Nathan Brine

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  1. Wang Liping Article/Method for Boosting Weiqi

    Hold Breath is stopping the breath on the inhale when the lungs are full. Cease Breath is stopping the breath on the exhale when the lungs are empty.
  2. Hey bums! Due to the Coronavirus my teacher asked me to translate and share around the following article. I wasn't sure where to publish it, but though you guys might find it of interest. It details a breathing method to boost defensive qi (weiqi) and help restore the body after an illness. The method is a little intense so be careful with it. Make sure when breathing out to complete release and relax the body. Moving Jing to Change into Qi: A Method for Restoring Health from the Yellow Emperor’s Inner Classic From a talk by Wang Liping Written by Hu Qiao Translated by Nathan Brine The Yellow Emperor’s Inner Classic can be split into medicine based on human physiology, and medicine based on scientific inquiry into the relationship between humans and the cosmos. With the later, the Inner Classic discusses how people can stay healthy and live longer by understanding the correct time and space to do things, and the relationship between people and things. When external disturbances do enter, such as wind and cold, the inside of the body might go through some small adjustments, but will we not get sick. The Inner Classic also pays particular attention to what a person should do if they are already ill. The Body’s Order of Life (人體生命之續 renti shengming zhi xu) is an important concept that arose out of medical research into organ function. The Order of Life refers to energetic processes in the body. In the old days, when illness had been basically cured after a serious illness or epidemic, there was still the issue of rebalancing The Body’s Order of Life. No matter if the person is still sick or not, there will be traces of the illness left behind. Mind and body, energy channels, and internal organs etc. will all be damaged to some extent. Therefore, we need to work with the four stages needed to rebalance the mind and body and bring The Body’s Order of Life back to normal. The Four Stages Rebalance (調整 tiaozheng) Condition (調理 tiaoli) Repair (修復 xiufu) Rehabilitation (康復 kangfu) In the rebalance stage, we follow the cycles of heaven and earth to rebalance daily life. We use the outer world, such as medicine and food etc., to rebalance internal energetic function (jing-qi, blood-qi etc.). Gradually, the Body’s Order is restored. In the condition stage, the emphasis is on rebalancing a person’s mental state and mood. In the repair stage, the focus is on repairing the harm done to the internal organs and energy system. At this time, The Body’s Order has already been restored to normal, but because of experiencing an epidemic, a person’s whole body will be weak, thus we will need to repair each internal organ one by one. In the rehabilitation stage, people can work to recover the body by doing baduanjin, tendon changing practice, tai chi etc. to nourish vitality and return to full health. During the repair stage we must make our body’s jing-qi (essence, vital energy) full, and bring the blood-qi back to normal. At this time we must use the yi jing bian qi 移精變炁 (Move Jing to Change into Qi) method. Yi jing bian qi is an ancient method using yinian (意念 intention/awareness), yishi (意識 consciousness), and shenyi (神意 energy of our spirit and intention together) to move the jing-qi and blood-qi to rebalance the energy channels, internal organs, and surface of the skin etc. Thereby returning the disarray of the body’s energy system back into a state of ordered homeostasis. In the old days, yi jing bian qi was divided into three stages: Use yinian to regulate the movement of the torso and four limbs to replenish jing-qi, to bring us back to normal in terms of daily activity. Use yinian and yishi to rebalance breathing and the movement of the torso and four limbs, allowing jing-qi and blood-qi to flow unobstructed. This will soften the breathing, still the mind, and relax the body. Use yinian, yishi, and shenyi to regulate the movement of jing-qi and blood-qi in our body. By using our yishi to regulate our qi, we will restore internal organ function, open energy channels, and allow the body’s entire energy system to run smoothly. This process reestablishes the Body’s Order of Life. Yi jing bian qi has many techniques. Initially we recommend a Taoist technique to rebalance the upper and lower parts of the torso, what medical practitioners call the upper and lower burners. There are four methods to rebalance the upper and lower burners: standing posture, stool-sitting posture, cross-legged sitting posture, and moving posture. How to do the three static postures (including how to use the yishi, yinian, shenqi, and shenyi) are all the same. For now, let’s discuss the three static postures. Standing Posture Use the wuji standing post posture. Stand naturally, feet shoulder width apart or a bit wider, both arms hanging naturally at our side with shoulders, arms, elbows, and wrists all relaxed, palms facing inwards, spine straight, chest relaxed, the two kua 胯 (two insides of the groin area) relaxed, two knees bent slightly, and two feet firmly planted on ground. Stool-Sitting Posture Sit on a stool with two feet naturally hanging down or touching the ground. Fingers naturally open, palms facing down, lightly placed on top of knees. This hand posture is called “Peaceful Form.” Cross-legged Sitting Posture Sit on a cushion or floor with legs crossed in front. Palms of both hands facing down on our knees. Relax whole body. After settling into our chosen posture, use both eyes to look straight ahead, look afar, the farther the better. Put yinian in