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Dear Dao Bums, 

 

This is my first post. I write because I feel the need to share my experiences with the golden flower method, as described in the secret of the golden flower and then explained by JJ Semple. 

Today marks 144 days since I started the daily meditation. Unlike other accounts, I haven't had a dramatic experience, but I do notice a definite gradual change. I'll try to keep this post short, so I'll only talk about a few things I've observed in my body: 

1. At around day 90 I was napping in the afternoon and felt a very strong, VERY STRONG, electric current in all of my spine. I had the presence of mind to align my head and it also went into my head. It felt like when you accidentally get shocked at a power outlet and you can't let go. But it was not unpleasant nor painful, just intense. I'm not sure how long it lasted. Afterwards I felt like my usual self. 

2. A few times now I've woken up at night because of intense heat in my body, followed by a lot of sweating, and a feeling that my insides are 'spinning' or ' vibrating' . When this happened,  I had eaten red meat and had drunk alcohol (gin and tonic).  

3. Twice now in those moments I 'wake up' and float out of my body, it's like I have enough energy to sustain myself outside my body; but I quickly lose awareness and fall into dream mode. 

 

I found the alcohol thing very interesting, usually for years now I've not been able to tolerate liquor; though I never stopped drinking beer and wine. I only drink socially on weekends, and don't usually get drunk, but it happens from time to time. Lately I had been drinking less and less because even one beer can give me a hang over and a headache the next day. Since, I've been meditating, (and also with some other  practices I did in the past); when I drink liquor it's like adding fuel to the fire.  It's like a reaction that has been wanting to take place, like a little engine inside me starts up and vibrates, moves around different parts of my body, and then generates heat, and finally sweat. Again, it's intense but not unpleasant. When I'm actually sitting at meditation, it's only a mild pleasant king of heat some of the time (sometimes nothing). Things seem to happen during sleep, but I think they are definitely linked to the sitting practice. The rest of the time life goes on as usual, no big changes, just maybe a bit more awareness about my inner emotional states. 

 

Naturally I turned to the internet for research. Most advice says not to drink alcohol while meditating, and to stick to a mostly vegetarian diet. I feel that meat and alcohol help the process in my case, they give me more energy. I found mentions of obscure tibetan traditions involving alcohol, and I read a book about Aghoris (an indian sect that eats meat, consumes intoxicants and allegedly does rituals with corpses...). 

 

My theory is that most recommendations have teenage boys in mind, who probably have excess fire (chinese medicine term), and need a cooling diet to be able to raise energy in meditation without loosing control. Also, recommendations probably stem from trying to manage teenage boys in a monastery that need to be kept in order and convinced to be celibate.

 

In my case, I would say I have excess water and some wind (again chinese medicine terms), when I tried a vegetarian diet (for moral principles) I've felt quite weak and dispirited. 

 

Anyway, my question here is, has anyone had any experiences with meditation/ alcohol/ meat? 

 

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Hello, Arisol, and welcome.

 

Your membership is approved and we're happy you found your way to us. We look forward to accompanying you on some of the way that you still have to go.

 

Please take the time to read the post pinned at the top of this Welcome page and take a look at the forum Terms and Rules.   This covers all you need to know when getting started.

 

For the first week you will be restricted to ten posts per day but after that you can post as much as you like. Also, until you’ve posted fifteen times in the forums, you’ll be a “Junior Bum” with somewhat restricted access and will be allowed only two private messages per day.

 

Good luck in your pursuits and best wishes to you,

 

Fa Xin and the TDB team

 

Hi Arisol,

 

Welcome. From my own personal experiences, red meat is not a problem for me (can definitely help ground someone) but I am sensitive to, and have trouble drinking alcohol.  I usually get a headache feeling from it. My sober state is when I am 100%, and add intoxicants that usually drops. I have my own theories about it but I won't go into that here. I am glad you find it's helping you.  Enjoy the forum :) 

 

 

You are welcome to jump right in to the ongoing discussions, revive an older thread, start a new thread of your own, or start a discussion in the "Newcomer Corner" sub-forum to expand on your introduction or ask general questions to help you get started.

 

May you enjoy your time here.

 

Fa Xin 

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Congrats on getting to day 144.  Because the writing is somewhat poetical, I'm interesting in what Golden Flower practitioners are actually doing.  Sometimes practices seem way different.  Would you mind sharing what you do? 

 

Here's my attempt to make sense of it:

 

When I was doing martial arts intensely I took to heart the advice never eat or drink so much you can't defend yourself well.  I'm beginning to think the same thing about meditation.  For me its minimizing, not eliminating.  Eating heavy hurts my meditation, more then a glass of alcohol hurts, and maybe even one is detrimental.   Course I'm willing live in a less perfect state.   

