How a Taoism Practices

This text outlines my practice of Neidan, or Internal Alchemy, which is part of the Quanzhen Temple of Taoism. I focus on an inward, natural approach, emphasizing emptiness and spirituality.

**Practice Requirements**

I perform this practice once upon waking and once before sleeping. If time allows, I also do it in the afternoon. The duration is flexible. I approach the practice slowly and naturally, without focusing on appearances or controlling my breathing. I close my mouth slightly with my teeth lightly touching and my tongue resting against the roof of my mouth. I sit straight with an erect spine, relaxed shoulders, and a contained chest. My eyes are nearly closed (as if lowering a curtain). I place both hands lightly on my lower Dantian in the Taiji symbol posture. Either crossed-legged or in a natural sitting position is acceptable. I breathe out turbid air from my mouth and then slowly inhale fresh air through my nose, replenishing the air expelled from my Dantian. I exhale quickly and inhale slowly, fully exhaling and inhaling. I repeat this breathing three times to expel all turbid air from my abdomen, then settle my mind, putting all thoughts aside. I redirect my vision and hearing inward, concentrating the essence in my kidneys, guarding my eyes, the soul in my liver, guarding my mouth, the spirit in my heart, guarding my nose, and the thoughts in my spleen, with concentrated intent.

1. **Seeding Method (Unblocking the Ren Meridian, Qi sinks to Dantian)**
I focus my spirit on the Qi-point, directing my mental energy and gaze inwardly, gathering Qi at my lower Dantian. I sink my Qi deeply into a state of utter emptiness and tranquility, reaching into chaos, forgetting self and others, achieving extreme stillness and depth.

2. **Harvesting Method (Unblocking the Du Meridian, Qi flows through three gates)**
Once the foundation of chaos is established and the first signs of Yang emerge, energizing the kidney area, I reflect my spirit back to the Qi-point. I use the wind of breath to blow the Ming Palace’s departing fire, stoking the inner flame, focusing solely on the vital energy without concerning my breathing. I harvest when breathing in with intention and exhale without focus, letting go after each breath, continuing until the external kidney area is completely purified.

3. **Refining Method (Connecting the Ren and Du Meridians, circulation through the Microcosmic Orbit)**
The medicine is now in the crucible; I apply the forging techniques rapidly. I use breathing for both gathering and refining. I maintain focus on the Qi-point, suspending natural breathing for cooking and refining. I ascend with intention and descend with purpose; gather with inhalation and cook with exhalation. I keep the movements smooth and avoid abruptness. I use thirty-six or seventy-two breaths as measures, fanning open my Dantian’s Qi until self-blowing ceases, transitioning from intentional to unintentional actions, transforming all essence into vital energy, returning it to the life palace.

4. **Nurturing Method (Sealing the crucible to guard the elixir, nurturing the primal spirit)**
I cease intentional breathing, using natural exhalation to warm and nurture the spirit. I begin with awareness and reflection in inaction. I calmly focus my spirit on the Qi-point, gently using breath to nurture like a slowly burning ember, constantly present. My spirit and breath depend on each other, guarding without holding, exhaling without ceasing, all spirit returning to a state of calm stillness, unknowingly entering into the profound chaos. This is called nurturing; this is called the gentle fire of cultivation.

**Ending the Practice**

When I feel it’s time to end the sitting, I don’t get up hastily. I slowly disperse my focus; I swallow the saliva and the elixir slowly, releasing my hands and rubbing them warm before performing a washing gesture over my face. Then, I cover my eyes with my palms without letting light in, slowly parting my fingers to let the light in gradually, and following with the below methods:

– **Drumming the Heavenly Drum**: I cover my ears with my hands, flicking my index fingers down from the middle fingers, imitating the action of drumming, practiced twenty-four times.
– **Teeth Grinding Method**: I grind my upper and lower teeth back and forth ten times, then swallow the air, practiced seven times.
– **Kneading the Niwan Palace**: I cover the Kunlun point at the back of my head with one hand, and knead the hairline at the front of my head, which is the Niwan Palace, alternating hands, twenty-four times each.
– **Brightening the Eyes Method**: I cross my hands with the little fingers underneath, using the backs of the large knuckles to massage from the sides of the nose across the

eyes to the temples, circling around the eye sockets, twenty-four times.
– **Rubbing the Pillar**: I lift my hands to the Niwan Palace, then rub the back of my neck, twenty-four times each.
– **Face Rubbing**: I rub my face with both hands thirty-six times until they warm up, then rub the face up and down twenty-four times.
– **Clearing the Ears**: I cover my ears with my hands, gently pressing and releasing like pulling a suction cup, twenty-four times.
– **Back Rubbing**: I warm my hands by rubbing them together, then with clenched fists rub up and down along the waist, twenty-four times.

**Essence Gathering Method**

I harness the essence of the sun and the brilliance of the moon, blending these two energies to foster all creation. Ancient practitioners who mastered this technique could achieve immortality; although partially secret, it is known that without strong determination and persistence, the effort is in vain. For those who succeed, practice must be continuous, unaffected by busyness or external matters. If the essence-gathering practice is uninterrupted, achieving immortality is not difficult. I practice gathering solar essence on new moon days and lunar brilliance on full moon days, adjusting slightly if weather or health conditions are not favorable. I stand facing the sun or moon, balancing my breath, drawing in the light, and swallowing slowly in three parts per breath, totaling twenty-one swallows, then guard my Dantian quietly. Those with perseverance will master this practice.

**Sleep Practice (Sleeping Cultivation)**

For practitioners like me refining ourselves through sleep and mystical awareness, I practice during peaceful daytime and night periods. I sit upright, knock my teeth together thirty-six times, gather all internal spirits, then relax my clothing and lie on my side. Half-close my eyes, tongue against the palate, legs bent with one foot tucked, fingers hooked. I place one hand by my side and the other under my arm, circulate the Microcosmic Orbit three times, then return to natural resting.

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