Chinese meditative practices questions

StrangeCaptain

Jedi Council Member
FOTCM Member
How very cool this thread... Thanks... I have a question about certain Chinese breathing methods. Within Chinese meditative practices, usually called chi kung by English speakers, there are hundreds if not thousands of various practices and variations. The ones I know, like tai chi, tend to be passive in that one does little visualizing and one copes with internal dialogue by trying not to obsess on one's thoughts. there is the idea that each thought has a lifespan and as long as one does not hold on to it, it passes. As for visualization, I mean what one occupys one's mind with while practicing. Perhaps, this can be called the seed. For example, in modern therapeutic tai chi, one usually occupys one's mind with trying to stay relaxed and sensitive throughout the entirety of the body. It is believed that "belly breathing" is a natural progression in the practice and should not be forced or sought on purpose. This is another reason I call these practices "passive." Also, the breathing is usually in through the nose and out through the nose. So... The question...

Do these "passive" Chinese meditative practices like Tai Chi contribute in a constructive fashion to releasing emotional blockages?
 

mada85

The Living Force
Thank you Patience, for suggesting a Tai Chi question.

Patience said:
Do these "passive" Chinese meditative practices like Tai Chi contribute in a constructive fashion to releasing emotional blockages?
I would like to add Qi Gong to the question:

Do these "passive" Chinese meditative practices like Tai Chi and Qi Gong contribute in a constructive fashion to releasing emotional blockages?

Some years ago the Indian guru Rajneesh had the idea that Tai Chi could be used for this purpose. I read it in a book of his called 'From Medication to Meditation' which I no longer have, but to the best of my recollection the idea is as follows. Feel the emotion you wish to work with, and visualise it as energy (or water, fire or whatever has meaning for you) arising from the hara, and then allow it to move your body slowly, with the same speed you would normally do your Tai Chi. Eventually you will find a body position which fits the particular emotion you are working with. You can then hold this position (as in standing Qi Gong) and this will both encourage the emotion to arise and help to release it from the organism. Rajneesh thought that in this way a series of postures could be found which could then be taught to others. I tried this a few times with anger. I found it interesting but not very effective - perhaps I didn't do it enough :-[

And these additional questions following on from the first:

Can Tai Chi and Qi Gong be modified to be more effective for use as a method of clearing emotional blockages?

If so, which would be most effective, Tai Chi or Qi Gong?

Can the Cs give a clue or two as to how they could be modified?
 

obyvatel

The Living Force
mada85 said:
Thank you Patience, for suggesting a Tai Chi question.

Patience said:
Do these "passive" Chinese meditative practices like Tai Chi contribute in a constructive fashion to releasing emotional blockages?
I would like to add Qi Gong to the question:

Do these "passive" Chinese meditative practices like Tai Chi and Qi Gong contribute in a constructive fashion to releasing emotional blockages?

Some years ago the Indian guru Rajneesh had the idea that Tai Chi could be used for this purpose. I read it in a book of his called 'From Medication to Meditation' which I no longer have, but to the best of my recollection the idea is as follows. Feel the emotion you wish to work with, and visualise it as energy (or water, fire or whatever has meaning for you) arising from the hara, and then allow it to move your body slowly, with the same speed you would normally do your Tai Chi. Eventually you will find a body position which fits the particular emotion you are working with. You can then hold this position (as in standing Qi Gong) and this will both encourage the emotion to arise and help to release it from the organism. Rajneesh thought that in this way a series of postures could be found which could then be taught to others. I tried this a few times with anger. I found it interesting but not very effective - perhaps I didn't do it enough :-[

And these additional questions following on from the first:

Can Tai Chi and Qi Gong be modified to be more effective for use as a method of clearing emotional blockages?

If so, which would be most effective, Tai Chi or Qi Gong?

