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 get off with external sensory input then. Within, one focuses on a sound (mantra) or on breathing, in order to develop an undifferentiated state of mind which permits intuitive insights to arise on their own accord.
Dealing with the Vagrant Mind
When you catch your mind drifting into fantasy or drawing attention away from internal alchemy to external phenomena, there are some ways you can use to 'catch the monkey', clarify the mind and re-establish the internal focus. Try:
Practice a few minutes of thinking your mantra, which harmonizes energy and focuses the mind.
Also: 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.
It is fit to learn to pay attention without clinging.
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.
1. To gaze steadily without blinking for minutes on end 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 a method that Bodhidharma is credited with making known at large. In it, one looks unswervingly at a white wall for thirty-five minutes on end, at regular intervals.
2. Among humans, the Blank Stare is not much used outside Zen circles
Blank stares are seldom considered part of common customs, seldom considered comme il faut. To gaze without antecipating results forms a part of the practice.
There is research from Tokyo University on long-run effects of the practice. [Zen and EEG]
Yoga methods differ, and meditation methods differ. It should help to go for the most convenient among the very best methods to increase their odds for getting good results. That idea is in step with the teachings of Buddha in Bhumija Sutta.
TM, Transcendental Meditation, has been researched extensively. Dr 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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