An ongoing debate in the internal alchemy school has been in regard to how to attain an unwavering and unbroken attention and what part of the body to set ones focus on.
This debate has occurred both in ancient meditation texts and in the modern discourse.
Points of debate often focus on whether to direct the attention to the lower abdomen, or between the eyebrows, or whether to direct the attention to the breath and ignore physical sensations altogether.
In fact, each of these ideas exist in classical internal alchemy literature, but in practice it is relatively immaterial as to which one is used, as the most important thing is receiving the instruction of a true teacher. A true teacher is someone who has attained the effects of internal alchemy and can guide you through the stages of practice.
Usually it is best if you find a master level teacher, but an experienced student or disciple who has achieved the foundations of internal alchemy can also assist in your practice.
Internal alchemy is very technically oriented and requires supervision at first, so having a teacher is very important.
The fact of the matter is that achieving genuine focus in meditation practice is not based on using one or other physical location to direct your intent, or even on one specific breathing method. These methods only serve as anchors in your practice and help you slow down the thoughts and bring more pure oxygen into your body.
This is why many of the best internal alchemy masters said that focusing on specific practices such as directing the mind to the abdomen, or monitoring the breath are “Side doors” to the Dao and not the big gate which can reveal the true nature of our spiritual potential.
Some people on internet forums have taken this to mean that practising internal alchemy thus requires us to achieve a state of total nothingness and nothing else, or that we should only slightly focus on the breath. While these types of practice are permissible and can glean real effects if used correctly and in an ongoing fashion, the real basis of internal alchemy practice is simply in making the mind stable and there is more than one means by which to achieve this mental state.
The admonition that focusing on the physical aspects of practice are a side door are not meant to discourage the use of these “anchors,” but rather to encourage the practitioner not to become too caught up on the corporeal art, and instead focus on stilling the mind and body such that neither of them move around during the outset of practice.
If you can achieve stillness of body and mind and attune the breath such that it is comfortable and ongoing, you will already have the most important basis for meditation. Every other point at which the mind focuses at this time will be peripheral to the stopping of movement in body and mind.
Please note that this post only discusses the most basic aspects of internal alchemy meditation and does not go into advanced technical concepts like timing the fire or controlling qi energy.
If you would like to know more about these subjects, please read my book or take one of my courses on the subject of internal alchemy meditation.
Thanks for reading,