Taoism

How I learn inner alchemical techniques

Right now, I’m learning Dao Yin exercises, which are exercises you can do to get rid of negative chi, while also cultivating positive chi. Whenever I learn a new technique, I take my time and learn them step by step, instead of trying to do the entire technique at once. I also make sure that I’ve learned all the preceding techniques and have a thorough understanding of how they work, before learning a new one, because learning the new technique necessarily builds off the preceding techniques.

A huge part of learning a technique is also paying attention to the experience. In fact, I’d argue that’s the most important aspect of learning something, because the experience will tell you a lot about what you are doing and may indicate if you are doing it right or if there is something that doesn’t fit.

Marrow Breathing Meditation Experiments

For the last month I've been experimenting with what I would call Marrow Breathing Meditation. It's a technique of meditation where you use your breath to connect with the marrow in your bones and use it to generate Chi and more blood cells. I learned about it when I read a book on Qigong practices that focused on this topic. While the book was mostly theoretical, I have enough experience with Taoist meditation practices that it wasn't hard to figure out how it should work and adapt my practices to explore if the marrow breathing meditation could work. 

Constant Change as a factor of magic

  TaoOne of the books I'm reading, Hide a Dagger Behind a Smile, explores how Chinese War strategies can be applied to business practices. The author even includes case studies that show how contemporary businesses have applied these practices to deal with competition and customers. It's an intriguing read, and one that got me to think about the element of change and magic, when the author noted that how Western and Eastern cultures approach change is different.

The author argues that Western culture takes a linear approach to change and considers it to be something that occurs between periods of rest. In other words, change occurs as a specific result/reaction and when change isn't needed, everything comes to rest. This is a very linear model and approach to change. Eastern culture, the author argues, takes a non-linear cyclical approach to change, with the recognition that change is always occurring and the idea being that the business ideally has plans in place not merely for the immediate future, but also down the line, with a proactive projection of trends.

Whether the author's claims are true or not (I'm inclined to agree with his assessment of how Eastern and Western cultures approach change) what I found important is that an effective approach to change recognizes that change is always occurring. In the Process of Magic course I actually include change as an element of the process and argue that we need to recognize change as a factor in its own right...not merely the change we want to make happen, but also changes that are occurring outside of our control and as a consequence of doing magic.

Change does occur all the time and the change can include things we for granted. Digestion of food is a change that we might not consider (unless we have an upset stomach or are on a diet). Change only becomes relevant when it effects us, unless we actually choose to proactively make change relevant. I prefer to make change relevant in my businesses and my life, because its something that is there. We change from moment to moment, even if most of the changes are subtle.

When I think about magic and change, what stands out to me is that Western Practical Magic does seem to mostly be done as a reaction to change. A problem crops up in your life and magic is done to manage or solve the problem. A change is caused to manage or solve the change that has occurred. Certainly when I look at my past work, before exposure to internal work, I see practical magic used to handle a problem and get back to a particular desired state of existence. I also recognize with hindsight that such an approach has limited effectiveness because it doesn't factor change in adequately enough to be truly effective.

However the integration of Eastern Meditation practices and magical work has "changed" my approach to magical work, and to change in general. I have slowly but surely become more proactive in how I approach change, and how I plan my life and business. Instead of trying to back to a desired state of status quo, I embrace change as a constant and accept that planning for it is essential in order to leverage practical magic as a meaningful asset for creating the kind of change I want to bring into my life and the world in general.

Looking for change and actively incorporating it into magic, while accepting that there will always be change that I'm not aware of or can't control, has been useful in developing a proactive to handle the latter forms of change (which at least can be anticipated), while also making the former forms of change into a useful tool that aids the magical work I do. Change is a reality of life...one of the few constants that will always be there. I think that factoring it into the magical work you do, and proactively accounting for it is important in order for magic, as a discipline, to evolve.

