“Meditation can rewire brain circuits.”
—Scientific American (November 2014)*
Relaxation Training for the Body & Mind
Many people talk about meditation, but what does it really mean to meditate? Tao meditation practices are about systematically releasing everything inside of you that prevents you from experiencing the life you really want to live. In the Water tradition of Taoism (for which I teach the secular practices), we attempt to cultivate the “way of water”, developing mind-body skills to yield and blend with all forms of change–the one constant in our life.
The ancient Chinese had a simple philosophy: they said that as we let go of negative emotions, destructive thought patterns and other blockages in our mind-body-energy, all we are left to do is feel freer and more at ease with life. And, when we do, it becomes much easier to achieve whatever we set our minds to–whether health, healing, our sports and hobbies, work or spiritual pursuits.
Secular Taoist Meditation: Pragmatic Methodology for Modern Living
Taoism is distinctly pragmatic with introductory training rooted in developing the physical body and the energy that powers the physical body, known as “qi” in the East. The clear directive, whether practised for stress relief, health and healing, martial arts or meditation, is: You are here on this planet and you have a physical body, so during meditation (or any Tao arts practice) you should remain present to your body first and foremost. This outlook prevents the mind from drifting into a sea of delusion as the body serves as a steadfast anchor in reality.
Two Stages of Tao Meditation
There are two stages within Tao meditation that must be developed in sequence to ensure desired results are achievable and that you don’t squander your time, effort or energy. The first stage includes the preparatory and beginning practices, while the second includes more advanced practices.
Non-religious, Preparatory + Beginning Meditation Practices
- Correct postural alignments while sitting, standing and moving
- Becoming present to your whole body
- Taoist whole-body breathing techniques
- Developing focus, awareness and the ability to concentrate
- Generating deep relaxation.
- Learning the Outer Dissolving method.**
- Releasing the base negative emotions and restoring emotional well-being
** The Dissolving process is a nei gong technique for releasing bound energy from within the body as well as the etheric field, often referred to as the “aura” in the West.
Advanced Meditation Practices
- Resolving deeper emotional and mental issues within yourself
- Developing the higher emotions, such as kindness and compassion
- Opening to your spiritual path by actively clearing the psychic and karmic aspects that comprise your being
- Entering into Emptiness (often called “Enlightenment” in the West)
All goals of the second stage of meditation are initiated through practice of the Inner Dissolving process.
By developing the first stage of meditation, you create the possibility (but no obligation) to develop the second; however, to develop the second stage, it is an absolute prerequisite to develop the first. Also, your efficiency in the first stage of meditation governs how successful you can be in the second stage.
I teach the complete programme of secular (non-religious) practices that comprise the first stage of Tao meditation in live courses and one-to-one coaching. Students of all religious backgrounds are welcome.
Relaxation + Stress Management
Whatever your reasons for meditating and to make it possible to achieve any goal you set for yourself, you must begin with some foundational techniques to develop your powers of:
- Presence – training your mind in ways that prevent it from wandering through past experiences or making future plans, so you can remain in the here and now;
- Awareness – developing your ability to tune into, feel and know what needs changing;
- Focus – honing and directing your awareness; and
- Concentration – striving to remain present, focused and aware continuously.
These four primary skills are necessary to develop for any kind of meditation practice–whether you choose to engage in Taoist methods or others. They can bring about and cultivate deep states of relaxation, and relaxation is the key that unlocks the deeper, more profound potential of the mind.
Tao whole-body breathing techniques provide a gateway to meditation and a simple, effective means for developing the four primary skills of meditation. And, activating your diaphragm while breathing into your belly (along with a few additional “technical” considerations) can be one of the best methods for maintaining overall health and well-being.
- Learn more about Taoist breathing
- Read blogs on Tao meditation
- Find a breathing or meditation course near you
* Quote credit – Richard, Matthieu, Lutz, Antoine, Davidson, Richard J, “Mind of the meditator: Contemplative practices that extend back thousands of years show a multitude of benefits for both body and mind”, Scientific American (November 2014), pp. 23-29.