Google the word “Taoism” and you’ll soon come across the word “mysterious.” More of a lifestyle than a religion, Taoism is an ancient philosophy consisting of practices drawn from the Chinese schools of thought – and when we say ancient, we mean ancient, dating as far back as 142 C.E.
Closely related to nature, some describe Taoism as a culture of “non-competitive(ness) and non-hurting” which “teaches following the rules of nature.” Others, such as Taoist Abbess YIN XINHUI, describe it as a “great tradition.” As XINHUI states in an article with The New York Times: “Some people don’t even know the basics of Taoism but treat it like a business. This isn’t good in the long-term.”
Taoism For Beginners
According to Personal Tao, “each person can discover the Tao on their own terms.” The Taoism 101 guide explains that Taoism starts with self-discovery as well as accepting yourself and your nature. There are hundreds of variations, but some basic guidelines include: “be true to (yourself),” “discover a set of practices to aid keeping the mind, body, and spirit engaged and strong” and “take time, relax and just explore.” Many Taoists adopt traditional Chinese exercises within their routine, such as Tai chi, meditation, and/or qigong, in an attempt to create their own wellbeing practice
Taoism and healing
Taoism relies on energy management techniques with a focus on self-healing and self-improvement. Brought to Western culture by Taoist Master Mantak Chia, the Universal Healing Tao draws on ancient Chinese healing traditions. It is a holistic approach to healing which, as stated on the Mantak Chia website, consists of:
- Energy Cultivation
- Chi Nei Tsang Practices
- Cosmic Healing Practices
- Internal Martial Arts Practices
- Inner Alchemy and Immortal Tao Practices
Tao Health Qu Gong notes that “Whilst each level brings immediate benefits, it takes years of practice to become a true master of these exercises, and most people will need a lifetime just to master the foundation level.”
Applying Taoism to everyday life
Mastering the Universal Healing Tao stages takes a lifetime, but there are simple Tao wellness practices anyone can incorporate. Being mindful of your posture can make a world of difference. Online resource sanctuaryoftao.org states:“Zen master Dogen equated correcting the posture and breathing as being the primary cause of achieving enlightenment”.
Whether you sit while you read [maybe you’re sitting right now?] or in preparation for a meditation practice,your structural foundation is key. Use a consciously-selected cushion, mat, or chair. When sitting in the full-lotus posture, face both feet toward the sky while the body is held “upright and erect.” If sitting on a chair, place both feet flat on the ground at a 90-degree angle, slightly apart. Thighs should be level and feet should be in line with each other.
“You only need to keep correcting the posture to find the perfection of being completely at ease,” the website says. “Keep the breath soft in the lower abdomen, like a gentle breeze entering and departing from the body.”
The organization explains that, by standing, we activate our sympathetic nervous system. That’s connected to our body’s flight or fight response. Qigong standing practices are designed to help conserve, balance and transform our inner energies while opening our bodies to the energies of the earth, nature and the heavens.” Observe how you stand for a few days before consciously balancing your weight on both feet with your hands hanging at your sides. See this full article for guidance.
As described on nathanbrine.com (a Taoist Alchemy resource founded by Taoist practitioner Nathan Brine), Taoist walking is a meditative practice that combines an awareness of “breath, body, mind, spirit, and qi with () brisk walking.” The practice aims to combine this awareness with being in nature and forming a connection with your environment. For more information on Taoist Walking, visit nathanbrine.com.
Where can I learn more about Taoism and healing?
To learn more about Taoism, you might want to read The Yellow Emperor’s Classic of Medicine and/or The Complete System of Self-Healing. Plantie also has plenty of resources to support you on your healing journey, such as: 10 Powerful Crystals Every Person Should Own.