Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Tao of Love And Sex: Sexuality And Human Emotions

Attaining higher levels of consciousness through natural means has always been the goal or aspiration of Taoists. There are many natural ways to facilitate spiritual expansion and the attainment of harmony: breathing, meditation, contemplation of nature (without obsessional reveries, of course), art (nonerotic painting, music, dance), the healing arts (Tai Chi Chuan, qigong, daoyin), the martial arts and warrior ecstasies such as kung fu and strategy (with all due reservations regarding these latter "arts," geared as they are to the taking of human life—Taoists have tended to be crafty diplomats, not fanatic samurais), and, of course, the practice of sex, which, as a method of spiritual attainment, was often criticized by the moralistic Confu-cianists and their modern descendants.

Sex, like art, joy, birth, illness, and death, is one of life's supreme—and supremely powerful—experiences; that is why complete awareness during the sex act can bring about contact with the primordial world, the energy- and consciousness-filled precognitive universe that is the Tao (which some call the "divine"). What is sex, after all, if not the spontaneous manifestation of qtf Qi is universal energy, both subtle and marvelous. It fills the universe and accomplishes various functions, some of them subtle, others not. In sum, every force, every energy, is a manifestation of qi: the circulation of blood, the forces of gravity, attraction, and repulsion.

Though invisible, qi governs the physiological functions and participates in many aspects of the sex act, coordinating the different organs and functions—the sexual organs, blood circulation, the secretion of natural fluids, sensory stimulation, the emission of sperm, sensations—in a variety of ways. All these functions depend on the proper circulation of qi through the network of channels, in the blood, and throughout the nervous system. The quality of qi is thus extremely important for consciousness.

Sex can be different things: It can be a purely mechanical performance or the spontaneous accomplishment of a natural act. When a person is aroused by a film or a fantasy, the desire engendered in him is a pseudodesire. If he acts on this desire, the result is nothing more than a mechanical performance, dictated by a desire that, whether consciously or not, is a purely mental construct. On the other hand, when your sex organ awakens naturally in the middle of the night and you fulfill your natural sexual inclination, you are accomplishing a natural act and replenishing yourself with qi.

This way of looking at things may seem paradoxical to a Westerner, given that many contemporary schools of psychotherapy encourage fantasy through their "talking cures." Let there be no mistake, however: Taoism is not the way of fantasy and dreams but the path of objective truth and enlightened consciousness.

Taoists are of the firm conviction that natural spontaneity is not a commonly encountered human behavioral trait. From this perspective, regaining spontaneity means searching for a state of consciousness in which there are no preconceived ideas, a natural state unencumbered by life-negating thoughts. So often we revel, simply by force of habit, in our melancholy and even morbidity. Sometimes we adopt narrow-minded attitudes and postures of sadness and defend these states vehemently, insisting that we have a right to be sad or feel angry.
Spontaneity of that sort is limited indeed and affects more than our behavior. We must therefore go beyond these appearances and look for the origin of our behavior to see if we can't find a less conditioned source.

That source is the spontaneity of our deep inner nature. Here, too, the practice of meditation turns out to be necessary. As Lao-tzu said, "Original nature can produce all experiences. Original nature is the essence of spontaneous goodness. To be natural in one's actions is to always be pure and calm."

One might thus conclude that to act spontaneously is to behave in a manner appropriate to the present situation with complete sincerity and without malice. This spontaneity seems nearly identical to what we call deep intuition. Without this quality and without nonaction, it is hard to open the energy channels. As the proverb says, "One can't make grass grow by pulling on it!"

As for our daily lives, we often wonder why our minds are so weak, so inconsistent. The Taoists have an answer: when we indiscriminately follow the path of attachment to objects of desire, we weaken shen. The philosophy of nonaction is thus far from representing an anything-goes lifestyle.

A treatise by Huai Nanzi sums it up this way: "When one uses one's consciousness day after day, it moves farther and farther away. It attaches itself to the object of desire and is incapable of returning to man's center." It also seems that on this level the energy of consciousness is attuned to the body's other energies. As the Taiping Jingchao notes,
The energies of the body circulate around it, above it, and below it. The essence of consciousness uses these energies to enter the body and to leave it. When these energies are depleted, the spirit disperses and withdraws, like the fish that dies when the water has dried up.

The romantic feelings, the artificial desires, and unquenchable thirst for experience that present-day society engenders in us are a source more of internal conflict than of freedom in the area of sexuality. The earliest Taoist texts stress the destructive effects of uncontrolled emotions. The old sage Lao-tzu, with his distaist of the five tastes, the five sounds, and the five colors, always kept his distance from sensorial perceptions and the attachments they create. The lines of Lu Dong Bing are as invaluable as ever in helping us understand the phenomenon of conflictual emotions:
Because man has six organs, he develops six consciousnesses and thus six emotions. People do not realize that their emotions keep essential reality hidden from them. And it is when one loses sight of essential reality that the emotions run wild. The root cause of the negative emotions is envy, however. Thus, if you are not dominated by your desires, you will not be irresistibly attracted by things, and if you are not attracted, you will not be disgusted by other things and anger will not be born. And without anger there is neither fear nor sadness.

Other Taoists speak of these emotions as poisons that not only cause conflicts with others but also obstruct the flow of vital energy in very specific ways, resulting in loss of energy, constriction, and stress. It's commonly recognized that anger can raise blood pressure to dangerous levels and that hysterical joy can provoke a heart attack. If these are simply the most glaring manifestations, how many less visible obstructions must there be that little by little imprison the ego in a web of illusion?

It is also common knowledge that many chronic illnesses can be aggravated or even caused in the first place by these emotional obstructions. The way to recovery thus involves a second stage, that of freeing the emotional energies and redirecting them into the functional circuit of qi. It is not really spiritual work but rather a foundation for spiritual work. Many methods in this book work directly or indirectly on the alchemy of the emotions. The path to ridding oneself of these conflicts is simple: one has merely to see that there is no self, at least no real self. How does one become aware of this? By practicing contemplation and meditation. Lu Dong Bing compares the self to a shadow floating in space like the morning mist. How can illness take root in such a shadow? The basic advice on how to manage one's emotions is as follows: "Sit calmly (Tso wang) and observe the emotions rise just as you might watch the morning mist dissipate into the blue sky."

The conflictual emotions create numerous obstacles in us, as much on the physical, organic level as on the social level. The Taoists associated the principal emotions with the cycle of the five phases and the five viscera. This inspired notion allowed them to understand the phenomenon of psychosomatic illnesses long before the term had been invented. They did this by examining the seven emotions (qi qing) and considering their relation to the functioning of qi:
  • Anger provokes a contraction of qi that affects the sinews (causing stress) and the liver.
  • Sadness and remorse provoke loss of qi and chronic fatigue. Lung function is also affected.
  • Anxiety and fear provoke a collapse of qi that damages the kidneys.
  • Melancholy brings stagnation of qi, which obstructs the free functioning of the spleen and stomach.
  • Envy provokes constriction that is akin to anger. » Resentment blocks the expression of energy in the region of the heart.
  • Impulsive joy and hysteria excite the heart and can weaken it to the point of fragility.

This brief description shows that for Taoists the body, energy, and consciousness are intimately linked and that people can become the slaves of their emotions and fall ill as a result. Their freedom thus becomes an illusion. How, then, can one say that emotional self-indulgence is freedom?

