My name is Andrew and I'm a long time fan of this forum, especially the posts of my main man Drew Hempel. It was first my girlfriend (now wife) and then Drew who introduced me to Taoism, first through the Paul Pitchford book, Healing with Whole Foods, and then through yoga and philosophy. I have had some wild experiences in terms of pain threshold and base much of my practice revolves around what I have read in Taoist Yoga: Alchemy and Immortality (on recommendation of Drew) and Spring Forest Qi Gong. Interestingly enough, I read The Magus of Java shortly before the youtube craze hit and we were all able to see John Chang performing for Lawrence Blair, though my wife likes the videos of Effie Chow a lot better, and would like to meet Dr. Chow and learn Qi Gong from her. My wife also practices Reiki. I simply try to follow the steps in Taoist Yoga (like a cookbook, as Drew suggests) and sit in full-lotus a lot each day. I pay very close attention to the words of Chunyi Lin as I believe he reveals a great deal while being respectful of his own tradition and western traditions. In a perhaps unrelated note, I have also read a lot of hypnosis literature on trances and trance-formation, and follow Drew's lead on the shamanic angle as well (Beyond Telepathy by Andrija Puharich and Women Like Meat by Megan Biesele are two of my super favorites that I would highly recommend).
Independently, I have extensive experience with Neuro-Linguistic Programming and the study and practice of Ericksonian Hypnosis, which prior to 2000 I used to self-treat my own clinical depression and suicidal tendencies, which have since become a thing of the past. While it is true that these "pseudo sciences" as many would have them rely heavily on what Drew calls "cultural mores," I liken the more to a moire as an example of what precisely Bandler and Erickson were onto, and Gregory Bateson to boot, who Drew does acknowledge in his Master's Thesis, and who was really leaning more towards the Taoist angle when he wrote Mind and Nature: a Necessary Unity (which I re-interpret with mind as yin and nature as yang). Similarly, I recently got to reading a lot of Marshall McCluhan, who seemed onto the ancient work of pythagoras in some regard with his later fixation on the "Tetrad" (with 2:3 as yang and 3:4 yin). Of course Chunyi Lin also says "life has no patterns" which I believe to be true - and when I as a human being map similarity onto a world of difference too minute for me to comprehend I believe I do so only out of my own human fallibility, making NLP, in essence, a concession to that fallibility.
The curious part, though, to me, is how many NLP practitioners have now shifted to emphasize the lower dantien as a "kinesthetic center" and how the NLP eye movement patterns may correspond to internal feelings, sounds or pictures (or externally percieved feelings, sounds or pictures) in conjunction with the "eye rolling" techniques ever-present in Taoist Yoga: Alchemy and Immortality. This ties in to Drew's mission insofar as I, too, am concerned with easing the practice of Qi Gong away from utterly formalist settings so that it may be more accessible and understandable for any individual. After all, Chunyi Lin seems intent on fashioning Spring Forest Qi Gong to this end; ironically, at many points in Taoist Yoga, it is abundantly apparent that obscurantism plays a pivotal role in order to prevent any random person from simply grasping, and potentially perverting, these sacred traditions.
If I appear to think too highly of Drew and his work, please know it is only because I share most of his beliefs and hold him in great esteem because of his activism and other achievements, and I revere his interactions with Master Lin. Personally, I also find from experience that everything he has written about full lotus is true for me when I sit in full lotus at length. I more and more often now experience a pulsating in my right side vagus nerve, and many of the strange reactions with females that have ensued (whether they would qualify for "O at a D" status or not) have definitely been things I can feel in my body - and have complicated things with my wife!!!
When I first started practicing, and learned about many of the extraordinary things that some of the masters like John Chang have done, I wanted to do them all. Now, I simply want to experience the health and security with some measure of comfort and well-being that a more "normal" life affords. This is where NLP tools help me; for instance, last night I had been sitting in full lotus for a couple of hours after essentially spending all day Friday and half of Saturday in full lotus meditating. Then, at about 8 pm, a massive thunderstorm hit and I started to feel completely wild. It was like there was the "boiling n'um" inside of me, and I get this way at times after I've been in full lotus a lot and the legs go completely numb. I feel like there's a fire inside of my brain that won't go out, and nothing that I can do short of physically deadening my senses either through copious amounts of alcohol or physical violence can bring me comfort. Three years ago, I tried the former method, until one day I nearly drank myself to death; there was so much pain, and for some reason a great roaring in my ears that started and wouldn't cease. I was afraid that if I lived, I was going to lose all my hearing. I had no job at the time, and so I lay down outside in the middle of the woods for two or three days and lost complete track of time.
After that, I felt the powerful need to still myself through physical violence to my own head, and still the tendencies must be quashed. Strangely, these tendencies were inherent in my behavior as a child and my mom weeded them out of me as she always said "use your words (instead)" - phonetic language - and were only rekindled in 2000 after I received a serious concussion, after which I was unable to speak coherent English for a period of time despite my attempts (the event was captured on video and I still marvel at it when I see myself on camera making futile attempts at language after having recovered consciousness).
Anyway, probably far more than anyone cared to know, although who better to use as case studies but ourselves? Thank you for reading my introduction.