When we learn how to do Taoist meditations we take control of Qi in the body and mind. The result is improved mental health and better physical wellbeing.
Meditation is one of the best forms of mental exercises because it helps virtually every part of your body and mind.
Today I would like to talk about Taoist meditation techniques.
Taoist meditation techniques range from easy, entry-level meditations for beginners, to highly advanced meditations that only well-seasoned meditators should try.
No matter what your level, you can definitely benefit from Taost meditations.
Taoist meditations are one of the best ways to clear your mind, to control your chi, and to create longevity and well-being.
Lot’s of people ask me did Bruce Lee meditate. The answer is a resounding Yes. Bruce Lee did Taoist meditations.
So, let’s discuss Taoist meditations, which are one of the main groups I covered in my guide to 31 major meditation techniques.
If you would like to try Taoist meditation, it’s good to know a little about Taoism first.
Taoism (or Daoism(, is one of the three main religions in China. Approximately 13 million Chinese people identify as Taoist, and there are approximately 20 million Taoists worldwide. The most famous of all time is Bruce Lee, who made Taoism popular in the West.
Taoism (Daoism) began in the 6th century BC with Chinese Philosopher Lzo Tzu. Indeed, most Taoist meditations come from Lao Tzu (we’ll look at Lao Tzu’s meditation techniques in just a moment).
Lao Tzu believed that it is important to live in harmony with nature–both our inward nature and the outward natural world. And so he devised a philosophical and practical belief system to enable us to do precisely that. Through the Tao (the “way”), he taught how to purify the mind and live in inner peace, in harmony with the natural world.
So, what do Taoists believe in? Harmony. Self acceptance. And following “the way”.
You’ll probably notice how so many movies cover these themes, such as Star Wars, which even portrays Taoist techniques when Yoda meditates.
The Benefits Of Taoism And Taoist Meditation
There are 100+ ways meditation helps us.
And there are specific benefits of Taoist meditation and Taoism in general.
Writing for UrantiaBook.com, Meredith Sprunger says:
“Taoism is more a philosophy than a religion. It is concerned with the quality of life and has little interest in the heavens, gods, rituals, or life after death.”
Taoism is more about well-being than about religion. And because of this, there are very many real-world health benefits of Taoism.
At a glance, Taoist meditation is about creating, transforming and circulating inner energy, which Taoists call “chi”.
You’ve probably heard the word “chi” In pop culture. It’s used in lots of movies and animes, and it’s also the inspiration behind The Force in Star Wars.
Taoists believe that chi is the universal life energy that resides in all living beings. It is a soft, flowing energy, but a powerful one.
A famous Lao Tzu quotes says,
“Water is fluid, soft, and yielding. But water will wear away rock, which is rigid and cannot yield. As a rule, whatever is fluid, soft, and yielding will overcome whatever is rigid and hard. This is another paradox: what is soft is strong.”
This Lao Tzu quote is at the heart of all Taoist meditation.
Taoist meditation is about liberating the energy in your body and mind so it can flow freely, unobstructed.
You can learn more about this in my guide to cultivating your chi.
An explanation of Taoist Meditation for Beginners
Frantzis tells us,
Meditation can be defined as the process of releasing any blocked energy that is attached to any thought… Meditation is the ability to let go and change the structure inside of you.
Taoist meditation is about removing blockages to improve the flow of chi.
“Blockages” are a big deal for our wellbeing.
When we think about how we feel when we are ill or unhappy, compared to how we feel when we are healthy and happy, we realise that the former feels like a blockage, and the latter feels like a free-flowing state.
When were you most happy in your life?
Bring that memory to mind. Do you remember that you felt free, that it was like you were flowing unobstructed?
Now think about the last time you were ill or unhappy.
When I was 30 I went through depression. My mind was absolutely stuffed full of negative thoughts. I was fixated on negativity. There was zero flow in my mind. Just in the same way, when I was a pudgy-faced kid I suffered from asthma very badly. I was in hospital often. And to this day, when I think back I can still feel the blockage in my chest. Funny how asthma and depression both gave me the same feeling of blocked energy.