People are emotional beings; they are deeply sensitive to what happens around them and are always involving themselves, sometimes unwittingly, in complicated relationships. They want to be happy, but their happiness rests on a sweet illusion. They welcome life's good sides and stubbornly refuse to face up to its difficult moments. If the extreme emotions can so easily cause us to lose our balance, then how can we look on our emotions as clouds moving across the sky? The Taoists' response to this question is that we must make the attempt and practice as often as we can. In the beginning, this process seems intellectual, but visualization (tzi) and the cultivation of quietude give this method a natural force.

In China today, certain qigong methods are practiced with the aim of producing emotional release or violent upheaval. Many of these practices have no basis in traditional Taoist methodology. What's more, some of these schools have fallen under the sway of Western psychotherapy. Dr. Pang Heming, director of the Zhi Neng Qigong Hospital, objects to these practices in the strongest possible terms: "In China, many people practice qigong and experience episodes of uncontrollable screaming, crying, shaking, and many other so-called paranormal phenomena. This merely proves their total lack of a solid foundation. These illusory events are taken as signs of real progress."

The term "quietude" ought not be understood as a negative state excluding all sensorial or emotional stimuli. On the contrary, quietude means a calm acceptance, free from all conflictual emotion. As the Chinese proverb says, "From an ounce of confusion comes a ton of chaos." Solutions come more easily when the spirit is calm and clear than when it is under the influence of impulsive, violent emotions. That is the meaning of Taoist wisdom.

You cannot approach the Tao if your spirit lacks clarity or if you are enslaved by your emotions. The teachings of Lao-tzu express the touchstone role of the conflictual emotions. These teachings are one of the major themes of the interior practice of Taoist transformation. Energy wasted on worldly emotions is not at all useful in the great Taoist purification process.
To put this advice in a modern framework, we might say that stress binds up our vital energy in superfluous tensions, and violent emotions cloud our awareness, shrouding it in extenuating circumstances that divert it from what is essential. Envy, at the heart of our emotions, is for Taoists the source of all attachments; this thirst to possess, to see, and to feel is, they believe, yin in nature, and thus passive. It is a golden prison in which we believe we act freely. In the Tao-te Chvng, Lao-tzu expresses this idea for us in a dazzling way: "In absolute quietude, how can desire be born? When avidity remains unborn, that is the state of absolute quietude."
This quietude is in fact a source of inexhaustible energy. That is why the ancient sages would withdraw to the mountains, not to savor the simple joys of country life but to partake in the beatifying calm of their own spirit washed clean of all vulgar attachments.
The same is true for your body and its sexual essence. Every morning, sexual essence grows within your body, and if you use it at the right moment, you will not harm yourself at all; the next time you use it, it will be even stronger: "Man misuses the sex act, sometimes even forcing himself when nature does not necessarily demand it."

Purity, in the Taoist sense of the term, is a state of freedom from all illusions, a state beyond the self, beyond heaven, and beyond earth. Impurity is the worldly way, the way of illusory attachments to endless desires. As the "immortal golden treatise" says, "The energy that begins to move when one attains quietude is ancestral energy (yuanqi). When yuanqi moves, jing increases. At this moment one can observe its proper nature. Even while remaining calm, one can guide jing to the dantian and create the alchemical pearl (dan)."
To be alive is necessarily to be in contact with the world, and thus involved in a never-ending production of thoughts and feelings. For the Taoists, worldly thoughts give rise to impure consciousness, to the loss of the original state. This original state is not at all one of hedonistic idleness or beatific torpor, because non-forgetfulness is there to awaken us at every step on the path that is the Tao.

To practice quietude is to return to the source of consciousness through meditation: when the eyes, the ears, and the five senses are no longer in contact with the world, they cease to trigger memories in the conscious heart [xiri). As Confucius (K'ung Ch'iu) himself said, "When the desires diminish, the way to heaven is open."

Within the human body there exist many involuntary movements: the heart is a prime example. Action, for its part, conforms to the objective world conditioned by our thought. Nonaction is unconditioned. To free ourselves from the negative imprinting we bear in our bodies and our thoughts, Taoists offer the practice of meditation and contemplation. Every time we decide to act, we are conditioned by the weight of our memories and desires, even though it seems to us that we are acting of our own free will. For example, if we decide to take a vacation in a warm, sunny place, we believe that in making that choice we are acting in complete freedom. In fact, if we examine our motivations, we perceive that our action is conditioned by different subjective points of view: our stress and fatigue, our desire to get to know one more country, a thirst for human encounters to relieve our loneliness, the current fashions that make this destination obligatory, and so on. Our act, far from being free, is in fact preconditioned. What we call freedom of action is often more like a golden prison. The practice of nonaction thus consists of finding our way back to the state that lies at the very heart of our physical and mental being.
He Xiugu, "the little long-stemmed lotus flower," was the only woman among the eight immortals of the Taoist pantheon. As a child, she had already attained immortality and awakening, and she thereupon took vows of chastity. When her stepmother wanted to force her to marry, she fled to the celestial regions, "leaving her shoes behind her." Once there, she was asked whether she didn't miss the world of men and women, of lovers and their mistresses. This is how she answered: "My friends, the immortals, possess the qualities of both sexes."

Tao of Love And Sex: Lovemaking Positions



A number of books have come out in the West that speak of the possibility of ejaculatory retention through various mental, energetic, or even physical means, such as blocking the seminal ducts with the application of pressure on the central point of the perineum. These methods are in no way sanctioned by all Taoist schools, and in those schools where they are practiced they are always carried out under the authority and supervision of an experienced master. These methods are dangerous and can bring considerable frustration at first and energy troubles later. Most of these practices have their origin in a misreading of an ancient Taoist text, the essentials of which we cite here:
When a man feels that he is going to ejaculate, he should close his mouth and open his eyes wide.

Above all he should try to harmonize his breathing and hold his breath if he can, but without forcing the air into his chest. By moving his hands up and down and by breathing only from the lower abdomen, he can control his breath and his semen. During this sexual practice he should keep his spine straight.

If necessary, he can press with the index finger and third finger of his left hand against acupuncture point Ping I (a thumb width above the nipple of the right breast) and then exhale through his nose, while pressing his jaws together.

This is the method for holding back the sperm so that it can rise unimpeded and nourish the brain. If the man lets his sperm escape outside of him, he will damage his spirit (shen).

This text does not seem to suggest that this method be practiced on a regular basis. Moreover, Taoists know that unreleased energy remains in the belly and stagnates there. There are ways, of course, to direct this energy toward the brain in order to rejuvenate it—the small-circulation method, the basics of which are described above, is one way—but even then, this energy can provoke congestions in the head. Sexual force, if restrained, is like dynamite! It can be used positively or negatively, and only a spiritual master can help you release yourself from the internal pressure of this energy. Taoists follow the natural course: ejaculation and orgasm are natural, whereas seminal retention is an artificial act that affects both the mind and the phys- ; ical energies. Taoists refer to unemitted sperm as "dead jing."

This dead jing, moreover, can accumulate in the prostate gland and produce congestion there. Practicing ejaculatory retention too long without emitting sperm or having orgasm is not only useless, it will also harm both partners (sperm nourishes the woman; to withhold it from her is in a sense to deprive her of food).

A more interesting and useful way of approaching the sex act is to study the opposition of energies. For if one's goal is sexual intensity, seminal retention is not the way to achieve it. Ultimately it leads to greater fatigue, in spite of the fact that no sperm has been emitted. As already explained, releasing sperm or vaginal fluids is not the only ways of losing jing.

It should also be pointed out that unleashing one's fantasies is not the same thing as achieving true sexual vitality, as the great Taiwanese Taoist master Huai-Chin Nan has noted. "Sexual manifestations are good signs of vitality," he says, "as long as one's daily meditations are not connected with sexual fantasies."