the distance. Slowly bring the light of our spirit (神光 shenguang) from the horizon back to between our eyebrows. Slowly close our eyes. First, become still. Put yinian on our breathing. Make our breathing fine, even, and long. Inhale and exhale evenly. Slowly let our physical body relax. Let our heart beat more calmly. Practice Regulate Upper Burner Step 1. Breathe In Take a deep breath with our nose. Put yinian in our chest cavity and lungs. As we breathe in contract tightly. Let the qi reach the chest cavity and lungs (this is called Qi Fills the Metal Chamber). Breathe in until we cannot breathe in anymore. Do our best to also tightly contract the ribs. Hold Breath Now, do not breathe. While holding our breath, use yinian to expand the ribs, chest cavity, and lungs forcefully, at the same time let the spine become straight and centred. Hold it for a bit. Breathe Out Slowly exhale through nose (or nose and mouth together). As we exhale relax ribs, chest cavity, lungs, spine and whole body. Completely expel the old air from the lungs. Step 2. Breathe In Again, take a deep breath with our nose, use yinian and yishi to tightly contract the chest cavity and lungs. Do our best to fully inhale, filling the tips and lower parts of the lungs. Hold Breath Do not breathe. While holding our breath, figure out how to use yinian and yishi to expand our lungs, ribs, and chest cavity forcefully, and slowly extend the spine upwards. Hold it for a bit. Breathe out Slowly exhale through nose (or nose and mouth together), and completely expel the old air. Step 3. Breathe In Use yinian and yishi to breathe into our lungs, lungs contract at same time. Then breathe in again, and again contract lungs tightly, until we cannot inhale anymore. Hold Breath Do not breath. As we hold our breath use yinian, yishi, and shenyi to expand our lungs, chest cavity, and ribs. Figure out who to let the chest cavity expand to a point where the whole body gets hot, this will fill out the couli 腠理 (protective layer between skin and muscle in the body) of the body with jing-qi. Breathe Out Endure for a little, and then slowly and completely empty the breath out of the lungs. Regulate Lower Burner Step 4. Breathe In Take a deep breath with our nose. At same time lift up anus, pull up on genitals, and contract xiaofu 小腹 (lower abdomen. We lift up anus to seal in digestion qi, and contract genitals to seal in qi from our urinary tract). Use yinian to contract xiaofu. Contract as tight as we can, the best is to have the front and back of the body stick together. Inhale until we can not inhale anymore. Hold Breath Do not breath. Hold it. Use yinian to let the outside of the xiaofu and the xiaofu to expand. Then hold it some more. Breathe Out Slowly exhale through our mouth (or mouth and nose together). When we breathe out, the xiaofu and the outside of the xiaofu relax. Step 5. Breathe In Breathe in, lift anus, pull up on genitals, and contract xiaofu. Contract as tightly as we can. Hold Breath Do not breath. Hold it. Forcefully expand the xiaofu inner cavity. Again hold it. Breathe Out Slowly exhale through our mouth (or mouth and nose together). Step 6. Breathe In Breathe in, lift anus, pull up on genitals, and contract xiaofu. Increase yinian, yishi, and shenyi, contract as tightly as we can. Hold Breath Do not breath. Hold it. Forcefully expand our xiaofu. Make the xiaofu inner cavity, xiaofu, and outside of xiaofu expand. Expand until we cannot expand anymore. Again, hold it. Think of a way to expand the xiaofu cavity to a point where the whole body gets hot, this will fill out the couli of the body with jing-qi. Breathe Out Slowly exhale through our mouth (or mouth and nose together). The six steps above are done together as one set of practice. If our body still has strength we can repeat the whole set again, or even a third time. Things to Pay Attention To The upper and lower burner must be practiced one after the other. When we work on one area the shenyi will be in that area, if other parts of the body move ignore them. When working the upper burner, eyes look straight ahead and then move down slightly to look within the chest cavity. When we start working the lower burner, eyes look down. Use yinian to quickly move the eyes from chest cavity to the abdominal cavity. All the practices related to the yi jing bian qi method must be used with the Hold Breath and Cease Breath segments, otherwise nothing will change! In order to make it convenient for casual practitioners, and to avoid confusion, we have omitted the segment for Cease Breath. After doing this set of practices the body will be very hot. The body becoming hot is a manifestation of qi changing, this is the point of the practice. According to how tired we are after the practice, we can also Bathe and Cleanse (do silent sitting). Let the whole body relax. Let the hands hang at our sides and stand or sit quietly. Wait for the body’s internal energy system to change. No random thoughts. Do not think about anything. Just think about our body. When our random thoughts start up again, finish off practice by rubbing hands and face. The main point with regulating the upper and lower burner is to strengthen our defensive qi, and replenish our internal organs. This practice will definitely heat up the chest cavity and abdominal cavity, and even the whole body. This is an indicator that the defensive qi is full. The body’s couli is inflated by the defensive qi, and using yi jing bian qi is a great way to get it activated. Defensive qi goes from inner to outer to protect our physical body’s skin and body pores. When our couli is filled out then bad qi cannot come into our body. Therefore, if you are stuck at home with nothing to do, I suggest giving it a try.
  3. What is a Daoist?