- When our energy flows freely we are healthy and happy.
- When it is blocked, we are unhealthy and unhappy.
Taoist meditation is about removing blockages and freeing energy in the body.
This Bruce Less quote expresses an important past of Taoist meditation
Self love improves chi flow
One of the main reasons for a blockage is lack of self acceptance.
It is hard to flow when you do not accept yourself.
And so, just as Buddhist advocate self love and self acceptance, so too do Taoists.
Writing for PersonalTao.com, Casey Kochmer says,
‘The path of understanding Taoism is simply accepting yourself. Live life and discover who you are. Your nature is ever changing and is always the same. Don’t try to resolve the various contradictions in life, instead learn acceptance of your nature.”
Already, we can see that Taoism and Buddhism are similar. And you might be wondering about the difference between Taoism and Buddhism.
Taoist Meditation VS Buddhist Meditation
Here on THE DAILY MEDITATION I previously wrote about the best Buddhist meditations.
So how do Taoist meditations compare to Buddhist methods?
There are actually lots of similarities between Buddhist meditation and Taoist meditation.
Both are about purifying the mind and letting go. And both advocate living in the present moment.
However, Taoist meditation focuses on energy (chi) far more than Buddhist meditation does.
Because of this, many Taoist meditation techniques involve movement.
Taoist movement meditation include:
So, Taoist meditations are movement based (but not always), and traditional Buddhist meditations usually done while sitting or standing (except for certain techniques, such as Zen Walking).
There are other spiritulities that are similar to Taosim. For instance, there are chi methods used in Hawaiian Huna.
Because of the similarities, it is a good ideas for beginners to practice Taoist meditation and Buddhist meditations. See which works best for you.
How To Do Taoist Meditation Techniques
Taoist meditation is about living in the present moment, accepting the self, and purifying the mind.
Whichever type of Daoist meditation you try, you should strive for quiescence.
As Lao Tzu says:
“Abide in stillness.
The ten thousand beings rise and flourish
While the sage watches their return.
Though all beings exist in profusion
They all end up returning to their source.
Returning to their source is called tranquility.”
As you practice Taoist meditation, bear this Lao Tzu quote in mind.
The Beginners Taoist Meditation
Most of us have not cultivated the inner serenity of a monk.
Most of us need a little help producing quiescence.
When we meditate, many of us fidget, stretch, become distracted…
Inner stillness is an art that needs to be learned.
The best way to learn the art of stillness is to sit still and meditate on the breath.
This beginners Taoist breathing meditation will help produce the right mental foundation.
If you wish to meditate for a long period, it is best to mix seated meditation with moving forms like Qi Gong and Tai Chi.
Taoist Meditation Instructions
This technique incorporates a specific hand position (mudra) called Cosmic mudra. You might like to learn this first. Read my guide to Buddhist mudras.
- Sit with good posture. Sitting in lotus position is optional but certainly not necessary. What matters is that we sit in a way that supports good spinal health. Alternatively, it is perfectly acceptable to lie down or stand up.
- Place your hands in your lap with the tips of the thumb touching, similar to the position used in Zen meditation, which is a mudra called the Cosmic Mudra (see the link above).
- Imagine chi flowing straight up the spine and out the top of the head. The head and neck should be relaxed, and the chin should be tucked in a little. This helps chi to flow freely.
- While you are in this posture, make sure you are relaxed. You should feel balanced and free of tension.
- Bring your attention to your breath.
- In Taoist meditation (and other forms) we breathe deep in a relaxed way, and always through the nose. Your diaphragm should move and your breath should flow freely into your lower abdomen. This is the same breathing style used in other meditations and also in singing.
- The flow of the breath into the body will massage the organs, producing a deep sense of relaxation.
- Continue to focus on your breathing for ten minutes.