Meditation is a good way to maintain physical vigor and freedom of mind. Detachment from worldly conditions is indispensable for natural sexuality. Wild desires and erotic passions are never the signs of a healthy sexuality but are the beginning of physical and mental decay. Taoists believe that the ardors of the heart must be tempered by clarity of mind. "The fire of the heart," they say, in their symbolic language, "must be calmed by the water of the kidneys."
Huai-Chin Nan has also stressed the risks associated with obstructing ejaculation, especially through pressure on the huiyin point, at the perineum:

Some people are teaching how to apply pressure on certain acupuncture points to stop the emission of sperm. Those who learn these methods often become impotent. .. .

Those who contaminate their blood by blocking ejaculation lose weight and acquire a yellow complexion. Ekiken, from Japan, citing ancient Chinese sources, warns against seminal retention as well, from the standpoint of longevity:

If, after the appearance of sexual desire and the excitation of the kidneys, one prevents oneself from ejaculating and does not discharge the energy, this same energy will cause obstruction in the lower abdomen, producing boils or tumors. These problems can be avoided by taking a hot bath and massaging the abdomen.

These remarks should not obscure the fact that there does exist a genuine science in this domain, but it is not accessible to everyone and necessarily requires the help of a master. Moreover, for Taoists it is not the principal path.

Here are a few general indications from the treatises of Sun Si-miao concerning the correct way to carry out the sex act:
Before going to sleep, the partners should indulge in erotic play designed to excite their desire, so that they end up tenderly intertwined; otherwise, they will not find joy and harmony.
While you are having sex, massage yourself so that qi will circulate, pay attention to your breathing, swallow your saliva (liquid of jade), focus your mind on your dantian, and breathe deeply into the abdomen.

When you ejaculate, close your mouth, hold your breath, clench your fists, breathe through your nose, and then let your teeth clatter. All of these gestures are intended to reconstitute the sperm, revivify vital essence (jing), and nourish and rest the brain.

Ejaculation just after penetration or before the woman reaches orgasm is called premature ejaculation. Complex Taoist qigong exercises address this problem through visualization techniques. These techniques bring into play considerable energies, and anyone wishing to use them must already be well versed in the practice of meditation. There is nothing erotic about these visualizations; on the contrary, their goal is to cool the flames of desire by working on the body's most subtle energies. They are therefore not for everyone, and here again only a qualified master can lead someone safely down this path.

And so, for informational purposes only, here is a description of one of these methods for controlling ejaculation, to be practiced only under expert guidance:
The man should imagine a luminous red drop in his dantian, just below the navel, golden within and red with white stripes on the outside. He should imagine this essence divided into two halves, a sun and a moon, which move apart from each other within this region and rise up to a point at the base of his brain where the two halves reunite.

All the while, his penis should be at rest in the woman's body, as he drinks his saliva and absorbs his sexual secretions. The moment that he feels his sperm moving and he is ready to ejaculate, he must withdraw his penis. Only expert Taoists can accomplish this. The dantian is located just below the navel, and the center of the head is located at the back of the skull at the level of the eyes.

He must imagine the shape of a sun (the dantian) and of a moon (the center of the head), about three thumb widths in diameter, joined together into a single shape. It is what is called the sun and the moon joined in a tight bond. Concentrating on this image during sex can be very beneficial.

The ancient Taoist masters described a method that allows prolonged sexual intercourse without relying on ejaculatory obstruction. This technique, or "Great Yang" method, is based on energy laws and on the I Ching. These principles are the same ones that guide traditional acupuncturists, who tone qi by turning or moving the needle nine times. In the method described below, the principle is the same, but here the penis is the "needle."
The "Jade Wand" can be moved in nine different ways:

First, to the right and to the left, as a warrior uses a beam to break apart enemy forces;
then up and down, like a wild horse jumping across a mountain stream;
then like a flock of seagulls playing above the waves, darting in and out;
then with light pecks and deep thrusts in alternation, like a bird searching for grains of rice among grains of earth;
then with light thrusts interspersed with deep but slow penetrations, like stones thrown into the sea, sinking slowly;
then penetrating slowly, like a serpent slinking into his nest as winter approaches;
then penetrating quickly, quivering all the while, like a frightened rat scurrying into his burrow;
then penetrating gently, the way one might drag one's feet or as an eagle holds a rabbit in its talons;
and finally, lifting back your head and diving down, like the sail of a boat beneath the gale.

Apart from its erotic aspects, the art of Japanese and Chinese prints serves pedagogical purposes; its goal is not so much to arouse the imaginations of the sexual partners— which rarely require stimulation—as to provide the lovers with necessary technical details. In the past these drawings have formed an integral part of Taoist sexological treatises. There are many methods and systems of lovemaking positions, all of which have aspects that are at the same time hygienic, therapeutic, spiritual, and erotic.

The positions presented here derive from the treatise of the Woman of Purity. The positions correspond to the eight trigrams of the I Ching. Each of its four yang and four yin trigrams corresponds to a beneficial lovemaking position. Each of these therapeutic lovemaking positions corresponds to a different energy channel, reflecting the Taoists' observation that by stimulating these channels one can These positions are not for everyone. People's sexual organs fit together in different ways, and this, combined with a lack of flexibility in the partners' bodies, can make certain movements impossible.

We will now explain in detail the major positions; some are useful in improving the energies of men, while others are tonics for women. It cannot be overemphasized that these positions are an integral part of the sexual Tao and are not to be practiced for the sake of mere sensual diversion.

Position 1
Lying on her side, the woman spreads her thighs as wide as she can. While she is in this position, the man practices the nine methods (see above) for ten to fifteen minutes.

This position is particularly effective for toning sexual energy and remedying certain sexual deficiencies, such as partial impotence in the man or inhibited orgasm in the woman.

The Dragon turns over lovemaking position
The Dragon turns over.

Position 2
This is a simple position. The woman lies across a large pillow so that her lower back is curved and her sexual organ is tilted slightly upward. The man practices the nine methods over a period of fifteen days.

This position is a complete qi energy tonic for both partners. It is also considered a stimulant for the five zang organs, or viscera—the liver, heart, spleen, lungs, and kidneys—particularly for the woman.

Position 3
This position is very well known. The woman is in a kneeling position and remains nearly still. The man has the active role, as he moves his pelvis up and down. As with the previous position, this position should be practiced over the course of a fifteen-day period to really activate the energy process.

This exercise is beneficial in cases of deficiency of blood, anemia, poor blood circulation, and low blood pressure. Chinese medicine would say that this position eliminates the blood stases that are at the source of many health problems.

Position 4
This position is particularly good for women. The woman lies down and wraps her legs around the man. Note that her legs encircle his thighs, not his waist. The man should not penetrate deeply in this position; he should not create intense pressure.
This position stimulates primarily the woman's digestive organs—the liver, gall bladder, and spleen. It also improvescorrect the imbalances—changes in the muscles, breathing, energy and blood circulation, glandular secretions—associated with them.

This art of lovemaking can also be regarded as a kind of sexual yoga. The Indian tantric tradition is a famous example. In these positions, the woman takes the role of natural and placid initiator; while the man concentrates on restraining his orgasm, she lets herself go, and as she gives her energies to him, she also receives the cosmic forces. The strength that one derives from these therapeutic positions is proportional to the degree of the man's concentration and the free circulation of the woman's curative energies.

Taoist texts and treatises mention many sexual positions: one of these ancient treatises contains more than 120. It is not the sheer number of these positions or even their ac-robatism that makes them interesting; nor is it their aesthetic or sensual aims. The important thing about these exercises is their profound effect on the qi of their practitioners.

