Taoist meditation methods have many points in common with Hindu and Buddhist systems. The two main guidelines in Taoist meditation are jing ('quiet, stillness, calm') and ding ('concentration, focus'). The purpose of stillness, both mental and physical, is to turn attention inwards and cut off external sensory input. Within that silent stillness, one concentrates the mind and focuses attention or a sound (mantra) or on breathing, in order to develop an undifferentiated state of mind which permits intuitive insights to arise spontaneously.
Dealing with the Vagrant Mind
When you catch your mind drifting into fantasy or drawing attention away from internal alchemy to external phenomena, here are six ways you can use to 'catch the monkey', clarify the mind and re-establish the internal focus:
With eyes half-closed, focus vision on a candle flame or a lovely picture for a while.
You can focus non-directedly on the breath too.
Practice a few minutes of thinking your mantra, which harmonizes energy and focuses the mind. Chanting the syllables mainly mentally or mentally only should pay handsomely in the long run.
Just refocus your mind on whatever meditative technique you were practicing.
Steadying Yourself First
Use a comfortable posture for the body, balance your weight evenly, straighten the spine, and pay attention to physical sensations if they arise. Then, when your body feels OK, shift attention to the breath as it flows in and out, or even better: on your favourable mantra (a syllable or set of syllables)
Finally focus attention on thoughts and feelings engendered in your mind.
So long as your legs are not supple to sit in a pleasant, cross-legged pose (e.g. sukhasana) on a fit cushion, you may sit erect on a low stool or chair, feet parallel and shoulder width apart, knees bent at a 90-degree angle, spine erect. Also, choice of method and posture depends on conditions.
The hands are most often placed like this: Try resting the palms lightly on the thighs, just above the knees. Or fold them in your lap, or place one upturned hand onto the other, and so on (there are several variations). The last way is the more profitable in time.
What is Inwardly Matters
Later you may learn that focusing your attention on the area between the eyebrows in time draws inward energy to it. In Chinese Zen what is felt by this appears to be called the "doubt mass", I-t'uan, by some [Prz 225]. The kind of "gentle pressure" is described by Hindu yogis too. As you sit and meditate, a swirling energy and awareness may be detected in time, as a result of your steady meditation practice.
It is good to learn to pay attention without clinging.
Gaze steadily without blinking for minutes on end - it is a Zen method
The Buddhist monk Bodhidharma lived during the 400s or 500s CE. A tradition credits him with transmitting Ch'an to China [Ch'an is Chinese for dhyana, later called Zen in Japan], regarding him as its first Chinese Ch'an patriarch. Chinese legend has it that he began the physical training of the Shaolin monks that became Shaolin Kung Fu. Accounts of Bodhidharma are layered with legend. [WP, "Bodhidharma"]
The "Zen stare" is in common use, and Bodhidharma is credited with making it known at large. You sit and look unswervingly at a white wall for thirty-five minutes on end, at regular intervals.
To get an inkling, you could look to a lamb that is staring blandly - a Zen look may suit that occasion. Against it, many try to get married and next be about their main, regular "business" till they get infirm and die, all of which can be good at the proper time, proper conditions, and so on, but most often tells of lost opportunities to stare - observe also.
The Blank Stare is not customary outside Zen circles.
Not running blank
Mind blanks do not help you on and up in the midstream.
To gaze without hopes of getting results IS the practice. And since the practice may seem outré at first acquaintance, here are results of a study of it from Tokyo University. [Zen and EEG]
At the end of the gliding session, remain in silence with eyes closed for a couple of minutes.
Do not offend yourself, "listen inside" instead.
A neurotic may suffer damage from boring inside in a hard-headed way.
Refrain from meditation ahead of the danger, not after the danger has broken out.
Know-how meted out in advance serves to eliminate many problems.
To be merely herding is too little for a man.
Too little is not good.
Suitable adjustments are not to be abandoned for something flurry.
Do not get promiscuous.
Try and take a safe route, given due consideration to the many alternatives at hand.
Do not dispense with good enough local coping.
Yoga methods differ, meditation methods differ. It helps to select yoga methods and meditation techniques that suit oneself best. Those who want inner progress, should go for the most convenient among the very best methods, to increase their odds for getting good results.
TM, Transcendental Meditation, has been researched extensively, and David Orme-Johnson informs of its many benefits. [◦Link]
Practice of Yoga
The Brahma Purana's chapter 127 is "Practice of Yoga." In it, Yoga means most of all higher yoga, yoga-meditation:
Yoga is not achieved merely by resorting to the Lotus posture. (127:29)
One shall not practise Yoga in a place which is . . . too near fire . . . in a place infested by reptiles . . . in an anthill. (127:6-9)
Practise Yoga in a place [that is at least] free from noice. (127:6-9)
([A]rrangement for) safety should always be made by every means by a person conversant with Yoga, since the physical body is the means of achievement of virtue, wealth, love and liberation. (127:12)
Diet "conducive to the steady practice of Yoga: flour of fried grains, rice gruel, butter milk, roots, fruits, milk, barley food, ears of corn and oil cakes." (127:6-9;)
Be truthful in speech. (127:13-20)
Withdraw the mind into the heart. Purusottama [The Supreme Spirit, Supreme Being], the bestower of salvation, dwells in the cavity of a lotus-like heart. (127:13-20, abr.)
When Sarvatman (the soul of all) is awake, the universe is active. (125:8)
Chang, Garma C. C. The Practice of Zen. New York: Perennial/Harper, 1970.
Cleary, Thomas, tr, comp. Taoist Meditation: Methods for Cultivating a Healthy Mind and Body. Boston: Shambhala, 2000.
Kohn, Livia. Sitting in Oblivion: The Heart of Daoist Meditation. Dunedin, FL: Three Pines Press, 2010.
Pine, Red, tr. Bodhidharma. The Zen Teachings of Bodhidharma New ed. New York: North Point Press / Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1989.
Shastri, J. L., ed. Brahma Purana: Part 3. Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass, 1986.
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