breath

Stand or sit in proper wuji, focus initially on your alignments.

After you are aligned and relaxed, close you eyes and let your arms hang down at your sides. Bring your awareness to your hands.  Just notice that you actually have hands….become aware of each finger or pairs of fingers one at a time. Just do this for a couple of minutes. Let them fill with blood and energy and feel them tingle.

In your mind’s eye, have an image of yourself standing or sitting there.  An image of you aligned to perfection, symmetrical and relaxed.

The only imagery we use in the Taoist method is that of reality.
Your “energy you” is a projection of your energy, that is what we see here. Now out of the corner of your mind’s eye notice your hands. As though you can actually see them, and as you do feel the tingling sensation therein.

This tingling sensation of energy is a manifestation of the only thing of any real importance that you have. Work on getting in touch with the pureness of your energy. Repeat this process until you can restrict your thoughts and body movements to the method outlined above.

This is the first step to dissolving your mind and body together, a skill known as sublimation.  Just work on this for now… do not think of “stuff”, do not allow imagery to invade your mind’s eye.

Eventually we will even dissolve away the image of yourself as separate from the energy that creates you…anything but pure energy is just an illusion….

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Taoist Meditation Lesson #4 (Practice Part 1)   2 comments

Find your Way to the top

First, combine lead and mercury
Second, form the gold pill
Third, refine the gold into the elixir…
.

In the first three articles, Taoist Meditation Basics, I laid out the foundation for a skill known as “Spiritual Alchemy”. It is a profound and yet simple path and in a way even fun. Don’t let the next few paragraphs throw you off, I’m just writing them for “full disclosure” on the topic.

The Taoist alchemical texts such as “The Book of Balance and Harmony”  uses metaphorical language that seems at times to contradict itself. I will try to simplify the jargon from the arcane and purposely cryptic text.

For example, try to comprehend the following typical (paraphrased) instructions:

Combine lead and mercury into the crucible. Then fire them in the furnace to form the gold pill.  Refine and rarify the gold pill and the elixir will form. Then you may enter the mysterious pass.

Let’s look at the symbolic language. Lead, represents essence, sort of like your physical energy, body and common sense. Mercury (quicksilver) represents mental/emotional energy, thinking etc. The crucible, is the body‘s energy channels and dantien at your center. The furnace, represents the mind, used to cook lead and mercury with the fire of discipline, concentration and insight.

The gold pill, is an understanding of energy, a nugget of primordial energy released, an awakening within, a “spiritual embryo” if you will. Refine and rarify refer to practicing cultivation arts like qigong and meditation.

The elixir is a reborn energy system, a full understanding of the principles and practice, being one with primordial energy. The mysterious pass is (a mystery) between Heaven and Earth, the gate into Tao … immortality in Taoist code.

This meditation practice is designed to bring about enlightenment.  For Taoists that term is more like “let go of your burden” (mental excess) if you “lighten your load” you are “enlightened.” Also let’s redefine “immortality” to mean “longevity” not necessarily “for all time.” Because you cannot create or destroy energy, the fully realized Taoists, quantum physicists that they are, know that true immortality does indeed exist in some  form; to be content with that knowledge is a sagely thing.

To start the practice of spiritual alchemy, remember what the famous sage told the king.

“My mind is merged with my body; my body is merged with my energy, my energy is merged with my spirit, and my spirit is merged with Tao.”

The first step is to merge your mind with your body.
1.     Open up your energy channels with some qigong
2.     Focus your mental energy into your body
3.     Use your mind to dissolve all thoughts and emotions

The second step is to merge your body with your energy.
4.     Embrace the pure unadulterated dissolved energy
5.     Become one with this energy, refining out imperfections
6.     Learn the truth about your true make up

The third step is to merge your energy with your spirit.
7.     Repeat the process until you meditate unceasingly
8.     Know that you are reborn continually in Tao
9.     Live confidently, contentedly, with no fears, forever.

Then your spirit will merge with Tao.