These positions act on certain zones of the penis and the vagina, which can be described as energy zones. These reflexology zones, which few people know about, are indicated in the figures below. Just as with the ear or the hand, in the sexual organs every part is linked to one of the body's major internal organs. the distribution of energy in the joints and relieves aches and pains.

Some aspects of this Taoist technique are already known in the West. This method uses the penis as an acupuncture needle, that is, to tone qi.
It consists of a sort of rhythmic massage that is done during sex. In one of the positions listed below, the man begins with nine light, superficial penetrations followed by one deeper penetration. Then he makes eight light penetrations followed by two deep penetrations, and so on, according to the following sequence:


Shallow Yang Thrusts

Deep Yin Thrusts




























Tao of Love And Sex: Great Taoist Principles Of Natural Sex


Sun Si-miao, the physician of the Tang dynasty period known for both his medical expertise and his great virtue, lived for over a hundred years. A specialist in sexology, he devoted a chapter of his book, Precious Prescriptions for Emergency Cases, to this subject. In this treatise he emphasized two critical periods in a man's sexual life: A man of forty years needs to be particularly aware of the relation between energy and sexual activity. Practicing the pleasures of the flesh as he did in his youth will have grave consequences for his physical and mental health. For this reason, a man should retain his sperm during the sex act; in other words, he should be careful not to emit his sperm too frequently. If he does not observe these precautions, he will weaken physically or age prematurely; he can even drop dead when all his sperm has been depleted. As for young men, even if they enjoy an iron constitution, they should not indulge in sexual pleasures too early in life or indulge in masturbation, for these things will make them lose their jing prematurely.

The Xuan Nu Jing speaks to this same subject:
If a man tries to have orgasm too often, he will gravely damage his health. He must adhere to the following frequencies of ejaculation [this advice concerns only ejaculatory frequency, not the frequency of sexual relations]:
A young man of fifteen years in perfect health can ejaculate twice a day; if he is tired, only once a day.
A twenty-year-old man can ejaculate twice a day.
A thirty-year-old man can ejaculate once a day; once every two days if he is tired.
A forty-year-old man can ejaculate once every three days.
A fifty-year-old man can ejaculate once every five days; if he is sick, once every ten days.
A sixty-year-old man can ejaculate once every ten days; once every twenty days if he is sick.
A seventy-year-old man can ejaculate once a month, but if he is sick, he should refrain from ejaculating altogether.

On the subject of moderation, the Xuan Nu Jing states:
Lack of moderation in sexual relations can provoke abcesses in men and gynecological ailments in women; through immoderation, both men and women risk diminishing their longevity. Those who know how to husband their energies are happy and robust and will live to be old.

On the subject of conjugal harmony, the Xuan Nu Jing states:
At the moment of the sex act, if the woman has no desire and does not secrete vaginal fluids, can the man have a stiff and potent penis?
Xuan Nu answered: "A happy and harmonious sex life depends on conjugal harmony. If one of the partners lacks desire, the sexual hormones will not elicit secretions from either partner. In that case, it is useless to talk of pleasure."

The woman of Glory asked, "Isn't the goal of sexual intercourse to obtain pleasure through ejaculation? If one refrains from ejaculating, what point is there in having sex?" The Taoist master answered: "Usually, after ejaculation, the man feels tired and sleepy; sometimes he is thirsty and his ears ring. Although he recovers rather quickly from these conditions, they can hardly be called agreeable. By avoiding ejaculation from time to time, the man will increase his energy, improve his eyesight, and sharpen his hearing. Additionally, by refraining from ejaculating he will increase his sexual energy and be able to have sex more often, which is a better reward than momentary ejaculatory pleasure."

Sexual relations should be avoided during extreme weather conditions such as heat waves, severe cold, storms, eclipses, floods, and thunderstorms; at such times, the yin and yang magnetic energies of the earth are in a state of upheaval, and human energy is sensitive to these atmospheric conditions.

Avoid sexual relations during periods of emotional upset— rage, grief, after a great fright, if you are intoxicated with drugs or alcohol, or after overeating. Sexual intercourse, as we have seen, sets into play energies of the profoundest sort. Since violent emotional conditions are extremely disruptive of internal yang qi energy, these conditions can increase the sexual energies and even make them permanent. The ancient texts warn against having sexual relations under such conditions, which can "produce illness in men and women or cause a stillbirth, if the union happens to be fruitful and leads to conception."

Avoid having sexual relations if one of the two partners has a serious chronic illness. Sexual union under such conditions will tire both partners. Sexual intercourse during or immediately after a "hot" illness (especially fevers) can cause serious complications and hinder recovery. The seriously ill should abstain from sex in order to conserve their jing and strengthen their body's immune system. Some may find this hard, but it is sometimes the only way to recovery.

Having sexual relations on the first day of the lunar cycle (on the new moon) is unfavorable, particularly for the energies of the mind. The reason for this rule has to do with principles of Taoist bio energetics, which are too involved to enter into here.

Avoid having sexual relations via the anal orifice. The Taoist texts are explicit on this point and maintain that anal sex (including anal sex in a homosexual relationship) seriously inverts the yin and yang energies and is at the root of many exogenous disorders.

Having sexual relations during menstruation "brings illness to both women and men."

Masturbation entails a great loss of energy (seminal essence) if practiced too frequently. Moreover, Taoists consider it dangerous to "make love with phantoms." Masturbating hinders the attainment of the emptiness of mind that facilitates meditation and mental relaxation. From adolescence until age twenty, it is not good to rush headlong into sexual adventures or masturbation. At this age, a person's jing, or sexual essence, is still somewhat weak, and self-abuse during this period will have disastrous results later in life and will ultimately diminish the strength of the organism's immune system.

When vital energy is excited, it reaches the liver, and the penis, now aroused, becomes erect; when vital energy reaches the heart, the swollen penis feels some of this heat; when vital energy arrives at the kidneys, the penis becomes rigid and powerful.

As for the woman, she should have five reactions: when qi reaches her heart, her face reddens; when it reaches her liver, she looks everywhere around her—a sign of love; when qi reaches her lungs, she says not another word and her nose becomes moist; when it reaches her spleen, she nestles her neck against her partner's; when it reaches her kidneys, her vagina opens and lubricates.

The classic medical texts also advise against sexual relations at specific times that correspond to moments of shift in yin and yang energies: at noon, at midnight, during a solar eclipse, during a lunar eclipse, when there is a rainbow, at the summer and winter solstices, at full moon, and on a full stomach.
Since the energy of the human body is a microcosm contained within a vast macrocosm that surrounds it, such periods of high polarization can engender an energy-imbalance in the physical and mental constitution of a child who is conceived at such times. Chinese medicine, like Chinese culture in general, is based on principles of moderation. All extremes are considered potentially dangerous. For example, a child conceived during one of these periods will tend to be special and "not like other children."

Conceiving a child during times of grief is ill-advised because of the energy relation between shen and jing (kidney essence), the source of the sexual energies and body fluids. Severe mental depression can also affect the quality of pro-creative energy.

There is no getting around the fact that in the past many Taoist masters have counseled and preached sexual abstinence. Now that you have grasped the importance of jing in the process of spiritual development, you also understand that any loss of jing represents a diminishment not only of vitality but also of intellectual faculties and concentration. Other masters have gone even further, maintaining that sexual thoughts of any sort, in men and women alike, also constitute a loss of jing. It is clear, however, that the restraint they advocate is impossible for most human beings. Therefore, most Taoists take a more moderate position.