    What do you guys/girls think about the traditional Chinese view that a Taoist is anyone who is working as a Taoist? It's vocational instead of philosophical. For example running a Taoist shrine would make you a Taoist. The folks showing up to offer incense or mediate would not be considered Taoist, no matter how into it they are. I'm not saying that none of us can call ourselves Taoists, just think it's interesting to consider Taoist identity from the historical perspective. And identity gets so messy. Often practitioners would themselves identify with their lineage/teacher more than being Taoist. I am a student of this or that guy more than being Taoist or Buddhist. And then the nature of Taoist identity is always changing through the ages. In the Tang Taoist identity is pretty tight, loosens in the Song/Yuan, then tightens up after that. For example Li Daochun a famous alchemist from the Song/Yuan era doesn't seem comfortable calling himself a Taoist; I'm just some dude who is interested in spiritual cultivation however defined. Then in the Ming/Qing it seems practitioners are more into the Taoist label. But still lineage is their central identifying characteristic. I guess it makes sense from the Chinese perspective to plop everyone down into their social network. The Chinese love family. So instead of coming up with a philosophical distinction they use a social one. Who I am is who I am related to and what I do for society.
  4. Five-element theory and Lao & Chuang

    My understanding of the history (which is shaky at best) is that Wuxing theory developed as it's own school of thought during the Warring States period and was only later incorporated by "Taoist" lineages. During the Warring States there was the Hundred Schools of Thought that were each competing with each other. There was the Wuxing School and the Yin Yang School etc. And these were all basically contemporary with the DDJ, ZZ, Neiye and other proto-Taoist stuff. It was only later that certain lineages began to bring them all together.
  5. A practitioner's responsibility

    Hi KuroShiro, sure I can talk about it. First off I practice the Dragon Gate Lineage as passed on by Wang Liping, and don’t speak for Taoism in general (if there is such a thing). In his teaching Wang Liping emphasizes personal responsibility, and that life is up to each of us to figure out for ourselves. Our present moment is a product of our past choices/actions (including past lives). I have chosen to be here. No matter how sucky the present moment is, I am %100 responsible for it. Furthermore, my interpretation of the present moment is based a choice. We chose a narrative, we chose our drama. Or as Wang Liping puts it, good and bad does not exist outside of our body. Therefore we are responsible for what happens to us. However, this is a practice not a philosophy. It does not matter if the above is true or not, what matters is the results we get when we apply the perspective in every moment. I have been working with this for a few years and it’s changed my life. For me this perspective/practice has allowed me to be much more present and accepting of the moment. And there is a lot of power in that. I can still take action, however when I do it seems to be much more appropriate and effective action, not bogged down with a lot of drama. Well, less drama anyway, it's a work in progress. Wang Liping talks about learning this from his teachers. They would use the phrase “just the way it is” 就是這漾 (jiu shi zhei yang) every time something “bad” happened to them, implying they were responsible for it. They would have great fun with it, one time Wang Liping was eating a bowl of noodles and his teacher came over and knocked the bowl on the ground. When Wang Liping emotional reacted his teacher just laughed and said, “just the way it is.” Wang Liping explained that in that moment he had to accept he was responsible for his teacher knocking the bowl on the ground.
  6. A practitioner's responsibility

    Great discussion. 100% responsible for everything in our lives, as a practice not a philosophy. The Taoist lineage I’m involved with has the same practice. It’s powerful, life changing stuff. Before today I hadn’t heard anyone else talk about this, only my teacher, nice to know others have this too. Thanks for sharing Steve!
  7. The above post is great! Not elements, but movement. Metal- contraction inwards Water- decending and pooling Wood- expansion outwards Fire- ascending Earth- cycling/rotation
  8. Thought experiment to bring the Truth out?