First, combine lead and mercury
Second form the gold pill
Third refine the gold into the elixir….

In the following articles, I will explain how we do these steps and I will give you some tools for performing the work of “Combining Lead and Mercury,“ yielding a “Spiritual Embryo” that you will cherish and nurture until it gives birth to a new you!

Until then learn the essential skill of Tuning your Breath

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Taoist Meditation Lesson #3 (Basics Part 3)   2 comments

Most people attempting to learn meditation have had years of conditioning that have programmed them to fail at that attempt.

Ponder this definition:  Meditate, noun, 2.) Continued or extended thought; reflection; contemplation.

Now this is not a failing of the language; because the word’s origin means: literally “to think.” Perhaps the Taoist method is not “meditation”.  By this I mean that, conscious thought is contrary to the prime objective of Taoist meditation, or rather just a basic starting point.  As to “thinking” the general premise is;  To ponder a concept of a “thing” in order to make a rational decision towards a situation etc. I am paraphrasing here because there are over twenty definitions of the word “think”.

Therefore, for our purposes we need to redefine meditation, in the Taoist perspective; meaning more or less the opposite of the classical definition. For even if we are contemplating energy it is preferred that there is no conscious “contemplating” going on and that for our purpose “energy“ is both “thing” and “non-thing.“

Seems to me that we do too much thinking already. Isn’t “thinking” one of the greatest sources of suffering in the human condition today?  Wouldn’t you love to be able to “not think” for just a moment?  Wouldn’t it be nice if that endless loop of thoughts would just “go away”?

To begin our practice we must form a new paradigm; most likely, almost everything you thought you understood about “meditating” is, in a word, wrong.  First, we need to learn a little about “Qigong” or energy cultivation as the Taoists of old called the practice. This art needs to be learned from a qualified teacher and that is beyond the scope of this article. I assume, if you are reading this, that you have a basic understanding of qigong.

These practices could be:
Moving or still
Internal (nei gong) or external (wei gong)
Sitting or standing
Physical or mental/emotional
Whatever the case may be, they are all manifestations of Yin/Yang.

The first step in learning the Taoist meditation methods that I have learned, is to open the body’s channels through some basic qigong movements.  It is possible to begin without first warming up this way but I would recommend doing so. Meditation practice can be standing or sitting but either way the basics are the same.

By opening up the energy pathways and dissolving our mind and body into one, the energy will spontaneously transmute into spirit.  After melting away the layers of body, mind and emotion, there is really only one place left for the energy to go into, the spirit. Sounds simple doesn’t it?  Keep in mind what Taoists call the “spirit” may be different that what you are thinking.

An ancient king once asked a famous Taoist sage, “What is your secret to longevity?”

The Sage replied, “My mind is merged with my body; my body is merged with my energy, my energy is merged with my spirit, and my spirit is merged with Tao.”

These concepts in Taoist Meditation Basics  Parts 1-3 lay the foundation for the practice of “Spiritual Alchemy.”  In the next 3 articles, on  “Taoist Meditation Practices”,  I will describe the actual process that is involved in performing the once closely guarded secret of “Spiritual Alchemy.”

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Taoist Meditation Lesson #2 (Basics Part 2)   1 comment

Finding the Way

In part one, I laid out the premise for “energy based” meditation techniques that are the basis of Taoist praxis.

While training with my Sifu, Master Dong, I would notice a certain smile upon his face while doing Qigong.  I can only describe the smile as the curious look of someone that has a secret; kind of a “I know something you don’t” grin. The reality is, that his smile is a truthful expression of just that, he does know something most people will never know.

Energy is the treasure we all can obtain, wealth beyond comprehension is always available to you. To the Taoist sages the definition of a rich man is “One who knows when he has enough.” Conversely it might be true to say that a poor man is “One that needs (or simply wants) more.”

Basic human needs not withstanding, the “Realized man” of antiquity was often a hermit living off the land, happy to live in a cave and forage for food, living close to nature.  In this light, we can see, that beyond food and shelter, “wealth”  is a relative thing. Taoists have no problems with having physical wealth, the defining thing is they don’t need any to be content.

