Taoist meditation methods can be organized into two main categories: Tranquil Sitting and Internal Alchemy.
“Tranquil Sitting relies on the practitioner attaining
Tranquil Sitting is divided into the practices of Sitting and Forgetting and Contemplation Meditation.
Sitting and Forgetting
In Taoism, the long-term purpose of meditation is clarity and tranquility—simply put, a clear mind and calm body. In this state, you forget that you are sitting, and you even forget that you are forgetting. That happens over time with a consistent, dedicated meditation practice. In the short-term it is best to sit without any desired outcome in mind.
Basic Instructions for Sitting and Forgetting:
- Be still and continually correct your meditation posture.
- Breathe from your lower abdomen.
- Put all your attention (mindfulness) on the lower abdomen. One method is to count the breaths, one count for each exhale, up to ten and then start over at one on the next exhale.
- Bring awareness and compassion to whatever thoughts and feelings arise. One way of doing this is called the R.A.I.N. method: Recognize, Allow, Investigate with Intimacy, and Nurture. To learn more and practice this, here is a short guided R.A.I.N. meditation by Tara Brach.
- When your mind feels settled and present, allow the mind to rest in bare awareness of all the senses, without any agenda or effort.
*IMPORTANT* It’s important to know that meditation is not right for all people at all times, especially those who have or may have experienced trauma. Click here for more information about Trauma-Sensitive meditation.
Learn more about how to practice the Taoist meditation method of Sitting and Forgetting on the following pages:
Taoist Contemplation Meditation
For Contemplation Meditation, we have Taoist Scriptures available in our library, and a recording of the Tao Te Ching available in the Celestial Immortal Member Area and you can purchase it through Valley Spirit Arts.
This method involves sitting in meditation and contemplating upon a spiritual text, but not in the sense of attempting to understand the text—just listening as though hearing the sounds of nature in the background. This allows one to absorb the teachings unconsciously when there is no rational analysis of what is being said.
Contemplation meditation can also be done by gazing into nature. Simply contemplating what lies before you and absorbing yourself into that contemplation. It can also be performed while staring at a wall and contemplating certain questions or concepts or things that arise in one’s own mind.
Internal Alchemy is the practice of developing and moving the inner energies of the body: Jing (essence of bodily fluids), Qi (vitality of breath), and Shen (the spirit and will of the mind). At first the movement of energy is the Qi (Fire) and later when cultivating correctly it is the movement of the Elixir (Water).
For more information about Internal Alchemy, see Stuart’s book Refining the Elixir: The Internal Alchemy Teachings of Taoist Immortal Zhang Sanfeng, or become a Celestial Immortal Member to access more Internal Alchemy resources.