After the age of twenty, the wisest thing to do, Taoists believe, is have sex about once a week. Certain teachings maintain that only those sex acts in which sperm is emitted should count; we believe that this is false, however, since any sexual stimulation represents a loss of jing. It makes no difference whether this stimulation involves sexual intercourse, masturbation, or mere arousal without ejaculation or orgasm: sexuality constitutes a deployment of the body's deepest energies. As Sun Si-miao has shown, as one advances in years and one's capacities decline, one's sex life should taper off as well; people over seventy-five, he advised, should not have sex at all, so that they can preserve their energies.

Tao of Love And Sex: The Sexual Union

THE TREATISE of the Yellow Emperor sheds yet more light on the dyadic nature of sexual practice:
The Yellow Emperor said to Su Nu: "I have understood the general concept of the interplay of yin and yang. Can you give me more details?"
Su Nu answered: "All earthly creations depend on yin and yang. Birth is brought about by the union of yin and yang. Thus it is that when a man's penis is in contact with a woman, it becomes erect. When the woman is stimulated, her lips open. Thus yin and yang enter into contact. The sperm and the female fluids blend together."



A book written on bamboo tablets was discovered in Ma-wangdui in 1974. In this book, titled Tian Xia Zhi Dao Tan (The Tao of the world), the Taoist author describes difficulties that can arise during sex and explains several methods for achieving balance within it.

The "Seven Dangers" and "Eight Methods" constitute the main part of the book. The former are things that a person must avoid to remain sexually potent, while the eight methods represent steps that can be taken to counter those threats and strengthen sexuality. This text is the first attempt in the history of Chinese medicine to treat the theme of human sexuality.

The seven dangers are:
1. Internal closure. During sex, the man feels a sudden pain in his penis, or his seminal duct closes, blocking the flow of sperm.
2. Outward emanation of alcohol. This condition, which manifests itself in profuse sweating during sexual relations, signals an excessive consumption of alcohol.
3. Exhaustion. Sexual intemperance diminishes the sperm (creating internal dryness) and weakens vital energy {qi).
4. Impotence. This condition is a sign of profound fatigue that needs to be corrected with yang tonics, blood tonics, or qi tonics.
5. Indifference. A lack of interest during sex can bring on shortness of breath and vertigo. It also tends to make sex a purely mechanical affair.
6. Female impasse. The penis penetrates too quickly and cannot satisfy the woman if she wants to achieve orgasm.
7. Flight of energy. The rapid loss of energy shortens the sex act.

These seven dangers are harmful for sexual harmony not only on the level of physical energies but also on the spiritual level. These dangers are taken up in somewhat different form in the Su Nu Jing, the classic work attributed to the Yellow Emperor, in which they are described as follows:
1. The drying up of secretions due to overstimulation.
2. Overly frequent ejaculation resulting in loss of jing.
3. Irregular pulse caused by sexual excitement that exceeds one's internal forces.
4. The loss of qi resulting from having sex while in a state of fatigue.
5. Internal dysfunction aggravated by having sex before one has completely recovered from an illness affecting one of the five internal organs.
6. The hundred difficulties that arise when the woman becomes so ravenous for sex that her hunger cannot be satisfied.
7. Hematuria, which occurs when a man who is already tired from his ordinary activities exhausts himself further by having sex without taking his reserves into account. He can seriously weaken his kidneys and begin to urinate blood.

The eight methods are internal exercises that are to be practiced along with breathing exercises. Through a process of relaxation and harmonization, these methods make it possible to achieve true sexual harmony. They are as follows:
1. Good breath circulation (qi). Sit with your legs folded, back straight, buttocks relaxed, and anus slightly contracted upward; then direct your qi toward the lower abdomen, until it reaches your sexual organs.
2. Releasing the first secretions. Stand with your legs shoulder-width apart, bend your legs at the knee, as in the mounted archer's pose described earlier. Breathe deeply into the abdominal region, move your tongue around in your mouth, then swallow your saliva and relax your buttock muscles. Direct your qi downward to the sex organs, holding your back straight and keeping your anus gently contracted so that the sexual organs release the first lubricating secretions.
3. Seizing the moment. The partners caress each other's body and engage in sexual foreplay. Then they relax physically and mentally before having sexual intercourse. Sexual intercourse begins only when the desire for it appears.
4. Accumulating qi. At the moment the sex act begins, with your back relaxed and anus slightly contracted, make your qi descend so that it concentrates in your sexual organs.
5. Stimulating the release of the sweet secretion. The penis penetrates gently, slowly, and harmoniously to encourage the release of secretions from the genital organs.
6. Conserving qi. Draw out the penis while it is still rigid, before ejaculation occurs.
7. Conserving qi until climax. As sexual intercourse is about to reach conclusion, stop moving and circulate your qi up and down the spinal column, then make it descend so that you accumulate as much energy as possible in the dantian.
8. Pouring out the waters of jing. This means that ejaculation takes place outside the vagina.
In the Mawangdui treatise, the eight methods are said to be good for the energies of both partners and thus promote conjugal harmony. According to this text,
Whoever practices the eight methods and avoids the seven dangers will have keen hearing, sharp vision, and a svelte and supple body; he will enjoy good health and will live to a ripe old age.

The Su Nu Jing also describes the nine energies or principles that can help prevent a sexual relationship from becoming a source of illness and keep pleasure from turning into pain. In some ways, these principles recall the Western concept of the golden mean:
During the sex act, human beings are subject to the nine energies.
If these energies are not heeded, the man's body will be afflicted with ulcers, inflammations, and edema, and the woman will suffer from irregular periods and other maladies.

Total disregard of these rules can even cause death, but if the man and the woman obey the principles of yin and yang, they will enjoy good health, joy, and long life. This then is the principle of the sex act. It is a principle of mental stability, emotional balance, harmonious energy, and physical and mental fitness.
One should avoid extremes in life: One should expose oneself neither to extreme cold nor to extreme heat; one should neither fast nor gorge. One should maintain a perfect moral and physical code of ethics and always seek peace both within oneself and with others.

Zhang Jiebin, author of another classic Chinese treatise, set down these ten counsels:
1. Choose the right moment for conception. There are biorhythms that make it possible to have sex when the conditions that favor conception come together.
2. The partners' search for simultaneous orgasm can allow both the man and the woman to achieve complete satisfaction through the interaction of their yin and yang energies.
3. The sexuality of spouses will differ according to their respective physical constitutions. If the man is in better health than his wife, he should do all he can to surround her with care and attention before they make love. If, on the other hand, the woman is in better health than the man, she should be patient and wait until his penis is hard.
4. Insufficient accumulation of qi is at the origin of erectile dysfunction; therefore, qi must be nourished by every means possible.
5. The daily accumulation of sperm is just as important as its emission. If the man neglects either one, he risks ruining his health.
6. Moderation must be practiced in sexual relations: a person must be well rested before having sex and not make love when very tired; one must exercise restraint in sexual relations and not have sex too often.
7. Good humor is an important condition for ensuring a happy and lasting sex life.
8. Having sex during the last months of pregnancy is inadvisable because of the risk of provoking a spontaneous abortion.
9. Old persons and the infirm should absolutely avoid conception.
10. Sexual desire results from natural drives and originates in the body's internal organs, in other words, when jing and qi of the kidneys are strong. Any desire that springs purely from fantasies will harm the quality of sexual relations.

