Chinese Meditation

Chinese Meditation

CHINESE MEDITATION : Taoist Meditation and Qigong Meditation

Taoist Meditation

History & Significance 

Daoism is a Chinese philosophy and religion, dating back to Lao Tzu (Laozi). It`s main purpose is to live in harmony with Nature, or Tao, and it`s main text is Tao Te Ching, dating back to 6th century B.C. Some lineages of Taoism were also influenced, late on, by Buddhist meditation practices, brought from India on the 8th century C.E..

The final purpose of this meditation is the generation, transformation and circulation of inner energy. The goal is to quieten the body and mind, unify body and spirit, find inner peace and harmonize with the Tao (Nature). As a result, some adaptations of Taoist Meditation focus their attention specially on improving health and giving longevity.

How do I practice?

Generally, the Taoist meditations are of three categories: “insight”, “concentrative” and “visualization”. Here is a short description :

Emptiness meditation – is about sitting quietly and empty all mental images (feelings and thoughts), to “reset and forget”, in order to experience inner quiet and emptiness. In this state, vital force and “spirit” is collected and replenished. This is similar to the Confucius discipline of “heart-mind fasting”. You have to allow all thoughts and sensation arise and fall by themselves, without engaging with any of them. If you find this practice hard or uninteresting, you can try other types of meditation, such as visualization and Qigong.

Breathing meditation (Zhuanqi) – is about focusing on the breath, or the unification of mind and qi. The goal is to focus your vital breath until it is supremely soft. Sometimes this is done by quietly observing the breath (like Mindfulness Meditation in Buddhism). On the other hand, some traditions follow certain patterns of exhalation and inhalation, using ascending and descending breath (a type of Qigong, similar to Pranayama in Yoga).

Neiguan (inner vision)- is about visualizing inside your body and your mind, including the organs, qi (vital force) movements, and also thought process. This practice blesses yourself with the wisdom of nature in your body. There are particular instructions for following this practice, and you need a good teacher or a book.

The position for these meditations is seated cross-legged on the floor, with spine erect. Also, keep the eyes half-closed and fix them on the point of the nose.

Also, according to master Liu Sichuan, the best practice is by “joining the breath and the mind together”. If you find it difficult, I suggest you to focus on the lower abdomen

Learn more:

Practical information

Wikipedia article on the History of Daoism

Do I need this meditation?

To conclude, if you are in sync with the body and with nature, you might like Taoist meditation, and enjoy learning about the philosophy behind it. This practice might be of your interest if you are into martial arts or Tai Chi. Taoist centers and teachers are not as easy to find as Buddhist and Yoga ones, so it might be a challenge to follow through.

 

Qigong (Chi kung)

Qigong Meditation

Qigong Meditation

History & Significance 

Qigong is a Chinese word that means “life energy cultivation”, and it is a body-mind exercise for health, meditation and martial arts training. It involves slow body movement, regulated breath and inner focus. Traditionally it was practiced and taught in secrecy in the Chinese Buddhist, Taoist and Confucius traditions. Also, Qigong movement popularized Daoist meditation, in the 20th century, using exercises that favors the circulation of energy in an inner alchemical mode.

If you want to study more about Qigong theory, history and philosophy, I recommend  The Root of Chinese Qigong: Secrets of Health, Longevity, & Enlightenment

How do I practice?

There are thousands of different Qigong exercises , involving over 80 different types of breathing. Some are specific to martial arts (to energize and strengthen the body), others are for health (cure diseases). Others are simply for meditation and spiritual cultivation. Therefore, Qigong can be practiced both in a static position, seated or standing, or through a dynamic set of movements. The second approach is what you see on YouTube videos or on DVDs. The exercises that are done as a meditation, are done sitting down, without movement.

I made an introductory overview of the practice of seated Qigong meditation, but if you want to learn more about the practice, feel free to get your own Qigong Meditation: Small Circulation book copy or DVD set from Dr. Yang Jwing Ming:

Sit in a comfortable position and make sure your body is balanced and centered.

Relax your whole body – muscles, nerves and internal organs.

Regulate your breathing, making it deep, long and soft.

Calm your mind.

First of all, place all your attention to the center of gravity of the body, or the “lower dantien”, two inches below the navel (sacral chakra). This will help you accumulate and root the qi (vital energy) also. The qi goes with your focus, to your thoughts and mind. So, by focusing on your gravity center, you are accumulating energy to this natural reservoir.

Then feel the qi circulating freely through your body.

Other well-known Qigong practiced exercises are:

Small Circulation (or “microcosmic circulation”)

Embryonic Breathing

Eight Pieces of Brocade (Wikipedia article)

Muscle Tendon Changing (“Yi Jin Jing” , taught by Bodhidharma).

The first two are seated exercises, while the last two are dynamic Qigong, integrating body stretches.

Learn more:

Wikipedia article on Qigong

Yang Jwing Ming DVDs

The Qigong Institute

Qigong Forum

Do I need this meditation?

To conclude, Qigong meditation may be interesting for people who like to integrate a more active body into the practice. So, if you are not a big fan of seated meditation, and you prefer something a bit more active, try some dynamic forms of Qigong. There are different types of Qigong, so you may want to try the learning of it with different teachers or DVDs, to find the matching practice for you.

Therefore, some people who like dynamic exercises, practice Tai Chi.

Related articles:

Hindu Meditation :Mantra and Transcendental Meditation

Hindu Meditation :Self-Enquiry and Yoga Meditation

Buddhist Meditation :Zazen and Vipassana Meditation

Buddhist Meditation : Metta and Mindfulness Meditation