- While you are sitting and breathing, place the tip of your tongue on your lower palette. Why do we do this? One of the more interesting parts of Taoist philosophy regards the energy pathways in the body. Like your chakras, there are certain points that serve as hubs for the energy that flows through the body. Two of the most important energy pathways in Taoism are the “du mai” and the “ren mai”. Du mai is a pathway up the back of the body. Ren mai is a pathway down the front of the body. These two pathways converge at the at the hard and soft palette in the mouth. So by placing the tongue over that spot we complete the pathway, which helps chi to flow.
- Notice that saliva is building in your mouth. This is important. Taoists have a very interesting belief about saliva. They believe it is a precious substance, so precious, in fact, that they call it “golden dew”. Saliva contains hormones, proteins and other vital substances. That’s why, when you notice a build-up of saliva on your tongue while meditating, you should swallow forcefully. This will help the saliva move deeper into your body (though Western medicine may not agree with this, so you might like to ask a doctor before you try this).
- Unlike Buddhists, Taoists do not advocate sitting still for very long periods of time. This, they say, will cause your energy to become stagnant. Read: Movement meditations).
Advancing The Basic Taoist Meditation Technique
Now that we’ve practiced just sitting still, we can begin to advance the basic Taoist meditation technique.
- Sit comfortably on a chair or a meditation cushion, or alternatively you can also lie on the floor provided you can do so while maintaining focus (I know some of you guys like to nod off while you meditate in bed, so try to avoid that)
- Rest the tip of your tongue on the top palate and begin to practice deep breathing through your nose. As you breathe in, visualise chi entering your body as a pure white light. The light fills you as water fills a jug. It fills your body and your mind. Notice how the light enters areas of your mind and body that are tight and tense. And as it enters those parts, the areas relax, until you experience complete relaxation.
- As you breathe out, impurities leave your body as black mist. Using your inner eye, watch as that black mist dissipates, being replaced by white light.
- Breathing deeply and slowly, let the pure white light wash away your sorrow, worry, fears, physical tension and all other negatives. Continue this for twenty minutes.
- This Taoist meditation techniques ends with palming the eyes and face. Rub your hands together many times until they are warm. Now gently, soothingly, brush your palms down your face a few times.
- Carrying the pure white light with you, come back to the present moment as you open your eyes.
This is one of the very best Taoist meditation techniques for deep relaxation and purity of mind. I hope you have enjoyed it.
More Taoist Meditation Techniques To Try
We have looked in depth at one of the most important Taoist meditation techniques. However, there are many more Taoist meditation techniques that you might like to try.
Let’s take a look at some of the best Taoist practices.
Emptiness Meditation Technique
This is one of my favorite deep meditations.
Emptiness meditation is precisely as it sounds. It is sitting quietly and emptying the mind of all thoughts and mental images, including feelings, imaginings and so on.
When we do this, we experience a deep state of meditative bliss and inner peace.
You may have heard of the Confucius technique “Heart Mind Fasting”.
Emptiness meditation technique is similar.
You simply sit still and allow your mind to empty. This gives your mind an opportunity to let go and to move towards emptiness, which is a state in which the vital force and spirit is replenished.
Like Bruce Less says “The usefulness of the cup is its emptiness”.
It is about letting your thoughts and feelings rise and fall without interference, so that your mind flows as freely as the tide upon the shore.
I’ll share a tip with you.
The secret to performing this meditation technique successfully is to let go of your mind. Let your thoughts rise and fall as they will without trying to control them. If you would like help with this, let me know.
Even though this technique sounds incredibly simple, it can be challenging. Many people become distracted. If this happens to you, you might prefer to use a more involved technique, such as tai chi, which gives you something to actively do so you do not lose focus.
Zhan Zhuang is a Taoist practice that is used in tai chi and martial arts to cultivate inner stillness and to create physical strength. It loosely means “pole standing”. It is precisely how it sounds: standing still.
Zhan Zhuang is technically considered a “dynamic meditation” although it is usually practiced by standing in a single position. For instance, martial artists will stand in one of the fighting stances, and will maintain the position for many minutes. This is one of the meditations Bruce Lee did often.