Can the Cs give a clue or two as to how they could be modified?
Hi Mada85,
If you have already not done so, it may be interesting to check out Bruce Frantzis's "Relaxing Into Your Being" regarding the topics of chi-gung/nei-gung, clearing emotional blockage, as well as the Fire and Water approaches to the issue.
fwiw
 

Joe

Administrator
Administrator
Moderator
FOTCM Member
Patience said:
How very cool this thread... Thanks... I have a question about certain Chinese breathing methods. Within Chinese meditative practices, usually called chi kung by English speakers, there are hundreds if not thousands of various practices and variations. The ones I know, like tai chi, tend to be passive in that one does little visualizing and one copes with internal dialogue by trying not to obsess on one's thoughts. there is the idea that each thought has a lifespan and as long as one does not hold on to it, it passes. As for visualization, I mean what one occupys one's mind with while practicing. Perhaps, this can be called the seed. For example, in modern therapeutic tai chi, one usually occupys one's mind with trying to stay relaxed and sensitive throughout the entirety of the body. It is believed that "belly breathing" is a natural progression in the practice and should not be forced or sought on purpose. This is another reason I call these practices "passive." Also, the breathing is usually in through the nose and out through the nose. So... The question...

Do these "passive" Chinese meditative practices like Tai Chi contribute in a constructive fashion to releasing emotional blockages?
Based on the popularity of such techniques I would that the answer is that the benefit is limited.
 

mada85

The Living Force
Perceval said:
Based on the popularity of such techniques I would that the answer is that the benefit is limited.
After experimenting with the breathing method, and the Prayer of the Soul, I agree with Perceval. Qi Gong and Tai Chi seem to be good for physical health, but do not, in my experience, facilitate emotional release in the way the Cassiopaean techniques do. My questions on this topic are withdrawn.
 

kenney

Padawan Learner
tai chi is very interesting. it is in many ways, a "dance," which seems to be of quite an interest lately. i would be interested myself what the C's have to say on the matter. I have been practicing the Yang long form for along time now the last five years or so I have incorporated various pranayama into the rythm of the movements. I am certain i can feel energy being stirred and circulated all around me when I find that perfect groove of movements and breathing.

i would not be surprised to discover that tai chi is yet another watered down memory of something once useful and powerful for us. if that is true, it would be nice to know what could be improved or removed to make it more beneficial/useful. i have still not gotten every position down pat, I stopped at "fair lady weaves the shuttle," due to disruptions in my family life and never went back to the complete form. I just shorten the form to fit the moment.

I do a lot of circling exercises, searching for the perfect rythm with the breath.

Welp that is my two cents if the C's had anything to say either way i would surely take that advice highly rated and apply it to my own use of tai chi in the future.
 

Ellipse

The Living Force
FOTCM Member
About Qi Gong my acupuncturist said me once that he observed a fact that is not said: health problems with people doing it intensively. A kind of pressure in the body aiming to a very serious condition.

Perhaps it's a lack of balance between the work of the body and the work of the mind for those people he have encounter or as you said kenney :
i would not be surprised to discover that tai chi is yet another watered down memory of something once useful and powerful for us. if that is true, it would be nice to know what could be improved or removed to make it more beneficial/useful.
 

gaman

Jedi Master
Hey Patience and mada85,

It appears most of your questions are answered in some of the responses above and if you read fully through the thread Eíriú-Eolas - Breathing Program.

Here are some links that have some context since the topic is rather long:

http://www.cassiopaea.org/forum/index.php?topic=12837.msg94582#msg94582

This post (http://www.cassiopaea.org/forum/index.php?topic=12837.msg94696#msg94696) doesn't directly address the questions, but rather raises a question about the intent of your questions. Is it because you would rather use Tai Chi or Qi Gong than the E-E program? Or to supplement it? I just mention this because my first impression was that you might be preferring some methods you are accustomed to rather than a new method. I may be way off base here.

This link (http://www.cassiopaea.org/forum/index.php?topic=12837.msg95544#msg95544) discusses some dangers about not having a seed (i.e. blanking the mind thoughts maybe?) or maybe not having the proper seed. Also I'm pretty sure there is a mention in the C's transcripts about putting in good stuff after clearing bad stuff so there isn't room for something else to move in but I haven't located it yet.
 

Mountain Crown

The Living Force
FOTCM Member
Taoist ontology suggests an affinity with Esoteric Christianity. It is proposed that a human being is the combination of prenatal and postnatal chi. Prenatal chi is said to be primordial, conscious, complete, and unlimited in creative potential. It is the source of the amazing growing ability of infants.

