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About asbc_tao

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  1. Taoist microcosmic orbit vs kundalini yoga

    I hear you. I also started with Chia's books and probably wouldn't have taken up Taoist practice if it wasn't for them. But I've come to see their limitations. They are too pragmatic and go too fast, as if just visualizing or thinking about the energy can move it within the body. That said though, Chia does give a clear and straightforward map of the energy system and that's helped me. And like someone said, energy does follow intention, so placing the mind on the energy centers ought to be the first step. Maybe Chia is too yang in his approach? Later I found the books of Damo Mitchell. His approach is the opposite, very yin. He is much more philosophical than Chia. He emphasizes patience and persistent work and letting the energy movements happen in their own time. I can relate to this in my practice. I also started my energy journey with Kundalini meditation. Later the Governing channel portion of the MCO came pretty naturally to me. I'd already had experience with pulsation in the head and third eye, so the 'elevating' motion of energy from the tailbone was somewhat familiar. Some points along the front felt easily open too, like the Sea of Chi and the perineum. With time though I found that I have significant blockages along the front, especially in the base of the throat, heart and solar plexus areas. Blockages along the back have emerged too, for example at C7 and along the whole thoracic spine. Learning about the three granthis (from Hinduism) helped me understand some of what's going on here. I've learned that physical movement is hugely important to open energy flow. Chi Gong movements were helpful for me, though only up to a point. It's turning out that I have deeper problems with posture that are causing my chi to stagnate. These problems are caused by muscle imbalance from long years of poor posture sitting at the computer, driving a car, etc. Basically, as the shoulders and neck slump forward the centers in the front get depressed while the back centers get over-extended. As the pelvis tilts abnormally the lower back gets depressed and the lower front centers over-extended (in my case). The ordinary Chi Gong that I've tried are in a way 'too light' and not targeted enough to address these deeper issues. Recently I came across Chia's Craniosacral Chi-Kung and that's been a huge help. I've also researched the cross syndromes (upper and lower cross syndrome - the names for these postural problems) and exercises I can do to reverse them. As I've been doing this work over the last 2 months, the energy flow has increased significantly, both up and down. I've also benefited from opening the heart center using Buddhist loving-kindness meditation. And then integrating the open heart into the MCO. Kristin Neff's self-compassion meditation (which is Buddhism-based) has helped me a lot here. I think the heart is a guiding force in the downward movement of energy along the front, just as the craniosacral pump moves energy up along the spine. An open heart free of attachment should therefore help the grounding downward movement. I find that attachment (for example to people or TV) pulls the heart energy up towards the eyes, creating upward pressure along the front - rather than down towards the kidneys and lower dantian as in the MCO. As well, sexual conservation and semen retention (if you're male) is important. I find that as semen/jing builds up, it puts energetic pressure up the spine at the tailbone, which translates into pressure from the crown down the front. The end result is stronger flow and an ability to ground more easily. In contrast, as jing is depleted it pulls energy down the spine and up the front, in effect reversing the MCO direction and draining the flow. Diaphragm work has also helped me strengthen my flow. Here I tried a meditation alternating ocean breath (yin) and breath of fire (yang) in succession, and it had good benefits for my flow. The diaphragm (combined with reverse-belly breathing and good posture) activates a pump in the middle of the spine that strengthens overall flow along the Orbit. Recently I've also started getting acupuncture to help move my stagnating chi. I'm discovering a blockage in the head area near the crown, for example. As this blockage clears I'm feeling a downward movement into the face. For you the patterns may be different, but it may be worth a try. Community Acupuncture clinics offer a reasonable service at a good cost (and some health insurance plans cover it). The bottom line from what I've learned is that energy blockages and stagnation have multiple aspects to them - physical, emotional, mental, interpersonal. I think the more of these you address, the stronger your flow will be.
