Practical Meditation Tips: What Should I do if I suddenly feel like falling asleep?

March 24, 2017

Welcome to practical meditation tips, an ongoing feature on this blog in which we discuss meditation practice and how to improve the results of your meditation.
This week we are going to deal with the specific problem of what to do when you suddenly become sleepy during practice.

Before gong further, we need to differentiate that there are two types of sleepiness in meditation practice. The first comes from actually being tired, which may be due to lack of sleep, or time of day, circadian rhythm and so on. Regarding this type of sleepiness, usually it is something that you will have brought in to the practice with you and usually it means that you ought to go to bed as soon as you have the chance.
The second type of sleepiness is the one I would like to deal with and it is a sudden unexpected tiredness that usually occurs within the first 15 to 45 minutes of a meditation session.
Generally, this feeling manifests as a desire to immediately lie down and go to sleep. If you lie down at this time, it will be very easy to sleep, but this is not the preferred mode of practice. Why is this?
In order to understand this problem, we need to know a bit about the effects of meditation on the body.
It is very common when meditating for the mind and nervous system to calm down to the point that the body is tricked into believing it is time for bed. Because of this, we can experience feelings of tiredness even when we are wide awake. This feeling is similar to the feeling that we might experience when we awake from bed a couple hours before normal wake up time. For instance, if you wake up to use the washroom and then go back to bed, you may find that it is very easy to doze back off to sleep, and much less trouble than setting your head down to rest at your normal bed time.
In meditation, what this usually indicates is that the body and mind are about to enter the invisible gate between regular consciousness and what Daoists call the “Pre Heaven” state. The pre heaven state is the time when the mind seems to disappear for an indefinite amount of time and then upon reappearing, usually creates a strong sensation of Qi energy in the body. This state is very important in meditation practice and represents the time when we cease to control the functioning of our bodies, but rather give over functioning to our subconscious mind and body. This is a time when the body and mind are at rest and when a great deal of healing occurs. It is also the time when we experience genuine nothingness and are thus able to undergo spiritual metamorphosis. This metamorphosis allows us to reemerge into the “Post Heaven” state with an intrinsic energetic connection from head to toe and all throughout the body. This feeling of energy is different from the Qi energy normally created during intentional Qi Gong and meditation practice and instead of being directed by our minds, simply directs itself. Although it is difficult to say what creates the energy sensation, it is possible that deep meditation elicits the release of certain types of hormones which make us feel comfortable and have a healing effect on body and psyche.
Because the sudden sleepy feeling is a precursor to this type of energetic catharsis, it is very important to practice through it to get the most benefit. The best way to do this is that as soon as you feel suddenly tired, recognize that this is a symptom of correct meditation and do not comply with your urge to lie down. instead, maintain your attention on meditation, relax your breathing, and empty you mind, staying like this for as long as possible. With enough perseverance, when the time is right, you will be able to use this method to great benefit and learn how to transverse the boundaries between conscious and unconscious/post heaven and pre heaven.

Thanks for reading this post,
if you have any questions, please feel free to comment below.

March 18, 2017

求仙不识真铅汞,闲读丹书千万篇。
Those who implore immortals won’t realize true lead and mercury.
Calmly read the alchemical books over and over again.

内里明来是至真,外边入者即非亲。
When you know their inner principle then arrive at what is real.
Anything coming from outside (the body) is not the real ancestor.
– Chen xiyi, pointing out the mystery essay.

A brief section from the He Shang Gong commentary of the Dao De Jing

March 16, 2017
The Riverside Elder wrote one of the earliest commentaries on the Dao De Jing.  It invokes theories of the five spirits and self cultivation as central precepts of its practice.
The Riverside Elder wrote one of the earliest commentaries on the Dao De Jing. It invokes theories of the five spirits and self cultivation as central precepts of its practice.

Commentary Taken from the first chapter:

常名當如嬰兒之未言,雞子之未分,明珠在蚌中,美玉處石間,內雖昭昭,外如愚頑。
The always present name is like a child who has not yet spoken. 
Like an egg, not yet opened. 
Like the bright pearl in the clam. 
Like beautiful Jade in the centre of stone. 
Although inside it is bright and shining,
its outside is stupid and dull.

– From He Shan Gong Dao De Jing commentary, chapter one.

Four Ancient Rules for Water Selection in Tea Brewing

March 7, 2017

muzhacreek
Even though this stream at Mao Kong in Northern Taiwan is beautiful, it isn’t the best one to get tea water from. You would be better off getting water from its origin, a spring perhaps located higher up on the mountain.