    Lot's of great advice above! Although I don't have anything more to add, since this is a Taoist forum I thought I would mention that some Taoist lineages contain a whole slew of problem solving practices. The problem solving methods in the lineage I am familiar with are called Zhi Neng Fa (Wisdom Ability Methods). And they are a lot of fun. Unfortunately you need to be a practitioner with a decent foundation before they work. So I guess put the work in (if you haven't already) and find a teacher who will share. But, yeah, no help for you today. Good luck!
  9. Also, caves are super yin, with lots of Earth Qi. In the lineage of alchemy I practice we like to do the work in very yin environments. Extreme yin leads to the birth of yang. Out of the extreme stillness movement begins. And for the purposes of this conversation that movement is qi. It's like the Yi Ching hexagram, Fu ䷗ Return, five lines of yin over one line of yang just beginning to stir. As practitioners we want to find and harness this stillness. So places like caves, cellars, basements are all useful places to work at this stuff, really anywhere that has good Earth Qi. And as some of you mentioned above darkness helps develop certain aspects of the training as well. My sense is that fasting and sitting in caves are tools we can use to gain certain results. There isn't a perfect way of practicing, just what works best at that moment. For example there are different modes of neidan practice to build up qi. One way works the body in a very active manner, for this we need food to fuel the buildup of jing energy. If we used fasting while doing this kind of training it would deplete us. However, there is another way that works the body very gently, letting layers of body and self fall away, which allows us to tune into the qi more easily. For this sort of training fasting works well. A better way to put is we can either add or subtract to develop qi. If we are using methods that subtract then fasting will help. I don't think there is a best way to practice. Just what works at that time. I've done both, and they both produced results.
  10. "Minor Death" in Longmen Pai

    Wang Liping mentioned to a group of us in Austria several years ago that going through the minor and major deaths was the hardest part of his training. My sense from what he said was that the practitioner actually experiences the death process, and that it's not allegory. When Wang Liping brought it up you could tell from his manner that the experiences had had a profound impact on him. He also said he wouldn't take any of his students through the process because it was just too hard integrating back.
  11. Lower Dantian / Hara vs. Third Eye

    Interesting discussion. It seems to me that the relationship between text and practice is different than with us here in the modern West. Most of the old neidan texts I have read don't seem to be how-to manuals, that includes Secret of the Golden Flower. During the late Qing there were one or two that began to appear, I’m thinking of Zhao Bichen’s text (the one that was translated as Taoist Yoga). But all in all they don’t seem meant as instruction manuals. As some of you mentioned we need the oral transmission for that. I wonder what they were for then? I guess they help contextualize the practice, and in turn the practice unlocks the meaning of the text. But I’m sure there is more to it than that. The texts seem to act as a source of authority too. Sort of like a map that helps practitioners not stray too far off the path, or vice a versa, to let us know we are still on path. My teacher often brings up quotes from old texts to underline a point of practice. Probably not necessary, but I like it, and the classical Chinese Taoist language is just so beautiful. PS I heard that the Secret of the Golden Flower originally had 20 chapters, but the version that was translated only has 12 or 13.
  12. What constitutes Taoist alchemy?

    In Wang Liping's lineage internal alchemy is the system of practice for creating the elixir or embryo. Internal alchemy is a tool to help us on the Way (hence Taoist alchemy). If it's not working towards creating the elixir or embryo then it's probably something else. And that something else might be amazing stuff, but from the perspective of Wang Liping's lineage it's probably not internal alchemy. But of course this is just my perspective.
  13. ( )

    Gu Mingwei in Vancouver, Canada is really good with traditional Wu, and he teaches the 108. He also does a great 108 Wu small frame, square form. But driving a couple hours for class each way might not be optimal.
  14. New website: www.nathanbrine.com