In the Taoist school to which I belong, there are five steps to calm the shen (spirit), to be happy but also available in a violent confrontation:
* The stage of “thought-form”
* Intentional regulation of respiration,
* Work intended to calm the emotional,
* Presence by the sensation of energy,
* “Balancing” of shen for the realisation of unity.
The stage of the thought-form is quite simple and does not require regular physical work. Any athlete can get to this stage without problems. We need to do this, to come to understand intellectually what is done with his body and be able to do with the body what we understand with the mind. It is a co-ordination pushed to the extreme with a conceptualisation “realised” or an action “conceptualised”. In Taoism, we are talking about a union between the manifest and non manifest, which is (action) and what is not (thought). For specific exercises, we will bring the body and mind together, not to contradict oneself and not “think”, but to do. Obviously I could not do with my body more than it is physically possible to complete: I can understand jumping before i do it, but I have to prepare the body to achieve it. In one year, as part of smart training, it is very possible to achieve this. To get to the bottom of this stage, it is useful to separate each body part, every joint, every muscle chain, to unite them into a global movement. The secret of this stage is the practice of the relaxation of the mind through the co-ordination of a calm body. It is not necessary to become “better”, it is simply to relax the conditioning and relax your body-mind to “recover” a natural spontaneity. The limits of this stage are visualisations (very fashionable for some time) that reinforce too powerfully the mental. It will be possible to go faster in this stage through the visualisations, but it will cause problems later.
The regulation of breathing is a step that we could name the “conscious breathing”. The game, or games that can be done with the mechanics of breathing are just that: games. These “toys” only serve to focus our dispersed minds and compulsions on our breath. If we remain prisoners of these breathing protocols, everything will be useless in a real situation. A breath trained under a strict form cannot adapt to a chaotic situation. If the breath isn’t free and is without conscious intention on the present, it can not be relaxed in a situation and the intention will be occupied with something else. More concretely, if the work of breathing requires an image or a specific intent, it will be impossible to do that in a situation or thought is fixed on a escape or a fear. While it is important to “keep” the mind on the breath at the beginning of practice, it must be free to using it. In the relaxation of light intention, body and breath will be required to carry out increasingly complex things to unify without thoughts. With free gestures and the breathe united and difficulties disturbed … its a reason to end unnecessary cardio-vascular work fighters in the internal arts: the combat for life or a walk in the moonlight does not disturb the rhythm of the heart … its the ideal, of course …
The thoughts disturb the breathing through their densification in emotions and the body will tighten with the altered breathing. It is therefore absolutely necessary to deal with some form of emotional regulation. In the Taoist internal alchemy, we have an important point: “calming the thoughts”, which is useful here. The thoughts are reactions “sick” perceptions of changes in the world. Although the use of the intellect to address the actions of everyday life is useful, this compulsive commentary of the perceptions is unnecessary most of the time. The thoughts will refer to our memory or our imagination, past or future, to build on the world of thoughts, what is the present. In the Taoist techniques, we will expand our relationship to these perceptions, in a relaxation of the mind and body and a connection to the breathing. For these exercises are very simple, but continuous, we will not feed the world of thoughts, and reduce the emotional disturbance to a minimum. The idea is certainly not to “control” or “delete” the emotions, but to live without suffering. Perceptions which will focus thoughts that will cause emotions which will manifest as a change in energy, physical and emotional. By relaxing the body, listening to our breath linked to our emotional state, we are in agreement with changes in our body and can live with our emotions. We believe we have emotions, we breathe, everything will pass without collision between these phenomena: the breath does not cause tension, that does not activate thoughts, that does not produce emotions, that do not tense the body and are not blocking the breath (all combinations are possible), Etc. ….
This work will be done through exercises that will maintain a slight but steady intention. Latter, The internal silence connects slowly, allowing us to better to listen and move in the direction of changes in the world.
In listening, the result of a relaxed body, of regulated breathing and a relatively silent interior, we can enter into a tangible energy perception. The vision of the world energy follows the Taoist cosmology, everything is a manifestation of a single reality, non manifest, which we call the Dao. By connecting to this energy, we leave thought and time. In a total listening, not commented on, our vibration is in resonance with the Tao, we leave the worldly and conditioning to restore the simplicity of the sensation. In this vibration, while remaining within the respect of the work, the mind is silent and the body available: par excellence, we are prepared to wait without anything, we are in a relaxed opportunity to react to perceived changes. This condition is also utilised in listening to a person, in walking in the fight for survival.
The work described so far is sufficient to be ready in the natural state of happiness that should amaze us every day … it is not always the case. The world is in perpetual change, even in a very Taoist non resistance, we will undergo “life with good and bad sides”. The relaxation of the body-mind allows you to surf on our daily lives without “drowning”, to be ready for any surprises that are revealed to us, with this sense of cosmic humour that life takes. We can also decide that we want life and our practice to merge to go to the heart of practice: the spiritual and initiatory phase of the path that exceeds the limits of the subject.