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Dear thelerner, 

11 hours ago, thelerner said:

Congrats on getting to day 144.

Thanks!!!

11 hours ago, thelerner said:

Would you mind sharing what you do?

 

Sure, indeed the books are poetic and open to interpretation. I see you're familiar with the sources, I would like to read what you put together, but the link in the thread (the one to the summary) didn't work. 

 

I've spent an amount of time reading different translations of the text. The most useful one for me has been the one by thomas cleary. And also, JJ Semple's explanations about it, as you say they are ' westernized'. But either way, the texts have so much imagery that you can philosophize forever on it. I also adapted it a bit to what feels ok for me. 

 

So what I do in practical terms:

1. Sit comfortably

2. Box breathing pattern of 6 times. 

3. I don't count, I say ' Om mani pad me hum' in my head each time. 

4. Stare at my nose with eyes open just enough. 

5. Keep lights on, usually. 

6. Set timer,

 

About sitting: I had started sitting in lotus with my back unsupported...but quickly realized that I'm not fit enough to keep that very long, and it was causing knee pain.  Now I sit in easy cross legged position in my bed and support my lower back in a pillow while I try to balance my neck into alignment with my spine. If I'm uncomfortable on some occasions I have done it with stretched legs, and one week when I had fever I did it lying down. 

 

About box breathing: start with exhaling, hold empty for a count of 'om mani padme hum' (6 syllables, a count of 6); inhale for a count of 6, retain full for a count of six, exhale for a count of 6. Start over. I try to make the breathing as quiet as possible, so that I can't hear it, but sometimes I can't and I do the softest possible. Just to clarify, I start with empty lungs and do not aim to fill them to full capacity with each breath, just a very soft breath for 6 counts. I try to start breathing in my belly (let diaphragm fall), then expand ribs (as singers do), then upper lungs. Sometimes I slightly move my spine/ neck to allow the breath to pass. 

 

About a count of 6 with Om mani padme hum: this part I added myself, not mentioned in the books, though Om mani padme hum can be interpreted as 'golden or jeweled flower'; I just like the cadence of it, and I like the idea of it more than repeating numbers.  It gives me a nice rhythm to breathe to. 

 

About timing: usually 20 minutes. My intention was to do at least 8 minutes per day, every day no matter what, but it quickly went up to 20. Sometimes more sometimes less. 

 

That's it. I've had trouble maintaining any kind of discipline throughout my whole life. So this time I said, ' I will sit at least 8 minutes for at least 100 days' no matter what. Unlike other times when I gave up quickly, this time around I only set this one discipline, everything else could remain as it was. 

The 'no matter what' turned out to be my other lacks of discipline, like eating badly and having indigestion, and sometimes meditating after drinking alcohol. I've never gotten drunk on purpose before meditating; it just happened, and I thought the result was interesting. I also have struggled for many years with chronic pain and muscle spasms (fibromyalgia they say....but I don't accept the label); and that does get in the way of relaxing and going deeper into the meditation. 

 

Anyway, thanks for asking. Have you consistently tried this mediation for a period of time? what has been your experience with it?

 

Cheers!!

Ari

 

 

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Now that I've written it I thought more consciously about it, I have something to add about the breathing and the ' om mani padme hum' . I see a certain pattern started on it's own, like the words guide or 'open' spaces where the breath can go. With each word the breath goes a little bit higher into other places of my body. I still feel spots that do not 'open' and are in fact quite tight and in a spasm since a long time ago. 

 

Inhaling:

''Om'  diaphragm drops and belly expands

'ma ni'  ribs expand and breath 'goes up' 

' pad me'  lungs expand towards my back (spine) 

' hum' breath reaches head. 

 

Exhaling: 

the same but in reverse

'Om' air goes out of my head, '

' mani' upper lungs relax and release air

' pad me' ribs relax

'hum' belly draws slightly in toward spine. 

 

I had thought that I wouldn't keep a log of my experience, but suddenly I feel the need to write about it. Thanks for reading, and curious to know if others have had similar experiences. 

 

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When I was working on it, I considered it Golden Flower influenced cause I never had a firm handle on exactly what the practice was or rather saw people doing several different things.

 

I'd  start with a dozen or two rounds of counting my breaths to 10's(a pre-amble), then a little 3rd eye to lower dantien energy focused breathing, then let that go, work on keeping my breath as quiet as possible.  Often keeping my eyes half closed focused a foot or two ahead on the floor.  Trying to keep my breath inaudible.  Then letting myself fall into do nothing, just breath and pretty.  Generally stay away from the trance state or at least the deeper ones.   I probably need to stay there longer.

