3 Taoist Meditation Techniques To Awaken The Spirit And Open The Heart
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 on the 8th-century B.C.
The chief characteristic of this type of meditation is the generation, transformation, and circulation of inner energy. The purpose is to quiet 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.
SEE ALSO: The Meaning Of The Tao
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There are several different types of Taoist meditation, and they are sometimes classified in three: “insight”, “concentrative”, and “visualization”.
This is a brief overview:
- Emptiness meditation — This meditation is all about emptying yourself; all mental images, thoughts, feelings, etc. are forgotten in order to find inner quiet and emptiness. This state allows for spiritual energy to be replenished. Thoughts and sensations arise and fall by themselves, without acknowledging them. Some people consider this type of meditation to be too challenging, but the truth is it’s a powerful way of learning stillness.
- Breathing meditation (Zhuanqi) — Many meditation traditions use this technique, including Buddhism and Hinduism. However, that doesn’t mean it’s not really effective! The idea behind it is to unite the breath and qi by focusing on the breath until it becomes ‘soft’. This can be done with similar techniques to Pranayama. With gradual practice, you can make your breath so slow it almost seems like it’s stopped!
- Neiguan (“inner observation; inner vision”) — This is the third and most powerful meditation. Using our inner vision, we are better able to see our true path in life, to travel through the wilds of our emotional landscape, and to traverse the deep rivers and ravines of our inner being and arrive back home, back at our eternal source, back at Tao. This can be a tough practice to master, and a teacher is recommended. We need to become quiet inside in order to hear the “still, small voice within” and benefit from the guidance we receive.
These meditations are done seated cross-legged on the floor, with spine erect. The eyes are kept half-closed and fixed on the point of the eyebrows.
A Guided Introduction to Qi Gong Meditation
- Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and your knees slightly bent. You can also sit with your legs crossed.
- Relax, and begin to notice how you feel.
- Begin natural breathing.
- On your next inhalation, keeping your elbows bent and your fingers toward the sky, bring your arms level with your shoulders and pulled slightly back. Gently tilt your sacrum backward, arching your spine. Open your chest and allow the rib cage to expand, activating the thymus and adrenal glands. Allow your head to drop backward and allow your jaw to soften.
- As you exhale, tilt your sacrum forward, tucking your tailbone and rounding your spine as if curling into a ball. Bring your elbows together in front of your chest, and let your chin drop toward your chest as you lightly clench your teeth.
- Repeat 9 or 18 times, then return your head and spine to neutral and rest.
- Embrace a long period of silence, and repeat the cycle again when you’re ready.
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