Taoism (Daoism) is a Chinese philosophy and religion, dating back to Lao Tzu (or Laozi). It emphasizes living in harmony with Nature, or Tao, and its main text is the Tao Te Ching, dating back to 6th century B.C. Later on, some lineages of Taoism were also influenced by Buddhist meditation practices brought from India, especially in the 8th century C.E.
The chief characteristic of this type of meditation is the generation, transformation, and circulation of inner energy. The purpose is to quieten the body and mind, unify body and spirit, find inner peace, and harmonize with the Tao. Some styles of Taoist Meditation are specifically focused on improving health and giving longevity.
How to do it
There are several different types of Taoist meditation, and they are sometimes classified into three: “insight”, “concentrative”, and “visualization”. Here is a brief overview:
Emptiness meditation — to sit quietly and empty oneself of all mental images (thoughts, feelings, and so on), to “forget about everything”, in order to experience inner quiet and emptiness. In this state, vital force and “spirit” are collected and replenished. This is similar to the Confucius discipline of “heart-mind fasting”, and it is regarded as “the natural way”. One simply allows all thoughts and sensations to arise and fall by themselves, without engaging with or “following” any of them. If this is found to be too hard and “uninteresting”, the student is instructed with other types of meditation, such as visualization and Qigong
Breathing meditation (Zhuanqi) — to focus on the breath, or “unite mind and qi”. The instruction is to “focus your vital breath until it is supremely soft”. Sometimes this is done by simply quietly observing the breath (similar to Mindfulness Meditation in Buddhism); in other traditions, it is by following certain patterns of exhalation and inhalation so that one becomes directly aware of the “dynamisms of Heaven and Earth” through ascending and descending breath (a type of Qigong, similar to Pranayama in Yoga).
Neiguan (“inner observation; inner vision”) — visualizing inside one’s body and mind, including the organs, “inner deities”, qi (vital force) movements, and thought processes. It’s a process of acquainting oneself with the wisdom of nature in your body. There are particular instructions for following this practice, and a good book or a teacher is required.
Qigong (Chi kung) Origin & Meaning
Qigong (also spelled chi kung, or chi gung) is a Chinese word that means “life energy cultivation”, and is a body-mind exercise for health, meditation, and martial arts training. It typically involves slow body movement, inner focus, and regulated breathing. Traditionally it was practiced and taught in secrecy in the Chinese Buddhist, Taoist, and Confucianist traditions. In the 20th century, the Qigong movement has incorporated and popularized Daoist meditation, and “mainly employs concentrative exercises but also favors the circulation of energy in an inner-alchemical mode” (Kohn 2008a:120).
Daoist practices may also employ Qigong, but since Qigong is also applied in other Chinese philosophies, I decided to treat it as a separate subject.
How to do it
There are thousands of different Qigong exercises cataloged, involving over 80 different types of breathing. Some are specific to martial arts (to energize and strengthen the body); others are for health (to nourish body functions or cure diseases); and others for meditation and spiritual cultivation. Qigong can be practiced in a static position (seated or standing), or through a dynamic set of movements – which is what you typically see in YouTube videos and on DVDs. The exercises that are done as a meditation, however, are normally done sitting down, and without movement.
To understand more about Qigong and learn how to do it, I’d recommend getting a book or DVD set from Dr. Yang Jwing Ming, such as this one. But here goes an introductory overview of the practice of seated Qigong meditation:
Other famous Qigong exercises are:
Small Circulation (also called “microcosmic circulation”)
Eight Pieces of Brocade (see this book excerpt & Wikipedia article)
Muscle Tendon Changing (or “Yi Jin Jing”, taught by Bodhidharma)
The first two are seated meditation, while the latter two are dynamic Qigong, integrating body stretches.
Qigong meditation may be more attractive to people that like to integrate a more active body and energy work into the practice. If seated meditation is unbearable for you, and you prefer something a bit more active, try some of the more dynamic forms of Qigong. Again, there are several styles of Qigong out there, and you may need to try with different teachers or DVDs to find the one that suits you. Some people have a taste of dynamic Qigong through the practice of Tai Chi.
Action through non-action. I've come to the conclusion with being a psychic/medium, my thoughts are actually being represented with it being true. I let all in, and differentiate the thoughts with understanding different spirits. It helps with channeling, and most my information comes through the mind before I google whatever I'm looking for.
Thanks for this!