Immediately following birth, physical existence is dependent upon the utilization of postnatal chi from the environment through which a sense of self is formed. Though predicated on the existence of prenatal chi this self, before the end of the first decade, becomes (believes to be) independent.

Lack of awareness of nature and subsequent unbalanced living cause various means of wasting chi, denigrating and shortening life. Inharmonious and/or perverse emotions is said to be one of the major wastes. Taoist alchemy, starting with restoring harmony and conserving chi, set as its goal the return to prenatal chi existence.

Perceval's questioning of the usefulness of tai chi due to its popularity is sound advice. Most training is now divorced from its original context precisely to make it more appealing, especially to Westerners. There may be benefits to emotional health, but not in the sense of the goals of this forum.

edited to correct postnatal to prenatal chi existence in third paragraph.
 

Laura

Administrator
Administrator
Moderator
FOTCM Member
Mountain Crown said:
Taoist ontology suggests an affinity with Esoteric Christianity. It is proposed that a human being is the combination of prenatal and postnatal chi. Prenatal chi is said to be primordial, conscious, complete, and unlimited in creative potential. It is the source of the amazing growing ability of infants.

Immediately following birth, physical existence is dependent upon the utilization of postnatal chi from the environment through which a sense of self is formed. Though predicated on the existence of prenatal chi this self, before the end of the first decade, becomes (believes to be) independent.

Lack of awareness of nature and subsequent unbalanced living cause various means of wasting chi, denigrating and shortening life. Inharmonious and/or perverse emotions is said to be one of the major wastes. Taoist alchemy, starting with restoring harmony and conserving chi, set as its goal the return to prenatal chi existence.

Perceval's questioning of the usefulness of tai chi due to its popularity is sound advice. Most training is now divorced from its original context precisely to make it more appealing, especially to Westerners. There may be benefits to emotional health, but not in the sense of the goals of this forum.
Thanks for this info, MC - very helpful.

Recently, Ark read a book entitled "Taosim: The enduring tradition" by Russell Kirkland and was so impressed with it that he has encouraged me to have a look at it. I'll be reading it over the next few days. Meanwhile, this is the foreword (I've bolded a few things):

FOREWORD

We do not see its form,
We do not hear its sound,
Yet we can perceive an order to its
accomplishments.
We call it “the Way” [Tao].
Nei-yeh/Inward Training, trans. Harold D.Roth

Russell Kirkland has written an important introductory book for
Wayfarers who are curious about, and are seriously seeking out, the
spiritual path known ambiguously and recalcitrantly in the West as
Taoism. As one of the forgotten early Taoist texts, the Inward
Training, says: we—Chinese and others—call it the Way or the Tao.
The problem is that we have not really seen its form; and we have not
heard its sound. Or perhaps more accurately we have encountered a
cacophony of strange forms and sounds, many of which often have
little affinity with the Tao of Chinese history or with its extravagant
efflorescence throughout the world today. To be sure, we in the West
have perceived an “order,” or orders, of dichotomous meaning
associated with the Taoist tradition—most frequently described as a
contrast between the philosophical purity of some early “classical”
texts and the absurd religious practices of the later sectarian
traditions.


It has been known for some time that the received opinion about
Taoism in the West was in need of drastic revision. But fantasies
about Chinese tradition die a slow and lingering death
and, in fact, are
always subject to surprising moments of zombie-like reanimation in
sometimes silly and frightening ways (witness, for example, the
spawn of the “Tao of Pooh” and its ilk such as the “Tao of Steve” and,
most improbably, the “Tao of Elvis”). Even after a quarter-century of
revolutionary scholarship, it may still be said that the actual
“accomplishments” of the Tao, along with its sinuous path throughout
Chinese and world history, are only very recently coming into general
awareness in both scholarly and popular circles.1

