In the current world, a large percentage of the population is hooked on meditation. You may be trying out this practice with different goals in mind. They could range from relaxation, mindfulness, therapy, to insomnia treatment. Whatever your goal is, there are plenty of meditation techniques and styles to choose from.
One ancient technique you can try out in this era is Taoist meditation. Like any other meditation method, you can easily pick it up and make it a routine. The technique dates back to a lot of ancient Chinese writings. Therefore, expect to learn a thing or two about some ancient Chinese arts when you try out this reflective approach.
Taoist meditation has loads of benefits and plenty of teachings. So, you will gain a lot by merely adding this contemplative approach to your routine. However, you must ensure you are doing it correctly to reap all the rewards.
History of Taoist Meditation
As mentioned earlier, the reflective method is one of the many ancient Chinese teachings. It was developed by a guy born in China around 604 BC known as Lao-Tzu. It means that this philosophy dates back at least 5, 000 years ago (3).
Tao from the term Taoist has various meanings. It could refer to a path, way or disclosure. Therefore, when this term is used in a spiritual setting, it refers to a path leading to the ultimate reality.
It refers to our way of living, enacting the primeval law regulating both the earthly and heavenly matters. So, if you want to embrace this technique, you must be willing to fully adapt yourself to nature’s order.
What is Taoist Meditation?
It is sometimes known as Daoism. It refers to a technique emphasizing on the need of living harmoniously in one’s surroundings. The practice shows you the correct path or way to follow to maintain this harmony or merely balance the Yin and Yang.
The practice will also detail how you should act and adapt to the changing cycles of nature (2). The technique merely asks you to go with the flow. So, instead of trying to change the impact of nature, simply embrace it and give in to its forces.
Read More: What Is Meditation: Benefits and Techniques
Why Do Taoist Meditation?
The benefits of doing this reflective style include:
Reduced Stress Levels
Perhaps the greatest benefit of trying out any meditative practice is the reduction in stress levels. We often face multiple stressors in our daily lives, most of which contribute to our high-stress levels.
Although you cannot escape them all, you can at least reduce your stress levels by trying out Taoist meditation. The technique reduces your stress levels by helping you regulate the stressors in your daily life.
The technique will require you to concentrate and focus on your breathing and posture. Focusing on these factors helps minimize your distractions. The same technique applies when you are faced with stressors.
Instead of focusing on the stressors, narrow down your concentration to your inner peace and calmness. Focus on your breathing to ensure that it is controlled. The calmness and peace you attain will reduce your stress, consequently improving your mental health.
Some Chinese patients believe that pain arises when there is a Yin and Yang imbalance in your body (8). Therefore, to manage the pain, they resolve in measures that restore this Yin and Yang balance.
According to the ancient Chinese teachings, you can restore the Yin and Yang balance by doing Taoist meditation. So, instead of popping pain killers, they engage in this reflective practice.
They believe it will restore their Yin and Yang balance and enhance harmony between their bodies and environment. Ultimately, this will relieve them of their pain. You must consult with your practitioner before trying out this practice for pain management.
Similarly, as a practitioner, you must understand this practice before recommending it for pain management. Any misinterpretation of the practice can lead to health complications or undesired outcomes.
Improved Flow of Inner Energy
Taoism meditation is also considered a technique that can help in improving energy flow. The technique helps in balancing the Yin and Yang, which have a profound impact on energy flows (4).
The Yang component deals with the mind. It is responsible for your emotions. So, when you try out this meditative practice, it helps you manage your emotions better. On the other hand, Yin is responsible for your body.
Balancing your Yin and Yang helps in creating harmony in the systems of your body.
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Taoist Meditation Techniques
There are several types of Taoist meditation. They include:
Breathing is one of the most significant aspects to take note of in the Daoism technique. It involves various body organs such as the lungs, diaphragm, and the intercostal muscles. In this technique, you are required to pay close attention to how you breathe in and breathe out. For starters, breathe in and out through your nose and not your mouth.
Again, when you breathe in, both the diaphragm and intercostal muscles contract and the lungs fill with oxygen.
There are several breathing techniques, some of which include:
1. Deep Breathing
The deep breathing technique requires you take a deep full breath (10). It is one of the most basic forms of breathing that is used in the breathing taoist meditation technique.
To perform it, you only need to:
- Find a cozy position and relax your shoulders
- Slowly inhale and let your lungs fill up with oxygen
- Slowly breathe out to empty your lungs
The deep breathing method is preferred in breathing Taoist meditation as it creates a sense of peace and calmness. Its simplicity makes it a great deep breathing technique for beginners.
2. Mindful Breathing
As the name implies, this technique requires you to be mindful or pay close attention to the way you breathe. All you have to do is concentrate on the slow rhythm of your breathing. It is also another incredible breathing technique to consider if you are just starting your meditation journey.
3. Natural Breathing
Natural breathing is another common breathing technique applied in the breathing Taoist meditation method. The idea is to inhale and fill up your belly with oxygen. As you breathe in, your diaphragm flattens and chest cavity expands to accommodate more air.
However, when you exhale, the diaphragm regains its curve shape and the chest cavity contracts. It is an excellent breathing method as it makes it easier to implement in the breathing Taoist meditation technique.
Benefits of Breathing Meditation
The advantages of adopting this practice include:
Increased Calmness and Clarity
The practice allows you to focus on your breathing, which ultimately calms and relaxes you (1). By concentrating on your respiration, you avoid focusing on some bewildering thoughts that can increase your stress levels.
Similarly, as you focus on your breathing, you get to work on your clarity levels.
By learning to control your breathing, you also gain self-control and the ability to apply it in other areas. For example, you may acquire control over your emotions, regulating how you react to and manage them.
