Taoism encompasses a wide range of practices from martial and healing arts, to yoga and meditation, to poetry, painting, calligraphy and geomancy, as well as methods for working with the Five Elements. All of them are ultimately contained within the teachings of the I Ching (Book of Changes). Although throughout the ages some Taoists have studied all aspects of Taoism, most certainly do not. Instead, each individual attunes to their path to what is relevant to their personal and spiritual development. That said there are core techniques which all Taoists train. They can be classified in three categories: the 16 nei gong, Five Element practices and I Ching arts.
Last year, my colleague Dan Kleiman of Qigong Radio interviewed me on my experiences as a life coach and teaching energy arts like tai chi since 1995. He wanted to find out if I had any insight into how to improve practice and teaching results of students and teachers alike. I shared with him four qualities of the mind I see crop up time and again in successful students. The New Year is a great time to reconsider these influential factors as many of us are naturally more open to creating positive changes.
Of the several thousand forms of qi gong, only a few are as simple yet penetrate the body and chi as deeply as the Marriage of Heaven and Earth Qi Gong. This single, repetitive exercise can contain a colossal amount of internal and energetic content with each thread amplifying and multiplying all others. The benefits from correct, integrated and fluid practice— along with the potential weaves, depth and range possible within each layer—lead those in-the-know to regard Heaven and Earth as nothing less than pure magic.
This 10-minute guided breathing exercise was recorded on my 2011 Crete retreat. It’s an easy breathing practice, particularly good for beginners, that covers some of the primary points you want to focus on when you come to sit.
The 16 nei gong create the structure, content and principles that guide all Tao meditation and energy arts, forming the science of how the body, mind and qi can be developed and integrated to their full potential. Taoists used meditation practices over thousands of years to go inside themselves and discover what was there.
Through this long history of practice and direct perception, they developed the nei gong system as a method for cleansing the human physical and energetic bodies. The process entails removing all blocks, kinks, knots and reconnecting any breaks or holes within the human energetic matrix. Therefore, we do not create a nei gong weave but, in essence, are a nei gong weave. Taoist practices are about repairing and developing that which exists naturally within us.