Principles From The Tai Shih Ching

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The embryo is generated from the hidden or undeveloped Chi.

Chi comes from the modulated breathing of the embryo.

When Chi enters the body-life. When Spirit leaves the body and the embryo disperses-death.

Knowing Spirit and Chi makes a long life possible. Protect and nourish the imaginary embryo to build up Spirit and Chi.

When Spirit moves, the Chi moves; where Spirit stops, the Chi stops.

To have a long life, Spirit and Chi must mutually interact.

When the heart (mind) is not dispersed, not a thought goes or comes.

When thoughts are not going and coming, nature is.

The true way to approach this goal is through hard work.

Over thousands of years of experience, Chinese meditators found that through practice they could retrain the abdominal muscles and regain a stronger flow of Chi. This exercise is called "Back to Childhood" (Fan Ton). Principally, when the muscles in the area are exercised, the nerves and Chi channels will start to accumulate the energy which has been generated by the exercise. This kind of energy generation and accumulation is called "Starting the Fire" or "Chi For". It is enhanced by concentrating the mind strongly on this activity. Later, it was found that in the Chi For exercise, the breathing must be coordinated in order to exercise the muscles efficiently and regularly. Also, this regular breathing coordination helps the meditator to concentrate his mind on the exercise. As explained in Chapter 1, the mind can control the Chi's generation and circulation. Therefore, in meditation, one should concentrate his mind at the Dan Tien, which is called "Yi Sou Dan Tien", or "the mind always stays with the Dan Tien".

Because it is a principle of Chinese meditation that the Dan Tien is the source of Chi circulation, beginning training is centered around this spot. The first thing to learn to do is to control the abdominal muscles, making them expand and contract at will, so that the lower abdomen rises and falls like a baby's. This "Back to Childhood" exercise can be done by simply practicing frequently. Usually after one month of practicing 30 minutes daily, a person can accomplish this control. With continued practice, the exercise will generate more and more energy. By keeping the mind concentrated on the Dan Tien, the energy will concentrate there. When the accumulated Chi is strong enough, the meditator should be able to feel warmth in the Dan Tien area.

This back to childhood abdominal exercise will confer several benefits. First, the up and down motion of the abdominal muscles during deep breathing will massage the stomach and intestines as well as exercise the muscles holding the internal organs in place, and will increase their strength. This is the reason why deep breathing exercise can cure hernias, which are caused by weakness of the internal muscles. Second, exercising the abdominal muscles will generate Chi not only for circulation, but also directly for the organs held and surrounded by these muscles. This Chi supply plus the increased blood circulation keeps the organs healthy. Finally, the deep breathing uses the lungs to their fullest capacity, thereby strengthening and cleaning them.

If the meditator continues for another two to three weeks after the Dan Tien feels warm, he will then feel the muscles trembling or tingling. It is the accumulation of Chi in the nerves and Chi channels which causes the muscles to be out of control. This phenomenon is called "Don Chu" or Movement Sensing, in meditation. (As a matter of fact, the term "Don Chu" is used in meditation for any kind of perceptible phenomenon caused by Chi flow, redistribution, or overaccumulation. The most common experiences are itching, tingling or twitching of isolated muscles, or uncontrollable shaking of the whole body). When the lower abdominal muscles begin to vibrate, it is time to guide the energy or-Chi to start its circulation. Concentration at this moment is extremely important. The meditator should be very calm and should not get excited by the Don Chu feeling. This phenomenon, however, does not happen to every meditator. For some the first cycling cavities are already open and the Chi will move through them without Don Chu happening.

Before going further, a meditator should understand first what the Chi cycling route or path is. As mentioned, there are two main vessels which are located on the front and back of the body (Figs. 3-3 and 3-4). The front vessel is called the Conception Vessel (Ren Mei), which contains the Yin circulation. This vessel starts from the lower lip and extends down the front center of the body to the Sea Bottom cavity (Hai Di) between the scrotum or vagina and the anus. This cavity is called Huiyin{Yin Intersection) in acupuncture. The vessel on the back is called the Governing Vessel or Du Mei, and contains the Yang circulation. It starts from the Sea Bottom and follows the spine, passes up the back and over the top of the head and ends at the roof of the mouth. These two vessels are not connected at the top. However, when the tongue touches the roof of the mouth cavity, the Yin and Yang vessels are connected and the circuit is complete. This tongue touch is called "Da Chiao"or building the bridge. The tongue acts like a switch in an electrical circuit. If this bridge is not built, the circuit is not complete and the Chi circulation will be incomplete. Therefore, when a person meditates either in Wai Dan or in Nei Dan, he should keep his tongue touching the roof of the mouth all the time. Of course, everyone frequently touches the roof of the mouth with his tongue during everyday activities. However, in meditation, a continuous circuit is important. The tongue should be relaxed and lightly touch the center of the roof of the mouth (Fig. 3-5). If the tongue is tight, it will result in stagnation of the Chi flow. Also, the tongue should not touch the teeth, which will not connect the bridge efficiently, and very often makes the meditator feel sleepy. On the other hand the tongue should not be stretched to touch the back of the roof of the mouth. This will make the tongue muscles tight and sore and will also stagnate the Chi flow. If a meditator creates the tongue bridge properly, he will feel saliva secreted during meditation. He should swallow it to keep his throat moist. The spot on the center of the roof of the mouth where the tongue touches is called the "Tien Tzie" (Heaven's Pond), or "Lung Chuan" (Dragon Spring).