Brewing tasty tea is not a trivial task, and this is something that the tea lovers of ancient China understood very well. Throughout the history of the cultural development of tea, there have been several important works of tea literature left behind for future generations to ponder. The most famous of these is the Classic of Tea by Lu Yu, but other books such as Speaking on Tea (Cha Shuo), Discussion of Tea (Cha Lun) and others left behind much of what we need to know about the most essential elements of tea appreciation.
Something featuring prominently in every tract is the importance of water selection.
In this short essay I will touch on the four major components of water selection and what they mean.
Lets Start, shall we?

1:
Yuan:
yuan means origin and it points to the origin of the water we use for brewing tea. Water can commonly be found in four major places:
a) mountain springs,
b) wells,
c) creeks, rivulets, rivers and so on,
d) ponds and other sitting bodies of water.
I have intentionally left rain out here because there is only a very small amount of information in the various classics of tea which refer to collecting rain water or snow, and these are mainly contained within the novel A Dream of Red Mansions, and are meant to be read in a satirical manner.
Of all of these sources, springs are considered to be the best, wells are considered acceptable, creeks and rivers are to be avoided, and sitting water is right out.
Before we explain more about why this is, lets look at the oher three major rules for selecting water. Hopefully this rules will help illustrate why the above categories of water origin are thus organized.

2:
Huo:
Huo means life and refers to the water having an “alive” feeling. The alive feeling essentially means that the water has a certain degree of oxygenation that comes from being from a moving source. This aliveness of water goes away when it is let to sit still for too long and can result in the water becoming stale and even accumulating nasty bacteria which can be unhealthy. in any event, fresh water makes better tea.

3:
Gan:
Gan Means sweet and tea water should be slightly sweet in taste. This is usually a biproduct of source and is one of the reasons why it is preferable to choose water from mountain springs and then wells. Mountain spring water generally tends to be very sweet and soft in taste and well water is at least passable. Water from rivers is usually polluted with the detritus of the river and as a result, is generally not as good as the other two sources. Again, water from pools is usually right out, since it has often been sitting and collecting garbage for a long time.

4:
Qing:
Qing means clear, but it also means clean. Tea water must be clean because any filth in the water will ultimately go on to negatively affect the taste of the tea.

So we can see by these four points that selecting water for tea starts with the source and should conform to the simple rules that it has a living quality, is sweet, and is clear of contamination. This makes it much easier for us to figure out what kind of water we ought to use to brew our favourite teas and hopefully adds an extra dimension of interest to the hobby of tea, since it gives us something to consider, experiment with, and eventually come to master.

If you liked this article, please consider visiting the tea section of my website to have a look at my catalogue of wonderful (mostly Oolong) teas. :)

four trigrams discussion.

March 5, 2017

qian

The Qian Trigram represents the sky, clarity, and movement. It is the extreme of Yang energy and represents the original spirit of people.

li-gua

The Li Trigram represents fire and the sun, it has a broken yin line inside of Yang and represents our consciousness, which is both made up of nature (the outside Yang lines) and feeling (the inside yin line). It also refers to the heart (Yang) and the oxygen in our blood (Yin).

kan

The Kan Trigram represents water. It has two broken yin lines with a yang line inside it and also represents out kidneys. The solid line represents life energy which is hidden deeply within us.

kun

The Kun trigram represents earth and the corporeal body. Any physical form without movement is represented by this element and it is considered to be representative of death but also as the root of life.

These four trigrams are very important in meditation theory, since our goal is to abandon ourselves to the deep yin state of the earth trigram in order to cause the latent energy within the water trigram to shift and replace the yin energy of the fire trigram, thus changing out regular consciousness from the mind of consciousness and emotions, to the mind of pure consciousness, in which emotional feeling is replaced with the feeling of life energy.
Because the mind has latent feeling, which is yin and considered to be heavy, we can use this feeling to allow the consciousness to sink and become heavy, allowing the latent energy hidden within the water trigram to rise up, thus allowing us to attain vitality and awareness of universal reality not polluted by our thoughts and feelings.

Quote of the day: from xing Ming fa jue Ming zhi.

March 2, 2017

每于静坐之前,
Every time before you meditate,
务要扫除一切杂念。
Make it your work to dispense with all random thoughts.
宽放衣带,身体不受束缚,
Relax your belt and clothes, the body shouldn’t be hindered.
自然血脉流通无阻。
The blood meridians will naturally flow everywhere without obstruction.
– recorded by the student of Qian Feng Lao Ren.

This Daoist Life Podcast: Daoism in modern society.

February 28, 2017

This week we look into the fundamental axioms of Daoism and how we can use them to model life in a 21st century modern secular society.
Link Below:

Does Daoism have a political world view?

