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Page 4 - Journey To Stillness


4. Beginning from your genitals, go down to below the floor and back up to your genitals following the same pathway as you did in step 3. Next, go from the genitals to the tailbone, up the spine to the occipital bone, through the brain to the crown of the head, to the energy point above your head at the end of your etheric body. Next, retrace the same pathway from above your head, down the spine to the genitals. Now upward from the genitals, through the whole of the inside of your pelvis and torso and spine to the whole of the inside of your body to the level of your heart. From there, move simultaneously to your shoulders and up the spine to the base of the neck and onward to your fingertips, the top of your head, and above your head to the end of your etheric body.

Then, at a point beginning at the top of your head (or above your head, if you can feel the energy of your aura), slowly feel your way down through your body until you reach your lower tantien, and from there go down your legs to below your feet.

It is important to actually feel your body and not to merely visualize its different parts. This process of internally sensing the body starting at the head and moving down to the lower tantien can take a long time; indeed, you can spend a one-hour session of meditation working on only a small segment of your body. After gaining experience, your ability to feel inside and penetrate your body with awareness will intensify. At this point you should be gaining the ability to actually feel your internal sensations. As you move your attention through your body, you will probably encounter areas that feel full of all sorts of internal contentthings stuck, blocked, uncomfortable, agitated, happy, depressed, and so on. These and all other Taoist meditation practices ultimately involve dissolving and releasing the energy of these blockages, as described in the next chapter, until you become internally free.

 

Correct Alignment

The Lying-Down Practices

The lying-down practices are the most difficult of the five styles of meditation. To have your mind, chi, and spirit stay fully conscious and to practice for hours on end while your body is totally relaxed is not easy. In fact, you may become so relaxed that you and others become aware of your bodys snoring. However, you are not dreaming, but remain wide-awake. Ordinarily, the lying-down practices are not recommended until after a person has had substantial experience with the standing, moving, and sitting styles. Consequently, the lying-down style is considered an advanced practice.

The ideal state when practicing lying-down meditation is to have your body be completely motionless. Since you may be lying completely still for more than one hour, it is best to lie on a surface that you find extremely comfortable, one that is neither too soft nor too hard. An overly hard or soft sleeping surface will most likely prevent your body from relaxing completely. Overly soft surfaces will cause your body to sag, putting pressure from internal body weight on your bones, muscles, nerves, and internal organs. These pressures can easily cause irritation that requires physical adjustment for relief. Overly hard surfaces can cause pain, which will again make you want to move. Sofas and beds with sufficient and well-constructed springs or thick futons placed on the floor usually work quite well. Once you are relaxed enough internally after some lying-down practice has been accomplished, hard surfaces are preferred, because internal relaxation is optimal when there is a strong counterpoint to the bodys innate softness. Remember that this practice has been done for millennia on cave floors and in rough mountain hermitages, as well as in comfortable homes with well-designed furniture.

Correct Alignment

The author, B.K. Frantzis, in meditation.

For this style of meditation, you may assume any lying-down position. Most people, however, prefer to lie on the left or right side of the body rather than on belly or back. When lying on your stomach make sure your pillows are arranged in such a way that you have plenty of air. When on your back, place pillows around your head, neck, buttocks, and backs of your knees so you feel no strain whatsoever on your back, neck, or hips.

If you opt for a sideways position (Fig.8.1), it is best to choose your right side so the weight of your body does not compress your heart and impede the blood circulation. You may cross your left knee over your right knee. If your back or hip is weak or injured, you may want to place a pillow between your knees or around your hips or neck for support. As in the third method of sitting in a chair, it is important for the same reasons to adjust your body in such a way as to lightly stretch, rather than compress, your spinal cord.

 

How to Practice

Begin every lying-down session by closing your eyes, relaxing your body, and establishing your breathing. Lying down with eyes closed, let go of as much tension as you can, using your awareness to scan internally down from the top of your head to the tips of your toes, progressively releasing all tension you encounter.

Next, still lying down, practice Taoist internal breathing to relax the inside of your body and mind to the maximum extent possible, until eventually the whole inside of your body releases fully. At this juncture, your breathing should have become completely soft, long, deep, and silent. At the point when your breathing becomes so soft it has seemed to disappear, you will, when you breathe, begin to feel a sense of energy coming into your body. Continue breathing until you feel your body filling up with a clean, strong sense of energy from head to toe. It is this vibrant sense of energy that will keep your mind totally awake, even if parts of your body fall asleep.

Again, this practice is not easy. It usually takes a beginner three to five hours of continuous breathing without moving to get a complete release without falling asleep. This amount of practice time must be built up gradually, adhering to the 70% Rule to avoid strain. Once you have done this practice daily for a few months, you should be able to reach the release point within five minutes, effortlessly.

 


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