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Nice conversation, much appreciated.

 

Wang Li Ping recommended the Golden Flower meditation in a conversation at one of his retreats, specifically the Richard Wilhelm translation.

 

I'm rather saturating in the method of 'no method' lately, but should I return for formal praxis will couple golden flower with the practices outlined in Ling Bao Tong Zhi Neng Nei Gong Shu

 

For now, it's appropriate to proceed without formal rigid practices more according to the premise outlined in John Blofeld's account of his meeting with Tseng Lao-Weng of White Cloud Monestary back in the 1920's.  Outlined near the end of chapter six in the book the secret and sublime.  It's always heartening to read of other's experiences with these deeply resonating practices though, even when I've no current pull to them myself.

 

Thanks for sharing.

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On 4/19/2019 at 7:27 PM, thelerner said:

Generally stay away from the trance state or at least the deeper ones. 

Hi Thelerner, 

Thanks for your reply. May I ask, why do you want to stay away from the trance state? 

Is there a particular reason?

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On 4/19/2019 at 8:02 PM, silent thunder said:

'm rather saturating in the method of 'no method' lately, but should I return for formal praxis will couple golden flower with the practices outlined in Ling Bao Tong Zhi Neng Nei Gong Shu

Hi Silent Thunder, 

Thanks for your reply. I'll check out the references that you mention. 

I think all paths are valuable, from a simple yet structured approach like the golden flower to a method of no method as you say, it's about what resonates with you at a given moment. 

 

The golden flower method is not very easy to grasp at first reading, the writing is obtuse and filled with imagery belonging to another culture. I've been involved in eastern practices for quite a few years now, and I learned much from a japanese sensei on the art of feeling energy, specifically applied to shiatsu. From his style of teaching I learned that the approach of teaching is completely different to what I have known all my life. We spent one year doing only touching massage without any theory of meridians or tsubos, we learned to feel first before thinking. 

 

I read this example somewhere and I think it illustrates my point. In the western world if you want to teach someone to build a boat you'd point out materials, blueprints, cutting methods, binding methods, etc..... 

In the eastern approach if you want to teach someone to build a boat you'd inspire in them a deep longing for the sea, and they will find their own way to build a boat. 

 

The written eastern traditions are more about inspiration and feeling than literal instruction. Which is why they are written in images and metaphors. So my idea is that whatever *your* interpretation of a method at a given point is, that is exactly what is right for you. Now, don't get me wrong, eastern traditions have very specific ways of building boats, honed and refined; but these would mostly be taught in person to apprentices. They would not be recorded in written teachings (historically with a few exceptions). I think the golden flower method is indeed an exception, and they did their best to record instructions that would transmit feeling. 

 

I'm now in day 161 of this method. I keep re-reading the translations and every time I go back to a passage I understand it in a different way as I gain practice. My experience has been mostly very sutble, but I feel that is is also very deep, I start to feel deeper into my body, and to see my monkey mind more clearly. Still a way to go, so for now I will continue and see what happens. 

 

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On 19/04/2019 at 1:00 PM, Arisol said:

1. Sit comfortably

2. Box breathing pattern of 6 times. 

3. I don't count, I say ' Om mani pad me hum' in my head each time. 

4. Stare at my nose with eyes open just enough. 

5. Keep lights on, usually. 

6. Set timer,

 

In the text it says that the key is in the eyes, and the secret resides entirely in the Heavenly Heart centrally between the eyes.   And also the importance of light.

In your practice you do not include any work with the eyes, the heavenly heart, or the light.
It is like you buy a holiday to Ancient Wudang, and a bus appears to take you to Bognor Regis.

Perhaps it is worth reading the text.

 

Also with regards your breath.   The breath will become normal and represent the truth of the vital force ... just as soon as you stop telling it what to do.   The more you tell it what to do it means you do not trust your breath, or trust life, and you wish to control it and not let go of control.   And this is highly inadvisable.   Just let the breath be, and merge with it.

 

 

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3 hours ago, Arisol said:

Hi Thelerner, 

Thanks for your reply. May I ask, why do you want to stay away from the trance state? 

Is there a particular reason?

Its Adyashanti's influence.  Early on when I'd meditate I'd lose track of time and it was pleasant.  I'd aim for that state.  But Adyashanti and really Vispassana and other traditions seem to say stay aware and alert.  Maybe not your normal state but don't fade off into sleepy trance.  That's too close to escapism.  Its not where the work gets done, other then some rejuvenation, I guess.  

