Taoist Meditation

Taoist meditation is basically a sort of wisdom achieved by close observation of the things and phenomena in the world surrounding us.  Taoist meditation methods have many points in common with Hindu and Buddhist systems, but the Taoist way is less abstract and far more down-to-earth than the contemplative traditions which evolved in India. The primary hallmark of Taoist meditation is the generation, transformation, and circulation of internal energy.

The two primary guidelines in Taoist meditation are jing (‘quiet, stillness, calm’) and ding (‘concentration, focus’). The purpose of stillness, both mental and physical, is to turn attention inwards and cut off external sensory input, thereby muzzling the “Five Thieves”. Within that silent stillness, one concentrates the mind and focuses attention, usually on the breath, in order to develop what is called ‘one-pointed awareness’, a totally uninterrupted, undisturbed, undifferentiated state of mind which permits intuitive insights to arise spontaneously.

The aim of Taoist meditation (and meditation in general) is to calm the mind and body to the greatest degree possible. Taoists put great importance on emptiness and stillness, and these qualities are never more important than in meditation. Once the mind is emptied of trivial thoughts, stress vanishes, and when the body is completely relaxed its systems can work at full strength. The chi is strengthened during meditation, and thus there is an important effect on health and general wellbeing. The long term effects of such practices on mental and physical levels can be profound.

Taoist meditation works on all three levels of the ‘Three Treasures’: essence (body), energy (breath), and spirit (mind).

  • The first and the most important step is to assume a comfortable body posture, balance your weight evenly, straighten the spinal cord, and focus attention on  physical sensations such as heat, cold, tingling, shivering, or whatever feeling arises.
  • When your body is comfortable enough and well balanced, shift your attention to the second level, which forms breath and energy. You may focus on the breath itself as it flows in and out of the lungs through the nostrils, or on energy streaming in and out of a particular point in tune with the breath.
  • The third level is spirit: when the breath is regulated and energy is flowing smoothly through the channels, focus attention on thoughts and feelings forming and dissolving in your mind, awareness expanding and contracting with each breath, insights and inspirations arising spontaneously, visions and images appearing and disappearing. Eventually you may even be rewarded with intuitive flashes of insight regarding the ultimate nature of the mind: open and empty as space; clear and luminous as a cloudless sky at sunrise; infinite and unimpeded.

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