  2. Hello Daobums, I'm wondering what Taoism has to say about the left-right polarity. Can you folks help me? From my readings so far, it looks that Taoism goes to a lot of depth on two spatial polarities: the up-down and the front-back. The first appears as the duality of heaven and earth. You find the second in the Microcosmic Orbit, with the contrast between the Conception and Governing meridians. In each case one side is yin (Earth, Conception meridian) and the other is yang (Heaven, Governing meridian). But what about the left and right? One place I find it is in the contrast between the Liver on the right (which is yang) and the Spleen on the left (which some consider to be yin, though others say is neutral). In his book on craniosacral chi-kung Mantak Chia says the heart has a left and right aspect too. And of course so does the brain. As far as I know, the thrusting meridian has a left and right (and central) channel, and each of the 12 standard meridians is mirrored on both sides. But what I'm not seeing is a clear-cut way of interpreting left and right in Taoism. By contrast, take the Tree of Life from the Kabbalah: There the left-right polarity maps very clearly onto the two pillars: the Pillar of Severity/Justice (left brain, right body) and Pillar of Mercy (right brain, left body). The left and right attach to very specific moral qualities/attitudes. And you have strong emphasis on left/right in the Hinduist system, with the Ida and Pingala weaving around the Sushumna. Or in some systems there is a sideways orbit that goes left-right rather than forward-back as the MO does. Does Taoism put less emphasis on the left-right split? If so why? If not how do we think of left-right in Taoism? Do they simply correspond to yin and yang? Is there any other meaning that attaches to the left/right duality? Are there any Taoist meditations that help to unify the left and right and create a 'middle pillar'? I've tried running the Microcosmic Orbit sideways, but it's not the same. I'm not even sure what points would be included in a 'sideways' orbit. And in Kan-Li meditation you can sometimes feel the upper and lower regions (head and pelvis - heaven and earth) come into contact at the heart. But what about left and right? Thanks.
  3. Hi all, I'm trying to understand the relationship between the lesser yin/yang and the greater yin/yang in the Wu Xing system. I know that the elements are arranged along the continuum like this: Greater yin - Lesser yin - Neutral - Lesser yang - Greater yang Water - Metal - Earth - Wood - Fire I know there is something significant about the pairs Metal-Wood and Water-Fire. I'm trying to understand this better and any help would be appreciated. I know that the Kan-Li meditation focuses on exchanging the places of Water and Fire to reach their unity. And also that Metal and Wood house the spirits of Po and Hun respectively, which are the two aspects of the soul. Whereas the heart and kidneys house the Shen and Zhi. If Hun and Po combine to form the complete soul, what does the combination of Shen and Zhi generate? Is this perhaps the spirit? If so, what is the relationship between soul and spirit? One thing that confuses me is that the animal symbols for Kan-Li (Fire-Water) meditation are actually those for the Wood and Metal elements - the green dragon and white tiger. So it looks like both the lesser and the greater yin/yang pairs are involved in Kan-Li steaming. Would somebody explain what their relationship is? I found this quote from Michael Winn on the transformation that happens during the Kan-Li (lesser enlightenment): "The Five vital organ spirits of heart-mind (xin) transmute into the Three primal soul forces (ling). These Three forces – Primal Water, Primal Fire, and Primal Earth – produce the Golden Elixir, the divine seed-egg, our Immortal Embryo, that will mature into our Inner Sage." ( Here's how I'm reading the quote: As the lesser yin/yang of Po and Hun (Metal and Wood) combine the five spirits are reduced to three primal forces (ling). At this point the combination shifts to the greater yin/yang of Li and Kan (Water and Fire), leading to the Golden Elixir and eventually the Inner Sage. Does this make sense to others? In part I'm asking to understand my own emotional experience. A few years ago I went through intense periods of anger and grief, which I know are the imbalanced emotions of Hun and Po. After working through them, I began to see more clearly my attachments and fears (the emotions corresponding to the heart and kidneys - Shen and Zhi). Somehow these had been obscure before, and I wonder if this isn't because I was at the stage of the lesser Kan-Li enlightenment, where Hun and Po are at issue. Any input would be very helpful. Thanks.
  4. New to the community

    @Marblehead and @Bill, thanks for the welcome!
  5. New to the community

    Hello everyone, Glad to join the forum! I've been practicing Taoist exercises and learning the philosophy for about a year and a half. I've learned a lot and made some mistakes along the way. So far I've kept my practice private, but recently I decided it's time to change this and reach out to the community. I have a few questions about The Dao Bums: What's a good way to get introduced to the forum? Is there a list of rules that I can read? (the ones I found tell me I don't have permission to access them). What is a good way to share the details of my Taoist journey so far? If I have specific questions (say about Kan Li meditation, or about the spiritual interactions of the organs) how should I go about asking them? Is there a place where people keep regular journals of their spiritual journey? It would be great to read about other people's on-going experience and post about my own. Thanks! asbc