Tao of Love And Sex: Nine Exercises of Sexual Tao (Part IV)

Neiyang gong is a mental relaxation method for sexual opening. We have already seen some of the many subtle ways in which thoughts of inadequacy and emotional upset can give rise to sexual inhibitions in men and women. These inhibitions, if not addressed, will eventually worsen and become permanent energy disorders; that is why all the preceding exercises are advised for those who suffer from impotence or frigidity. Taoist meditation practices are another useful remedy, especially when these conditions result from emotional or psychological causes. These practices can help the sufferer free himself or herself from the obsessional thoughts that can dim the mind as clouds hide the sun.

Obsessional thoughts can afflict anyone, not just people with clinically diagnosed emotional disorders; all of us at one time or another have found ourselves swept into the cycle of conflictual emotions: anger (it's always justified, isn t it?), passions (they're pleasant at first, but, as we all know, they soon turn destructive), supreme joy (if one's wedding is the happiest day of one's life, how can the re-minder of one's life be anything but grim?), grief (he left me I didn't deserve that! We have to suffer, it's karma), and so on.

Taoist therapy considers different agents or conditions to be potential sources of mental disorders. Impotence, for example, is linked to excessive worries, frustration, melancholy, and fear, as well as to physical or energy problems such as kidney deficiencies or digestive troubles. Taoist medicine draws no borders between physical and emo-tional causes, which simply goes to show that Chinese therapists were well ahead of their time in grasping the concept of psychosomatic illness.
Even the six pathogenic atmospheric influences—wind, cold, heat, dampness, dryness, and fire—were considered factors that could aggravate the emotions. For extreme emotional disturbances, in particular the yang-type disorders such as rage, epilepsy, and manias, Taoist physicians prescribed fasting to reduce qi, which exacerbates these conditions. It was even said that extreme weather conditions on the day of conception could trigger irreversible mental troubles in the newborn child: an excess of yin could produce retardation; a child conceived during a heat wave would turn out to be hot tempered. For example, the phrase in Taoist therapy corresponding to the Western word depression is "stagnation of qi, accompanied by deficiency of qi," according to texts from the Ming dynasty period (1368-1644).
The best therapy for disorders that are emotional in origin or manifestation is, beyond a doubt, Taoist meditation, the internal healing method of neiyang gong. This method, part of the qigong discipline, had been transmitted orally from master to disciple until 1947, when Dr. Liu Gui Zhen asked Liu Du Zhou, the great qigong master from the province of Hebei, to reveal the method publicly for the sake of sick people everywhere. Dr. Liu simplified the meditation and adapted it to the needs and capabilities of his hospital patients. Internal healing quickly proved its effectiveness in producing therapeutic results. Its reputation soon spread throughout China, and it is now practiced and taught in the largest hospitals of traditional Chinese medicine, especially in Shanghai.

Neiyang gong has a calming effect on brain activity, while amplifying the vital functions. Additionally, the basis of 4his technique—the repetition of a phrase—helps increase mental tranquility through positive suggestion. The main sexual indications for the use of this method include impotence, spermatorrhea, prostatitis, genital infections, premature ejaculation, inflammation of the uterus, dysmenorrhea, and prolapse of the uterus. The list, longer today than it was in the 1950s, owes its expansion to successful outcomes in many clinical trials.

Before each breathing exercise and each concentration exercise, you should disengage yourself from all your preoccupations. Your breathing should be slow and relaxed. If you are not sufficiently calm while performing this exercise, do not insist on continuing it. It is better to do something else.

Whether you are performing this exercise in a sitting or reclining position, you should wear loose clothing that does not impede your breathing or restrict blood circulation (belts, buckles, and constricting undergarments can be particularly problematic—it's best not to wear them). Your breathing should not be tense or forced, and you should be able to relax the muscles of your entire body. Your gaze Should fall naturally down your nose or to your toes, and your eyes should be half closed. If your eyes are tired, however, feel free to close them, unless this puts you to sleep, in that case, it is better to keep them slightly open. * The position of your body during this exercise should be natural, loose, and unconstrained. Whichever position you take—sitting, reclining, or standing—be sure not to thrust your chest forward or tense your shoulders: maintaining the pose should require no effort. If you choose to sit, it is recommended that, once you have assumed this position, you try leaning your upper body slightly forward, backward, to the right, and to the left, until you find the position that is ideal for you.

People using this meditation technique to treat a chronic illness or people with severe illness should practice sexual abstinence for one hundred days and eat simple, light meals. This period of sexual abstinence should begin at the start of this cure; if the hoped-for improvements do not occur, the period of abstinence should be extended.

Here is a complete description of this health-promoting exercise in which a person, sitting or lying down, transforms his shallow breathing into breathing that is calm and long. Its benefits are enhanced through the mental repetition of certain syllables.

There are three basic positions for practicing internal healing. The position you choose will depend on personal taste or circumstance. For example, a fatigued, hospitalized, or otherwise bedridden person would probably opt for one of the two reclining positions.

First position: Lying on your side. To maintain proper posture during the exercise, make sure that the bed is not too soft. If you are cold, you can cover yourself with a blanket.

It doesn't matter on which side you lie, unless you have just eaten, in which case you should lie on your right side: an that position the stomach is less heavy. You can bend your arm if you like and rest your forearm on a cushion, palm facing outward, your hand three thumb widths (about six centimeters) from your head. If you are lying on your right side, place your left hand lightly on your thigh, palm facing downward. Keep the leg that is in contact with the mattress extended and slightly tensed; the other leg should be bent at about a 120-degree angle. Then lay your bent leg on top of the other leg. With your eyes half closed, youi gaze should now rest on your nose or your toes. Keep your mouth closed.

Second position: Sitting. This exercise is performed on a chair or stool. The soles of your feet should be touching the floor. Your knees should be bent at a ninety-degree angle. Your bearing should be stable. Your chest should incline neither forward nor backward, neither to the right noi to the left. Rest your hands on your thighs and spread your legs so that your feet are shoulder-width apart. Your eyes should be open only a slit while you let your gaze rest on your nose or your toes.
Thud-position: Lying on your back. Lie down on your bed, without contracting your muscles. The bed should be hard, and your cushion should be placed higher than for the first position (two palm widths). Support your shoulders with ta cushion about four thumb widths (eight centimeters) in thickness. Here, too, your eyes should be open no more than a slit, and you should be looking down at your nose or your toes.
Once you have assumed the proper position, begin breathing through your nose. Breathe normally at first for i one or two minutes, then begin silently repeating the syllables indicated below. As you inhale, the tip of your tongue should touch the palate and remain there for a brief instant; as you exhale, let your tongue fall back down to the floor of the mouth. Repeat these breathing movements at a regular pace as you say the syllables to yourself.

To begin with, say in your mind a three-syllable word or phrase, for example, "I am calm." Of course, you should really be calm in this case. If you like, you can say other words, such as "one, two, three."

Progressively increase the number of syllables, but only after a week or two of practice with three syllables. Always breathe in on the first syllable, hold your breath on the second, and exhale only on the last syllable. You can increase the number of syllables in multiples of three. The interval during which you hold your breath will become longer and longer but should never exceed three syllables, ; as you inhale for the first three syllables,, hold your breath for the next three, and exhale for the last three. For example: "my spirit" (inhalation) "is at rest" (retention of, breath) "without thoughts" (exhalation).