A wise person makes themselves rich with the currency of Heaven and Earth. Gathering that treasure that flows from the Tao; accumulating virtues along the Way is the Taoist Way. Lao Tzu says, “Tao gives and gives and yet it is never depleted.”  When you have the Way you, you too will find “The more you give, the more you have.”

Our goal in learning Taoist meditation is to connect directly to energy.  Like a pile of gold coins we can sit with our energy or we can “spend” it. Every thought, image, fantasy, illusion, emotion and movement we make takes energy.  To the Taoists, purifying this energy was like refining gold. They even called the practice “Spiritual Alchemy.”  In meditation then, finding this energy and aligning with it, was and is a divine enterprise.

To the untrained, would be meditator, most attempts end in failure.  Even with advanced students it is a difficult skill to master without following certain guidelines.  For the beginner, sitting still and attempting to “align with your energy” will guarantee that you cannot. This is akin to a light bulb, that when turned on shines out incoherent light, millions of photons shooting out all willy-nilly, colliding with each other and heading off in random directions dissipating quickly into the surrounding darkness.

You need to train your energy system to focus the energy so it can flow on it’s own.  A laser beam is a wave of coherent light that has all the photons aligned with each other, all flowing in the same direction remaining focused and able to travel an almost infinite number of miles without dissipating.

In Part 3  I will describe in detail how we can train our energy to be focused like a laser beam instead of wasting most of it with “incoherent emissions” of Qi.

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Taoist Meditation Lesson #1 (Basics Part 1)   1 comment

Taoist Sage Sitting With His Treasure

The Taoist methods of meditation differ significantly from other “styles”.  To Taoists, the main focus of all the practices, is to understand reality, be content with that understanding, and to change what needs to change to find contentment within the truth of that reality.

This “Taoist” approach revolves around the concept of “energy”.
For example: Understand that everything is made from energy, align yourself with that energy, and the truth will set you free.

This approach is at odds with most other meditation techniques I have encountered. At least one style I know of uses the following type of format.
For example;  Imagine you are (fill in the blank), “pretend” you are happy there, “feel good” escaping from reality.

Without attempting to disrespect other methods, I will describe why the Taoist methods are more effective in this article.

The first thing is, Taoists don’t deal with “Illusions“.
Secondly, “feeling happy” can kill you and “feeling un-happy” may save your life.
Thirdly, if you do not “embrace reality” you never have lasting change.

While this all may seem obvious to many it is often subverted by many “meditation” methods in an attempt to “feel good”. The fact is the attempt to feel good is one the paths that have often lead to evil in the world. To be sure making no attempt to “feel” is a Taoist method that is highly effective. By relaxing our practice, we are  following the principle of “Wu Wei” or “non-striving” which allows for the spontaneous flow of energy, and this is a basic Taoist tenant.

The end result of “feeling good” comes not from any contrived means but spontaneously after one is aligned with Tao. Therefore, one only needs to align in order to find the truth and be set free from the endless loop of thoughts that plague the human mind.

As simple as that is, most people never find the peace from which they came from, the treasure beyond all treasures that is always within them.

Ineffective mediation techniques often lead to the following:
Stopping extraneous physicality often sends a person’s energy into the mental/emotional  realm where an untrained mind will start on a feed back loop, often enhanced by seemingly random images that get projected onto the dark screen of the “Minds Eye”.

Dealing with illusions leads to delusions that take one further away from reality. Evoking thought and emotions waste the energy that could otherwise heal you.

Thinking, feeling, visualizing, triggers emotions that send energy back into the loop of a thinking, feeling, reactive cycle that leads to distraction and rumination and frustration.  Often the overwhelmed student gives up leading to resentment that fuels more thinking feeling reacting ad nauseam. The end result is far worse than not “meditating” at all!

In the Part 2,  I will explain how we can avoid this type of pitfall, and what makes the Taoist method superior to methods that involve “thinking” or “feeling”.

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