There is good and bad news connected with these developments.
The bad news for many is simply that the compelling and beguiling
simplicity of the old “order” of understanding Taoism in relation to the
philosophical purity and romantic mystery of a few ancient texts has
now been absorbed into a vast, and at times bewildering, labyrinth of
texts, ideas, and practices. No longer is it possible to invoke a few
pious platitudes of poorly translated verse by the Old Boy, Laotzu, or
an elusively pithy parable from the Chuang-tzu, and feel confident
that one is dealing with the “essential” or “original” meaning of the
tradition. Nor is it possible blithely to assign students a copy of
Steven Mitchell’s “version” of the Tao te ching so that they might
meditate on the Zennish heart of Taoism. Even the blessed butterfly
dream of effortless non-action (wu-wei) which so enraptured
generations of Western commentators from Oscar Wilde to Timothy
Leary has largely evaporated—like the ch’imist of a Chinese
landscape painting—into the intertextual caverns and ritual practices
of Taoist history.

I could go on with a litany of now outdated and misleading
assumptions about Taoism
, but more positively I am happy to report
that for the first time it is possible to encounter actual Taoist
“accomplishments” in time and space that are not hopelessly
overwhelmed by willful and wistful Orientalist fabulation. This good
news is dramatically manifest in Russell Kirkland’s discussion of the
“enduring tradition” of Taoism. This book can, therefore, be
considered among the very first sinologically informed and popularly
accessible products of the pioneering labors by Taoist and comparative
scholars during the past twenty or thirty years
. Kirkland’s little book,
along with just one or two other recent works, shows us that Taoist
studies have finally come of age. What he has given us is not just
another technical monograph for a small community of specialists;
rather he has produced a kind of “first take” synthetic interpretation of
the history and meaning of Taoism that forces us to see the overall
tradition in fresh and unexpected ways.

Kirkland has, indeed, given us a new framework for understanding
the Taoist tradition—an iconoclastic perspective that often boldly
challenges many stereotypical conceptions favored by both popular
enthusiasts and sinological scholars. Another especially appealing
aspect of this work is Kirkland’s acerbic sensibility and his ability to
write comprehensibly and inquisitively. In the best sense of a teacher
who is in command of his subject and knows that real understanding,
like the Tao itself, is ever changing, he invites his readers to confront
and to interrogate the complexities of the tradition. Nothing is taken
for granted and, as curious Wayfarers, we are clearly asked to respond
argumentatively and critically. This book is, then, not just a significant
groundbreaking introduction to the Taoist tradition. It is also a kind of
revelatory evocation of the spirit of the tradition—a multifarious
tradition (or “omnidoxy,” as Kirkland suggestively describes it) that
calls all of us to be forever students of a Way that “endures” through
constant transformation. There are no final or definitive conclusions
to be drawn; only more questions to ask.

As a new and stimulating overview of the Taoist tradition, this
book is particularly helpful for clarifying some of the dense
confusions of Taoist history for a general audience. Striking examples
of Kirkland’s innovative approach are also seen in such matters as his
treatment of the role of women in Taoism; his dismissal of the
simplistic notion that the ideal of the hsien (often misleadingly
identified as a reclusive “immortal”) is the central goal or meaning of
the Taoist religion; and his rejection of the notion that the later Taoist
sectarian religious movements were mostly derivative of Buddhism.

The major interpretive contribution of this work is, however, to be
found in his persuasive discussion of the religious “goal” of the
“cultivated life” in Taoism (stressing bodily, mental, and spiritual
practices of personal transformation) which was predominantly
accomplished within a social framework.

There are other revelations and virtues to be found in this book.
But I must leave it to the reader to make these discoveries. This is,
after all, part of the real serendipitous and educative joy of Kirkland’s
treatise—you never know what you will find along the way.

Norman J.Girardot
University Distinguished Professor
Religion Studies Department
Lehigh University
Perhaps it would be useful for those with questions about Chinese traditions/practices to read this book and, perhaps, find some answers on their own?
 

Mountain Crown

The Living Force
FOTCM Member
It is interesting to note that:

Taoism was the result of conclusions drawn from strict observation by ancients who were atheists - scientists if you will.
Taoist corrective measures always centered on the breath.

Reminds me of QFG.

(Please note my typo in the third paragraph in Laura's quote - postnatal should read prenatal, an important distinction)
 
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