In the breathing technique, your sole focus should be on your breathing. It means that this method teaches you how to narrow down your focus to things that matter. It comes in handy in helping you retrace your focus, especially when there are so many distracting things around you.
The other type of guided Taoist meditation is known as the emptiness meditation method. In this reflective approach, you only need to find a cozy spot and re-evaluate yourself and how you navigate life (9).
You are expected to strip your mind and being of everything until you attain a sense of emptiness and tranquillity. Although it sounds quite easy, it is indeed tricky, especially for beginners. Therefore, it is recommended that they give this practice a try with the help of a guide.
Why Try Emptiness Meditation?
Emptying your mind and body of all sensations, feelings and thoughts is quite useful. It is such a calming feeling to just do away with these thoughts and find inner peace. The other advantages of trying out this practice include:
- Increased positivity. When you tap in that feeling of inner peace, all the nagging negative thought will leave you alone. So, you tend to focus more on positive emotions such as compassion and love.
- Better sleep. Trying this technique before you retire to bed can help you to quickly and easily fall asleep. Besides creating a peaceful environment, it slowly eases you into a state of complete and total relaxation.
How to Do Taoist Meditation?
The correct steps to take to try this practice include:
Finding a Cozy Position
There is an assumption that the only comfortable position for meditation is sitting (5). However, this is not the case. You can also meditate while lying down, walking or even standing. So, do not limit yourself to only a sitting position.
If you are not comfortable with it, you can try this practice as you lay down. Your position will also be influenced by the number and type of distractions around. If you choose to lay down, then you may be distracted by your heavy head and end up falling asleep.
Again, if you sit down, you may be distracted by the poor positioning of your arms and/or legs. The best position to try out Taoist meditation is any between the two:
The Sitting Position
Find a comfortable seat and get cozy. Let your arms rest on your lap. It will minimize fidgeting. Your back should be straight to avoid any back pains. Similarly, your chin should be slightly tucked and eyes closed.
The Lotus Position
The lotus position is also known as the sukhasana position (7). You are required to sit on the floor. So, ensure you sit on a comfortable carpet or a yoga mat. After sitting down, you must cross your legs to come into the lotus position.
The lotus position has loads of benefits. It can help in stretching your legs, hips, and pelvis. In turn, this increases your flexibility. However, this position is not the easiest, especially for beginners.
Since getting into a full lotus pose is quite a challenge, beginners should start with a half-lotus pose.
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Focusing on Your Respiration
The second step in practising Taoist meditation is concentrating on your breathing. In this practice, you are only required to breathe through your mouth. This is the first pointer that all beginners have to know.
Taoist breathing for tai chi and meditation requires you to implement deep breathing. So take slow and deep breaths that will eventually help you attain inner peace and calmness. You can hold your Taoist meditation beads as you focus on your breathing. They may help limit your fidgeting.
With your focus now on your breathing, the next thing you now need to do is contemplate. It is challenging for beginners to immediately start contemplating. So, their minds will often start wandering and it is common to fidget and lose concentration (6).
In such a case, you are advised to practice this technique with a guide. After you start reflecting, you slowly begin to tap into a sense of emptiness, if you are practising emptiness meditation.
You do not have to meditate for one hour or thirty minutes for it to count as Taoist meditation. Instead, try freeing your mind of all the background chatter for as long as you can. Even if it’s less than 5 minutes. Eventually, you will be able to increase your meditation time once you get the hang of this technique. Start small and gradually increase your zen time.
Enjoying the Moment
Your fifteen or thirty minutes of practising Taoist meditation should not be torturous. Instead, they should be relaxing and appealing. Some Taoist meditation tips to consider:
Keeping It Short
Meditating for five or ten minutes is better off for beginners than sitting for thirty minutes and hating the whole experience. So, first, try reflecting for ten minutes. If you enjoy it, gradually increase your meditation time.
Doing The Technique Correctly
When you do it correctly, you get to enjoy its benefits, which are viewed as rewards. And who doesn’t like to see the fruits of their labor?
Similarly, you can enjoy this contemplative practice by seeking help when you need it. If you discover you never gain anything from the technique, then it is high time to try guided Taoist meditation.
You do not have to struggle through it alone. Download an app or contact a professional to help you enjoy the technique more.
Doing It At The Right Time
You must identify the best time to meditate using this method. Otherwise, bad timing can hugely influence how much and if you enjoy this practice. If you try this technique when tired or bored, chances are you will hardly like it.
The Bottom Line
Taoist meditation is one of the best contemplative practices to consider if you want to achieve inner peace. Depending on the technique you choose, you can easily attain inner tranquillity and balance your energy flows.
Likewise, it can help in boosting your positive emotions and suppressing your negative ones. However, you can reap all the benefits only if you do the technique correctly. If you are a beginner, start with a guided Taoist meditation.
Watch this relaxing meditation video to steer your mind away from the negative and not let your self-defeating inner dialogue dictate the rules.
The views expressed in this article do not represent the advice of any physician. Consult with your doctor before upholding this technique for any of the stated benefits.
- Are breathing techniques good for your health? (2020, theguardian.com)
- Concepts Within the Chinese Culture That Influence the Cancer Pain Experience (2008, medscape.com)
- Medical Definition of Oriental medicine (traditional) (2020, medicinenet.com)
- Medicine in motion: How Tai Chi heals body and mind (2019, edition.cnn.com)
- Relaxation techniques for stress (2018, medlineplus.gov)
- Sit Still for 5 Minutes a Day (2020, webmd.com)
- Sitting on the floor: Is it better than sitting on a chair? (2020, edition.cnn.com)
- Spirituality and Aging (2010, medscape.com)
- These 4 Teachings of Daoism Will Help You Navigate Life (2018, goodnet.org)
- Useful breathing techniques to consider trying (2020, medicalnewstoday.com)