When the student can circulate the Chi through the two major vessels, he has completed the "Small Circulation" (Shao Chou Tien). Usually, if one meditates three times a day for half an hour with the right method, he can complete this circulation in 90 days. However, it is not uncommon for a person to take longer. The time needed to accomplish this depends on the degree to

Deep Breathing For Energy

which a person can concentrate, relax, understand the techniques and principles, and feel the Chi flow. It is very important that a meditator should not try to hurry the process, because this will make the circulation worse and might be dangerous.

The reader should understand that the Chi has been circulating all the time in his body. However, the Chi circulation can become stagnant or slow. The reason for this is that in the vessels and Chi channels there are many knots at which the channels are narrower or harder to penetrate. Usually, these knots are located at cavities. The main purpose of Nei Dan meditation is to open or widen these knots and enable the Chi to flow without stagnation. When Chi is stagnant and does not flow smoothly, a person will soon feel sick and the related organ will become weakened. When the Chi channels are open the arteries

Changqiang

Changqiang (Acupuncture) Huiyin

Changqiang (Acupuncture) Huiyin

Fig. 3-4. Course of Du Mei will be open also and will allow the blood to flow smoothly. This is because the arteries usually follow the Chi channels. For this reason, the meditator will be able to cure high blood pressure.

In Nei Dan Small Circulation, there are three cavities or knots (see Fig. 3-4) which are harder to pass through than the others, and might cause difficulties. These are called the "San Guan"or Three Gates. The first cavity is called "Wei Lu" by the Taoists and "Changqiang"by the acupuncturists. It is located at

Fig. 3-5. Tongue Position the tailbone. The second is called "Jar Gi"or "Ming Men" (Life's Door) by Taoists and "Lingtai" (Spiritual Tower) by acupuncturists. The last cavity is called "Yu Gen"(Jade Pillow) by Taoists and "Naohu"(Brain Door) by acupuncturists, and is located at the base of the skull. Further explanation of these three cavities will be given in the next section. These spots offer the greatest resistance to increased Chi flow and so are the three major milestones for judging progress in achieving the Small Circulation.

In controlling the Chi's movement in the circulation, the meditator should be able to feel that something is flowing, following the guidance of his mind. However, a meditator can also feel the back muscles beside the vessel expanding and tensing. This expanding feeling will not happen when the Chi goes above the Jade Pillow cavity at the back of the head. Instead, the meditator will feel only the energy or Chi flow, since there is no thick muscle on the head for the meditator to feel. The usual feeling of Chi flow on the head is local numbness or tickling, as though insects were brushing the skull.

During meditation, a meditator may naturally swing or move his body forward and backward. Sometimes he will feel a muscle jump or contract by itself. These are all symptoms of Don Chu caused by Chi redistribution. There is nothing to be alarmed about; this is all normal.

Once a meditator has accomplished the Small Circulation, he will then try to master the "Grand Circulation" which will circulate the energy to the entire body through the twelve Chi channels. Usually a meditator will either concentrate only on his arms or only on his legs first and then go to the other limbs. However, it is also common for the meditator, once he completes the Small Circulation, to practice guiding the Chi to the upper and lower limbs simultaneously and to imagine Chi expanding from the two main vessels.

Template Flower Petals

Fig. 3-6. Abdominal Motion During Breathing

Taoist:

B- Inhale A- Exhale

Buddhist: A- Inhale B-Exhale

Fig. 3-6. Abdominal Motion During Breathing

In the next section, both Buddhist and Taoist meditation methods will be discussed. Before a beginner starts his meditation, he should read this and the following sections repeatedly, until he is sure he understands them.

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