 

These days after a few areas of focus; dan tiens and downward flow,  after 30 or 40 minutes I'll let go of technique and 'just sit'.  Keeping awareness going, though its focus moves freely before settling where it will. 

 

 

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8 hours ago, rideforever said:

In your practice you do not include any work with the eyes, the heavenly heart, or the light.

Hi rideforever, 

Thanks for your reply. Like I said, I do what I understand, and slowly discover other doings, or non doings.  With regard to the eyes, I aim to keep them fixed on the direction of my nose, but after a while I stop seeing the nose even though the eyes are looking at it. It's not something I do, it just happens sometimes for moments, sometimes more sustained. Do you have any suggestions for 'work with the eyes, heavenly heart, or light' ?  what exactly is the work with it? 

 

 

8 hours ago, rideforever said:

t is like you buy a holiday to Ancient Wudang, and a bus appears to take you to Bognor Regis.

Perhaps it is worth reading the text.

I don't understand the reference... also, clearly I've read the text more than a few times, like I said before, I practice what I understand. I don't appreciate your tone here, though I do appreciate suggestions, which is why I am sharing my experiences in a forum. Nevertheless, I'm respectfully pointing out that there are ways to communicate a point without being a condescending twat.  That being said, if you have a deeper understanding of the techniques, please do share. 

 

As for the breath, I do control it, the box breathing pattern has been a fantastic tool to slowly relax my diaphragm and open up my lungs slowly but surely. Lately, sometimes, a different feeling of breathing just appears on its own. It's like one yawn after the other, it's very pleasant, when that happens I let go of the box pattern in breathing and just follow the yawns, but I maintain the mantra. My eyes water, a lot, when this happens; a lot of tears fall out. I don't call it crying because it's not like usual crying that would be related to an emotional state, it's literally a release. I also feel that my eyes water both towards the outside (my face, usual tears); and also towards the inside behind the back of my nose. The yawning, also involves the ears, the text references the ears but I didn't understand what it meant until I felt it with the yawns. From wikipedia: ' A yawn is a reflex consisting of the simultaneous inhalation of air and the stretching of the eardrums, followed by an exhalation of breath' 

 

 

 

 

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Hi thelerner, 

 

7 hours ago, thelerner said:

Its Adyashanti's influence.  Early on when I'd meditate I'd lose track of time and it was pleasant.  I'd aim for that state.  But Adyashanti and really Vispassana and other traditions seem to say stay aware and alert.  Maybe not your normal state but don't fade off into sleepy trance.  That's too close to escapism.  Its not where the work gets done, other then some rejuvenation, I guess.  

 

These days after a few areas of focus; dan tiens and downward flow,  after 30 or 40 minutes I'll let go of technique and 'just sit'.  Keeping awareness going, though its focus moves freely before settling where it will. 

 

 

 

I'm glad I asked why you avoid the trance state. I've been wondering the same thing myself, whether going into the trance that swallows up time is just another escape or not. Thomas cleary speaks of avoiding both 'oblivion and distraction' ; perhaps the type of trance that you are talking about is the 'oblivion' state? 

 

I also recognize the value of letting go of technique and 'just sitting' as you  propose.  I do it sometimes, during other moments, not during my dedicated 20 minutes for the GFM; the yawning reflex starts just the same now in both the structured and unstructured meditations. At this point though, I really appreciate the structure that the method brings, I am a largely spontaneous and chaotic person. I usually opt for the purely intuitive method, but I've fallen into some patterns that I want to avoid. Which is why now I'm glad I found this method, and I gain peace from practicing it.  

 

What is the downward flow you mention? is it like the microcosmic orbit? 

 

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Posted (edited)
15 hours ago, Arisol said:

What is the downward flow you mention? is it like the microcosmic orbit? 

 

One of my old Aikido sensei's would say we want 'the nothing that is something.  not the nothing that is nothing.'  Much of his teaching was paradoxical.  Maybe its about losing the self conscious while keeping the 'witness'.. kind of thing.  

 

After playing around with a few systems I spent a few years just sitting.  Not even sitting for that long either.  Then I wanted to get back into a system.  The Golden Flower always interested me.  Its somewhat ill defined but I see pieces of other practices in there.  What I got out my readings were breath quietly as possible, and downward movement from eyes to tip of nose, down to dan tien. 

 

The member Spotless gave me some good advice on meditation.  Breathing into the center of the head, getting the sensation and location solid.  Then moving the breath down slowly into the lower dan tien and repeated it with the other dan tiens. 

I collected his writing here:

 

Edited by thelerner

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