 

Endorphin

Endorphin is a guy in a jogging suit. The symbol he gave me is a fleshknot that has a tripod base, with each part of the tripod rising to twist around the other two parts. He causes pleasure, notable in runner high, but also in meditation and experiencing something new, but he also opens doors of possibility. At the same time endorphin warns about being overused because it can cause addiction. The sensation of endorphin is a tingling feeling...and also a feeling of flow. Book Review: Taoist Yoga by Charles Luk

I found this book to be an insightful read into Taoist internal alchemy, however I'd also say that anyone reading it needs to have at least a couple years experience to even begin to get the concepts discussed. What I found was that the book provided greater clarity about some of the different exercises I'd already done, but I also realized that if I didn't already have experience with those exercises, I probably wouldn't get what the author was discussing. It's a useful book to have for an intermediate to advanced Taoist meditation practitioner. 5 out 5

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Changing what you've learned

I recently finished reading a lot of Mantak Chia's works and implementing the practices into my daily work. I do find the practices useful, even if a lot of his books are repetitious. Even with that repetition, what I did get was a better sense of his process and how it works, as well as how to cut out a lot of the extraneous features, to still obtain the same result. Seems to me that's really how magic works. You figure out the process as another person describes, then you cut out what doesn't work, add what does, and work it. Certainly, I can appreciate that how Chia has presented his techniques work as they are, but I also could see where a couple steps could be dropped entirely to refine the process and still get the same result. And that shows me that any process isn't set in stone, and is always mutable. It's just dependent on whether or not the person feels confident about changing the process.

What do you think? How comfortable are you with changing what you've learned?

How to use breath work to undo physical stress

I've been feeling some physical tension in my shoulders and neck lately, and decided to do some breathing meditation to help me undo the tension and stress. I've found that using meditation to do this has been very helpful in allowing me to undo a lot of physical stress. The way to utilize meditation to undo stress is to focus on feeling the physical sensations of stress, while also focusing on your breath. The normal inclination is to avoid pain, or ignore it. But ignoring pain or avoiding it isn't really a solution and ultimately can lead to further problems. Learning to sit with pain seems to go counter to every instinct we have, and yet by sitting with your pain, and feeling it, you can actually begin to undo the cause of the pain. I breathe in and as I do so, I bring my attention to a focal point. When I breathe out, I guide my attention to the stress point, and begin to massage it, visualizing whatever I needed to visualize to help me understand the tension I feel. I breathe in again, drawing more attention and energy to a focal point, and then breathe out, releasing it to that place of tension, where it continues to work to untie the tension I feel.

Within a few breaths I can feel the pain begin to loosen it's hold as muscles relax and unclench. I feel the pain, but instead of letting it define me, I define its healing with my breath. It continues to loosen up because the breath work provides a rhythm to approach the feeling and releasing of it. Memories and emotions may arise with the release of physical tension and stress, and I will sit with them as well, acknowledging and feeling them, so that I can learn and let go.

This is how I undo physical and sometimes emotional/mental stress. I use my breath and consciousness as a tool. I choose to feel the pain, to embrace it, and thus release it, because I no longer feel compelled to be held down by it. Instead of avoiding it, which actually increases its hold on me, I surrender to it, and in surrender come to understand it, and thus come to peace with it. And all it involves is breathing and focusing your awareness on the tension you feel, so that you can gradually loosen it and let it go

Book Reviews

Review of Outliers: The Story of Success by Malcolm Gladwell This was a very interesting book that I'd recommend to anyone because it examines how success is achieved or not achieved based on cultural and historical legacies that people have access to. The premise of the book provides an intriguing look at how success is achieved as well as a ways to look at one's own heritage to capitalize on historical and cultural traits which can help a person find meaningful success. I definitely recommend reading this as an example of how a person's sense of individuality is ultimately based off a collective history and heritage as opposed to the myth of the rugged individual.