February 27, 2017

Does Daoism have a political world view:

Does Daoism have a political world view?
This is a very important question to our pursuit of a modern Daoist rationale.
It is fundamental to deciding how we will choose to interpret the teachings of Daoism, how accurate our interpretations can be, and what, if any direction Daoism will take in shaping the ongoing philosophical discussion.
Daoist ideas are used as a rationale for the views of many groups, most notably Anarcho Communists and Libertarians. These disparate groups of people see Daoist concepts such as non cultural non interference on the part of government as a legitimization of their often radical political opinions.
It is true that to some extent, Daoist ideas such as non violence, not imposing state doctrine and other various important philosophical items from the Dao De Jing and Nan Hua Jing seem to give some credence to these anti authoritarian political movements, but as the old saying goes, correlation does not indicate causality.

So what is the political view of Daoism and how can it be interpreted for the modern world?
I argue that the political view of Daoism is historically bound and anachronistic.
It is something which is trapped into each school of thought in Daoism, just as the language of the classics is bound by the grammatical conventions of the times they were written.
Perhaps the earliest Daoist writings represent a type of benevolent monarchism, tinged by the threat of folk rebellion, enemy army incursion, and other dangers. In a sense, it is a kind of bandaid for leaders to use in order to cover the wounds created by the excesses of their rule.
Daoism is anachronistic, yet it contains a latent truth to it which is the reason why it has been so worthy of studying for the last two and a half milliard.
This latent truth is the kernel of Daost thought and the foundational kernel of the Chinese cosmological world view. It is the containment of three big principles, one passive and feminine, one active and masculine, and one which is a combination of those two, the child of the heavenly mother and revered father, humanity and being itself.
So almost regardless of the world view of Daoism, native to its own times and places, and often contradictory, there is always the most basic kernel, which is that combination of still, moving, and combined stillness and movement.

Stillness and movement are expressed in yin and yang and their combination forms the grand ultimate taiji principle. The quiet and clarity classic is thus named in order to refer to the perfect alignment of yin and yang for human use. The benefit of yin is in its quiet and stability, the benefit of yang is in its clarity and free movement. If one can long be quiet and clear, one can long perceive things as they are and be one with the Dao of nature.

Does Daoism have a political ideology?
This is perhaps beyond our direct purview, but if it does, it certainly springs from this.

The small Daoist Canon: on Illness and medicine

February 24, 2017

The small Daoist canon has three chapters dedicated to methods of self control and how to cure oneself of the illnesses of consciousness.
The third section of this chapter contains two major lists, one comprised of illnesses and one comprised of medicines. A semi regular feature on this blog will be to post one or two illnesses and their remedies. The first two illnesses are:

喜怒无常是一病。
xi nu wu chang shi yi bing:

the inconstancy of affection and anger are one disease.

忘义取利是一病。
wang yi qu li shi yi bing:

forgetting righteousness and grasping at benefit are one disease.

The medicine are:

体弱性柔是一药。
Ti ruo, xing rou shi yi yao:

a supple body and softened consciousness are one medicine.

行宽心和是一药。
xing kuan xin he shi yi yao:

Vast in action with a harmonious heart is one medicine.

As you can see all illnesses of the mind have remedies and they are not overly complex. Simply being more calm, more relaxed, and in harmony with your environs is already enough to cure the first two diseases of excessive emotion and greed.
These types of practices are defined in Daoism as “Ren yuan” the practice of humanity, and are designed in such a way that the mind and the body are in cooperation at all times, not just on the meditation pillow.
This type of practice is not meditation, but it uses the benefit that meditation provides in order to maintain a more just and better life.

A Daoist healthcare passage from the small Daoist Canon.

February 23, 2017

夫养性之道,
He who cultivates the way of nurturing the mind
勿久行、久坐、
must not walk too long or sit too long.

久听、久视,
listen too long, or watch too long,

不强食,不强饮,
shouldn’t eat too much or become too hungry.

亦不可忧思愁哀。
he also shouldn’t let his mind wander or think about worries or sadness

饥乃食,渴乃饮。
if hungry, then eat, if thirsty, then drink.

食止,行数百步,大益人。

After finishing eating, walk one hundred steps and you will get great benefit.

夜勿食,若食即行约五里,无病损。
Don’t eat at night, if you eat, then walk five li (Li is an ancient Chinese unit of distance), and you won’t become sick.

日夕有所营为,不住为佳,不可至疲极,不得大安无所为也。
day and night as though you have an “encampment” mentality, not resting is the best. but do not allow yourself to become totally fatigued, or else you will not achieve great silence and no need for action.

故曰:流水不腐,户枢不蠹。以其劳动不息也。
The Classics say: streaming water does not go foul. If the window’s hing has no worms, and it can keep working with no rest.