How long you extend this interval is up to you: it is for you to decide how long each cycle should last. But in any case the cycle will have three phases: inhalation, retention, exhalation. There is no intervening phase between your exhalation and your inhalation; inhalation should immediately follow exhalation. You should breathe naturally and at a regular pace; there should be no feeling of suffocation or respiratory distress (dyspnea). This way of breathing is called "normal" breathing; there are other ways of breathing that will be described later.
In the beginning, it can be rather difficult to attain a state of perfect concentration. What we mean here by concentration is not mental effort directed toward a particular point, but rather an absence of the disruptive thoughts that come with sensory awareness. To achieve this concentration is you perform the exercise, focus—without forcing yourself—on the dantian, located about two thumb widths below the navel. After about twenty days of daily practice, you will begin to feel as though your breath is reaching all the way down to your abdominal cavity, as though the air is descending into your belly. Later you will be able to generalize this sensation and feel it anywhere in your body, as part of the Taoist self-healing process.

The exercise described above is a concentration exercise: by concentrating on the dantian—the abdominal energy center or cinnabar field—you will eventually attain the state of total calm called rujing.

This focus is difficult to achieve at first. Beginners can usually concentrate only for a short time before their -thoughts begin to stray. This is to be expected. While you are 'preserving your dantian," as the Chinese would say, you should not attempt to force yourself to concentrate. Since the dantian can be thought of as an "object" that lies halfway between the real and the imaginary, any inordinate effort on your part can provoke psychic overexertion and impede the progress of the meditation. Those who are practicing this meditation for simple disease prevention, longevity, or sexual well-being should do it once or twice a day, at the same hour every day if possible Ideally, internal healing should be practiced for thirty ammutes to one hour in the morning and another thirty minutes in the evening before you go to bed. Beginners should start with periods of shorter duration (ten to fifteen minutes) so as not to cause psychic tension.

Those who wish to remedy a particular sexual problem should refer to the following table and choose their meditation program according to their specific needs:








10 to 30

Normal or



Special 2


Two to

10 to 30

Normal or




Special 2



Two to

10 to 30

Normal or





Special 2



Two to

10 to 30

Special 2





Prolapse of the

Two to

10 to 30








Two to

10 to 30






The qigong exercises for gathering the essence of the sun and the nectar of the moon are important methods used by ancient Taoists to tone yang and supplement yin and thereby increase the pure sexual energies associated with these two polarities. Taoists believed that these methods were sufficient in themselves to treat male impotence and female frigidity.

Sun essence can increase the body's yang energy, while moon nectar tones yin essence and the normal body fluids. Yang represents vital energy that is immediately available to the body to defend itself physically and mentally, while yin is the body's sap or quintessence in the form of body fluids (of which hormones are one example).

The energy of the rising sun is yang-type energy; it polarizes the qi of the air, making it more vivifying and tonic. Taoists think that modern science has yet to grasp all the riches of our universe's subtle vibrations; the effect of sunspots and fight rays and the flow of particles are examples of phenomena that are still not well understood. Taoists believe chat exposure to rays of sunlight in the morning induces a healthy awakening of the vital forces. The five viscera all benefit from this flow of life, as do one's mental capacities. This meditation tones the essential sexual energies in their pure yang aspect.

In preparation, stand facing the sun with your feet spread shoulder-width apart, knees slightly bent; remain in a state of relaxation and tranquility, breathe regularly, and rid yourself of all interfering or negative thoughts. As the sun rises above the horizon, lower your eyelids slightly, keeping them open just enough so that you can perceive its reddish light (if the sun is hidden by clouds, simply imagine that you are seeing it rise); as you breathe in-through the nose, inhale the qi essence of the solar light; breathe in a good mouthful of this essence (in your imag-llation, of course), and hold your breath for a moment as you focus your mind; then exhale, and as you do so, swallow this essence while sending puffs of it down to your dantian (the Elixir Field, located in the middle of the abdomen, below your navel). This process constitutes the first part of the exercise. Swallow this essence naturally, as though you were drinking water from a glass; with practice this will become natural and pleasant. At the completion of the exercise, swallow ten times.

Absorbing the solar light.
Then relax naturally, let your mind concentrate peacefully for a brief instant, then stretch your limbs for a moment just as you would normally. This visualization exercise can also be practiced shortly after sunrise, in the early morning. For maximum intensity, however, performing it at actual sunrise is best.

The moon represents the body's yin energies and fluids. In traditional Chinese medicine, the balance of sexual fluids is closely related to mental health and the ability to find inner peace. In Asia, intelligence and the ability to meditate are often represented symbolically by the moon. The moon is also related to the woman's menstrual cycle and its regular progression. The ancient Taoists said that if a woman practiced this exercise regularly, she would become more feminine and would have a luminous, glowing aura, perfect health, and stable mental energy. This exercise is not for women alone, however; men too can benefit from this simple practice, which will calm their yang if it is overly exuberant or impulsive. It's also a good way for men to calm nervous tensions and aggressive drives and to balance their hormonal system.

In preparation, find an open spot out of doors at night and stand facing the moon as you enter a state of relaxation and tranquility, breathing regularly and ridding yourself of all interfering thoughts. It is not advisable to perform this exercise completely naked.

Lower your eyelids until you can barely make out the moon; breathe in through your nose and mouth, gently inhaling the nectar of the moon as you take in a mouthful of this nectar (you should visualize this); hold your breath gently as you concentrate your mind and swallow the nectar slowly, sending it down to the abdominal dantian (the Elixir Field, in the middle of the belly, three thumb widths below the navel). This process constitutes the second part of the exercise. Repeat it six times. This meditation may seem a little abstract, but with practice, it will become easy and natural. Then you will really have the feeling of absorbing the nectar of the moon.
To finish, concentrate peacefully for a brief instant on the inner feeling of your body and mind, then stretch your limbs naturally.

This lunar meditation, when done in autumn and at full moon, is particularly good for the blood and for the feminine energies.

Tao of Love And Sex: Nine Exercises of Sexual Tao (Part III)

The two traditional Taoist exercises that follow were pop-ularized in China by the internal schools and Bian Zhi-zhong, following the tradition of the Taoists of the Hua Shan mountains.

  • One of the most important points in this exercise is the position of the spinal column: it must be perfectly straight but not rigid. Your back must be strong and suppie; any stiffness will impede the flow of qi, thus dimin-ishing the effects of the exercise and preventing energy from circulating as it should.
  • Your shoulders should be relaxed, neither raised nor hunched over. This is not always easy to achieve, especially while you are learning the movements. The common tendency is to tense the shoulders, to raise them toward the neck and tuck the head into the shoulders.
  • Hold your head straight, with your chin slightly tucked ; and your neck supple. The point on the top of the head
    between your two ears, on the line going from the nose to the nape of the neck, should be kept pointed, toward the sky. Be careful not to lean your head forward or backward.
  • Look straight ahead, neither to the right nor to the left (except as indicated for certain poses, in which, for example, you will need to follow the movements of your hands).
  • Your hands should remain supple and elastic. When you close your fists, do so without exerting physical force. Don't clench them. If energy is circulating as it should, you will nonetheless feel as though there is great strength in your hands or your fingers, and an outside observer looking at your fists might imagine that they are being deliberately clenched with great force. This sign indicates that the energy is circulating.
  • Your legs should remain supple as well. Do not tense them.
  • The mobility and flexibility of your waist are very important. The waist is an axis, and from this axis the pelvis will move.
  • Be persevering in your practice. Only through repetition will you obtain noticeable results.
  • Learn to control your gaze: the eyes are the mirror of the mind; if you can master your eyes, you can master your mind.
  • Practice this meditation at the same time every day in a quiet room kept at a pleasant temperature. It can also be practiced out of doors, in a place sheltered from wind, cold, sun, and damp.
  • Let your breathing happen freely, and if you begin to feel short of breath, don't hesitate to breathe through your mouth, even if this goes against practices you may already be familiar with from other disciplines such as yoga.
  • Don't let your mind stray or gravitate toward your every-dap cares and worries. Remain wakeful and attentive, for this is also part of the exercise.
  • Perform this movement without unnecessary effort, or mental tension. Of course, this is difficult to accomplish at first, but with daily practice you will master it.