You might wonder why you would want to stand still and like a pole for any length of time.
There are many reasons.
Firstly, if you are into martial arts, Zhan Zhungi is one of the best ways of mastering stances.
If you are into tai chi or Qigong, Zhan Zhuangi helps you to become aware of how the structure of the body works, as well as practicing specific positions (such as Parting The Wild Horse’s Main).
And for all of us, Zhanh Zhuanh improves our focus and inner stillness.
“Zhan Zhuang is a stance practice in which the body is kept essentially still and mostly upright, though there are some stances where the spine is not vertical.”
Zhuangi (Taoist Breathing Meditation)
Zhuangi is Taoist breathing meditation. It’s a technique that is used to bring your mind into harmony with the flow of chi. It is very similar to other breathing meditations.
When he was explaining Zhuangi, Lao Tzu said we must, “focus vital breath until it is supremely soft.” This can be done while sitting still, similar to when we practice Anapanasati (mindfulness of breathing) or it can be done in a way that is similar to pranayama (the way you breathe in yoga). This latter technique is abut using specific patterns of inhalation and exhalation.
A Lao Tzu quote reads,
“To circulate the Vital Breath:
Breathe deeply, then it will collect.
When it is collected, it will expand.
When it expands, it will descend.
When it descends, it will become stable.
When it is stable, it will be regular.
When it is regular, it will sprout.
When it sprouts, it will grow.
When it grows, it will recede.
When it recedes, it will become heavenly.
The dynamism of Heaven is revealed in the ascending;
The dynamism of Earth is revealed in the descending.
Follow this and you will live; oppose it and you will die.”
Neiguan (“inner observation”)
Neiguan is an advanced Taoist meditation technique that I would not recommend for beginners.
In Neiguan meditation we visualise the inner processes of body and mind.
This gives us insight into the nature of our being.
If you would like to learn this, contact me and we will book a meditation lesson.
QiGong translates to “life energy cultivation”, which perfectly describes when the practice is all about.
Qi Gong is a mind body exercise that promotes health and well-being and that also give you a gentle workout.
The movements are slow and very controlled.
Whenever I practice Qi Gong I feel like seaweed swaying under a tide. It is a soothing and relaxing style of movement.
The National Qigong Association tells us,
“Qigong is an integration of physical postures, breathing techniques, and focused intentions. Qigong practices can be classified as martial, medical, or spiritual. All styles have three things in common: they all involve a posture, (whether moving or stationary), breathing techniques, and mental focus.”
Qi Gong is 2500 years old and over that time it has become a very detailed and in-depth system
. There are very many different QiGong moves, and much like yoga, it also incorporates specific breathing techniques that are used to nourish mind and body.
Because QiGong is so in-depth, it is best to learn from a book or DVD, or via the National QiGong Institute.
Tai Chi is very similar to QiGong, and for most intents and purposes the two can be grouped together.
There are some differences. But Tai Chi and Qigong are both about cultivating chi, both involve slow and gentle movements, and both are a form of dynamic meditation.
Probably the biggest difference to anyone in the West is that Tai Chi is currently more popular, so there are far more resources for learning tai chi than there are for Qigong.
The best way to think of Tai Chi is as a gentle and soothing exercise that creates mental and physical well-being.
The Tai Chi For Health Institute tells us,
The flowing movements of tai chi contain much inner strength, like water flowing in a river, beneath the tranquil surface there is a current with immense power—the power for healing and wellness.
If you are interested in learning Tai Chi, I highly recommend BodyWisdom Media’s Tai Chi For Beginners DVD. Pick up a copy here. http://amzn.to/2mQ7N7K
- A popular alternative Taoist practice is Feng Shui, which can complement meditation to produce very highly levels of positive energy.
In this guide to Taoist meditation we’ve looked at the best Taoist meditation techniques and how they can help as part of a healthy, conscious lifestyle.
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- Download this guide as a PDF.
Thanks for reading.