5 out 5

Seeking the Spirit of the book of Change by Zhongxian Wu

In this book, the author presents an explanation of the divinatory system of the i-ching and classic Taoist techniques for understanding and utilizing that system. The case studies he provides are very helpful for understanding how the divinatory system works, but be warned, you do need to have more than a basic familiarity with the concepts he discusses to get the most out of this book. While I definitely could understand what he was writing about, I know I'd need to do more research on the i-ching before being comfortable with this divination system. That said, this book does provide an excellent read and opportunity to learn more about the i- ching

5 out of 5

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On the value of Inner Alchemy

I'm copy editing a book for Immanion Press called Whiskey, Tango, Foxtrot: A Troubleshooter's Guide to Magic by A'Miketh, and I'm really impressed by what I'm reading, because this guy has managed to explain some complex concepts in fairly approachable language, and more importantly he's cleared stated the value and need for doing external work before getting into all of the flashy external magical work. And I have a lot of respect for that. I was chatting with Bill Whitcomb earlier tonight about how change occurs in society, and we both agreed that change takes a long time to occur when it's done right, because the best way that change occurs is through changing the internal reality of yourself and modeling that change to others. It's not nearly as dramatic or active as trying to protest political rallies or trying to throw a revolution because you dislike what other people are doing. It's a much slower form or change...it takes time and some effort to create change in yourself that brings you to healthier patterns of behavior and communication.

But I would take that kind of change over the change of a revolution, because a revolution inevitably only replaces the previous oppressors with the people revolting against them. That is to say in a revolution the only thing that changes are the people in charge. What doesn't change is how those people treat other people, because for a revolution to usually be successful, it is violent...and that same violence twists the people who beget it, so that they become what they hate, because having overthrown a previous government, they quickly begin to fear that the same will happen to them. The French revolution and the Bolshevik revolution and revolutions in China (both in the early and mid twentieth century), and to a lesser extent the American revolution are good examples of this process, where change is promised and a government is overthrown and ultimately what replaces it is more of the oppression that the revolutionaries claimed they fought against. This incidentally is one of the reasons I'm skeptical about the so-called good intentions of the activists...I see them as just another form of political extremism and should that extremism replace what we currently have, I don't believe it will be any better than what it replaces.

I favor instead a revolution that comes from within a person...a fervent desire to change the self, to recognize that to change the world around us, we must first be willing to take responsibility for our own actions and thoughts. Instead of blaming others for the woes of the worlds, we should take responsibility for ourselves and what we can change...our attitudes about others, our actions toward the environment we live in and do it in a manner where we model how we want the world to change, but without trying to force that change down everyone's throat. I imagine that may sound idealistic, but in copy-editing this book and reading this person's thoughts on how to create a system of mindful awareness and internal change mechanisms in western practices of occultism, I see more than idealism...I see a methodology and practice that can make it happen, but ultimately requires a voluntary to make it occur. I turned to Taoist and Buddhist breathing and meditation techniques to develop a system for internal work that was also mixed with Western techniques for pathworking, but in reading some of Dunlap's ideas, I also see some hope for Western occultism developing some of those same internal practices without having to borrow as much from Eastern practices.

It seems to me that when a culture or society doesn't have a system of some sorts for developing reflective and consciousness awareness of emotions and reactions and triggers, it is very hard for that society to change. And really, for this kind of internal work to really bear results, you need everyone in society doing the work...not just some monks in a mountain hideaway. This is why I hope such practices will continue to become more prevalent in this culture...so that people can really be aware of what sets them off and work on deprogramming the bad triggers, while also figuring out who they really want to be and how they want to manifest that to each other and the world at large. I think if such practices were more prevalent there would be much less violence, much more cooperation, and also much more of a sense of connection to and with each other as well as an awareness of the responsibility we have to each other, to ourselves and to the environment we live in, aka, to the entirety of this Earth and universe.

Energy Work update

I've recently been working with Mantak Chia's Cosmic Fusion energy technique, which builds off the elemental fusion work. I've so far done two of the trigrams, and I'm going to add the third tonight with the breath work I'm doing. The benefits I'm noticing are a stronger cleaning out of the energetic and physical body, but also a condensing of the energy being recycled...so basically it enhances the elemental fusion work. I have to say that the Taoist system of energy work is probably the most thorough one I've worked with so far, especially because the emphasis is on integrating the energy work into the body. I feel the effects and my health has improved because of doing the energy work. It's much easier to maintain my energetic reserves as well. I'll post updates as I continue with integrating it into my life.