Taoism

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

A meditation on love

This morning I decided to meditate on love, and more specifically on a realization I had of a pattern of getting involved with people I showed interest in over the last couple of years who, in one form or another, didn't fully return the interest. This includes people I would actually have a romantic relationship with. This pattern is a variant of a pattern I used to have where I'd only get involved with people I knew would reject me. I did a Taoist dissolving technique and used the breath to lead me to the place where I felt the physical blockage, around my heart. I sat with the blockage, letting the breath go in and out, and around the blockage, gradually loosening up the feeling of tension in my body. As the tension dissipated, I let the emotions "talk" to me, show me really what the issue is. In this case, I saw myself restraining myself to fit into what I thought other people wanted. I could see this belt across my body. It fit uncomfortable and it was being used to constrain and restrain me.

I decided to undo the belt. I pulled it out of it's clasp, and slipped it off. Immediately my body seemed to relax. And I heard," It's more important to be you than to try and fit yourself to other people's expectations. Aren't you tired of trying to be something you aren't?

Good advice. I am tired of holding myself back...not letting myself be the passionate, intense person I can be. I've tried to stuff myself into a box, with my relationships, instead of being true with myself and recognizing when a relationship isn't a good fit for me. And in the process I've hurt myself and the person I was trying to be a fit for.

I took the belt off and realized that I'm ready to be done with relationships where I'm trying to fit into what that person wants. I'd rather be myself and be appreciated for that, without having to constrain myself. And sure I'm willing to collaborate with someone, to figure out how we can be positive influences in each other's lives, but I don't want to be afraid that I'm too much or too intense for someone.

I kept breathing in and out, and gradually came back to this moment, this space, yet different. I don't feel so tense...so constrained.

Update on energy work

I've been continuing to do the fusion of the five elements practice each day. I've been noticing both physical and energetic results. Tighter stomach, and more physical energy, and a sense of greater well-being, as well as more energy to work with. What I like about this technique is the emphasis on the integration of physical awareness with the energy work. It's more of a centering and grounding technique, but the centering and grounding occur in the body and via the cycle that is created by doing this technique. I'll soon be back to where I was with it before, but without all the energetic baggage. In fact, that's probably what I note most...no blockages, more flow, more focus, and more awareness. I'm looking forward to integrating the Kan and Li work with this technique. I've got a feeling that all I will be integrating will prove really useful from both an inner alchemical methodology and also toward becoming more healthy.

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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Some insights into Taoist inner alchemy

I'm reading Qigong Meditation: Small circulation by Yang Jwing-Ming. I'm finding this book to be really useful in further refining my understanding of Taoist energy work, particularly on one issue which concerns the retention of semen. If you've read any of Mantak Chia's work, Chia argues that it's absolutely essential to retain the semen during sex in order to avoid losing your energy. I've never been fully satisfied by Chia's explanation, mainly because I haven't fully understood the correlation between the loss of semen and the loss of energy. However in Yang's book this correlation is explicitly explained in a manner, which explains what the issue is, and also adds a further step to the process of refinement. Yang explains that when the semen is full the hormones stimulate the brain and generate sexual desire, which in turn energizes the person...and that the goal of the inner alchemy is to actually transform the semen into Qi (or raw energy) Having sex too frequently can deplete the amount of semen available to convert into qi, while not having it too frequently actually slows down the production of semen...so it seems having a somewhat active sex life is actually important for the inner alchemical conversion process.

When the semen is turned into qui, it can then be used to nourish the body. In fact, what is called marrow washing is essentially a process of taking converted qi and using it to heal/regenerate the body.

The explanation offered does provide some insight into how Taoist inner alchemy works, and specifically what the function of semen is for the energy work being done by the male (though you rarely find much written in regards to the female). I'll be sure to update readers further as I continue reading and/or trying out the techniques in this book.

Learning not to struggle with my demons

Since starting to read Tsultrim Allione's book, Feeding Your Demons, I've been re-learning something I've learned before, but from a Taoist perspective in Relaxing into your Being: Breathing, Chi, and Dissolving the Ego, by B. K. Frantzis. From the Taoist perspective you use breathing and energy work to dissolve blockages. With Tsultrim's work, you embody the bloackages or issues into demons you can interact with and then you dissolve them by feeding the demons what they need, as opposed to what they want. And what both books teach is that the more you actively resist or fight something, the stronger it gets, because you are letting it guide and control your strength. By relaxing, and also learning how to use your strength to guide the demon/blockage you can actually loosen up a lot of resistance and free your energy up. The last few weeks have been hard for me, because I've consciously realized just how much I've struggled against some of my demons, all the while making them stronger. When you observe behavior that you know is unhealthy and you know you should stop it, but you feel your efforts aren't working, it's like watching a train wreck happening. You can't stop it and you feel helpess and frustrated. That's how I've felt not even the just the last few weeks, but really the last few months, since the beginning of this emptiness working. And every bit of progress I've gained has been a struggle, a fight for even an inch...yet in fighting myself so much I have made it so much harder on myself than I needed to.

You might wonder, since I've had access and been doing the Taoist breathing, why that didn't just work, but I think that while it does work, there's also something to be said for how people sometimes box themselves in through their perceptions. It's been in reading and working with the exercises in Tsultrim's work that I've finally started to feel less resistance and less struggle. It's still there some, because I'm not used to interacting with my emptiness or abandonment issues without some form of struggle involved, but emboding my issue into the form of a demon, where I can interact with it has helped me actually put a face to my issues and so respond to them with more compassion than I would normally allow for myself. In fact, perhaps because I haven't previously embodied my issues in a form that was approacheable, it's been harder to feel compassion because it still on some levels feels like an abstract concept that I'm grappling with. The embodiment of an aspect of myself provides something that's more flesh and blood...and I've had access to techniques like this, but what's helping me GET this concept is the way Tsultrim words/explaisn the technique as well as the underlying issues that create these demons. I've read books on pathworking, explained from a Western Magical perspective, but the problem that has occurred is that the approach has often been worded in an abstract, intellectual manner, without a corresponding level of emotional/spiritual awareness that allows a person to feel the technique, as well as visualize it or read about it.

I'm still struggling with my demons, but each day it's a bit less and I find it makes what I'm doing a bit easier...it's easier to feel compassion for my struggles, for my weak moments, and for my failings than it ever was before. I can finally accept my failings and from that acceptance start toward a genuine path of change and growth.

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.