This valuable exercise was still being practiced at the be-ginning of the century by the Taoist monks of the Hua mountains. It is practiced today in Taiwan and China. A most powerful exercise, it is capable of restoring lost vital-ity, it is also called "fortifying and nourishing the kidneys and breath."

As you know by now, the word "kidney" should be understood here in a broad sense, that is, as vitality, longevity, sexual force, and reproduction. For the ancient Taoists all these notions resided in this simple word.

The following exercise and the one preceding it should fee practiced regularly, twice a day for at least three minutes. This exercise stimulates the circulation of qi and blood, of yin and yang; increases vitality through the influx of fresh, pure qi expels stagnant, used qi; stimulates the five viscera, particularly the kidneys, and the sexual organs (when practiced with the exercise that comes after it); and normalizes body weight.

With its simple three-part movement, this exercise should be practiced in a natural and supple way; you should never force your breathing. Here is how it is traditionally done.

Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart from each other. Relax the muscles in your arms, letting your hands rest alongside your thighs. Keep your knees slightly bent. Look straight ahead of you, focusing into infinity. Keep your eyes half open, your gaze tranquil. Empty your mind of all its cares and thoughts.

Inhale as you lift your heels gently off the floor, without losing your balance.
Visualize the fresh air penetrating everywhere inside you, stimulating every cell of your body.
Gradually shift your weight onto the balls and toes of your feet, without forcing your breathing or making noise as you breathe. Then exhale while lowering your heels gently to the floor, ending with a slight bend in the knees. Do
this on a single exhalation, letting your back curve outward just a bit and your stomach cave in slightly.
As the air leaves your lungs, visualize it carrying all your toxins away with it. Perform this first part sixteen times in succession, slowly, but breathing completely.

Check to see that your knees are still bent, and then relax, Breathe naturally as you shake your entire body with a series of harmonious vibrations to a rapid rhythm (three vibrations a second, if possible). Do this for about a min- ute, while breathing freely.
You might be a bit surprised at first, and you should not
force the movement; little by little, as you relax more and more, you will begin to feel the vibrations shake your body (as this happens, try to keep your shoulders, jaws, and pelvis relaxed).
Men will feel their testicles swinging to a rapid rhythm, and women will feel their breasts jump and their vagina relax.
If you find it difficult to get the vibration going, try shaking your body from top to bottom and from front to back slightly. With practice, the vibration will come naturally.

Gently bend your right knee and rotate your right shoulder forward and downward toward the middle of the body (see figure on next page.), and then upward and outward in a smooth, harmonious circle. Now do the same with y< ! left shoulder as you bend your left knee. This movement will soon become natural. Do not force the movement of your shoulders. Breathe naturally as you perform this exercise sixteen times. Little by little, you will feel the yin-yang movement of your waist, as one side opens outward and the other closes inward. You will also feel a definite effect on the stomach.

This exercise is unique in that it fortifies the sexual organs in both men and women. It is said that the courtesans of the last emperors of China, anxious to reap the benefits of This exercise, would make the journey to the Hua mountains just to learn it. With its tonic effect on the male and female sexual organs, this exercise acts directly on the kidneys the adrenal glands, the sexual glands, and the pelvis and on many acupuncture points and channels as well, this exercise is said to strengthen kidney functioning, relieve lumbago, firm and lift the vagina, and stimulate blood flow in the testicles (which can prevent varicoceles and genital inflammations). Practiced on a regular basis, this exercise can also help prevent nocturnal emissions and involuntary seminal emissions in young men. And like the previous exercise, it increases the tone of the breasts in young women.

Take the same position as in the previous exercise, with your back straight but relaxed.

Raise your left hand slowly, keeping your palm upward m front of the body, until your hand reaches the height of your chest. At the same time, describe an arc with the right foot and set it down to the right, as indicated in the figure on the next page. Then raise your right hand to the level of your lower ribs, as you bring your left hand in front of your face, holding it as though it were a mirror (keep your left elbow bent, as in the figure). At the same time, pivot your left foot on the toe, moving your heel in an outward direction; then squeeze your buttocks as hard as you can, pressing them together so that you can feel your genital organs. Repeat these movements from the other side.

Do this exercise eight times on each side. Be sure to perform the movements slowly, keeping your breathing relaxed and unforced throughout. (Women should never perform this exercise during their periods or during pregnancy.)

This ancient exercise stimulates what the Taoists call the cinnabar field, the energy point in the middle of the abdomen, which connects a person's vital reserves (linked to the kidneys and jing, or vital and sexual essence) with his or her qi, or readily available force.

Traces of this exercise can be found in a seventeenth-century Taoist compilation that speaks of the exercises of the immortals. The "immortals" were Taoist sages and hermits who, having realized their energy potential, attained a high degree of spiritual accomplishment. The daoyin exercise is simply called "holding your feet."
Sit down on the floor with your legs tensed and grasp the soles of your feet, with your hands reaching around the outside of the foot to the sole.

Remain in this position as you take nine deep breaths, keeping your awareness focused on the abdomen. Don't force your breathing; you can keep your eyes halfway closed to help you concentrate.

This acupressure massage of the energy points is good for both sexes; it can help both men and women prolong the sex act and increase their orgasmic pleasure. This massage uses the same pressure-and-release method described in the section on the female aphrodisiac acupressure point: press the points with the thumb until you Begin to feel discomfort, then release without lifting your thumb from the skin; repeat this cycle of pressure and release for about two minutes on each of the three energy gates, in the following order.

First point.
The first point is located two centimeters below the navel You can feel it by pressing gently with the index finger on the skin; you will feel a slight depression there.

Second point.
The second point (there are actually two of them) is located three centimeters below the navel, four centimeters to either side of the midline.

Third point.
The third point is located at the base of the nail of the second toe, toward the outside of the toe.
These three massages should be repeated once a day for three weeks.

Tao of Love And Sex: Nine Exercises of Sexual Tao (Part II)

Sit in a comfortable position (on the floor in a cross-legged, semi-cross-legged, or lotus position, or else on a chair). Leave your daily cares behind you and focus your awareness on feeling your body's energies.

Place one hand over the other on the abdominal cavity, just below the navel, with both palms facing the belly. Do not press too hard against the skin.
Imagine a magnificent flower, such as the golden lotus, opening its petals right in the middle of your belly. As the flower opens and its petals unfold, its warmth and perfume waft out and gradually fill your whole body, nourishing the internal organs with a blissful energy. Remain in this state for several minutes. Try to relax without falling into a state of torpor. You will begin to have sensations of heat, fullness, and distension, particularly in the belly.

Imagine the flower closing as you exhale and opening as you inhale. Your body will then begin to sway slightly, taking on a wavelike motion. Let this movement happen freely, but don't become intoxicated with it or lose control. Remain a few moments in simple contemplation of this rediscovered quietude before you once again embark on the flood of your daily activities.
Practiced once daily anytime of the day, this exercise is an excellent foundation for all Taoist meditative practices.

It's a good idea to start practicing the opening of the dantian for a month before you proceed to the next exercises. That way you will lay a good foundation for your daily exercise routine.

Taoists refer to this internal work as "the cultivation of qi." Practicing this method helps develop a sensitivity to the energy that is constantly circulating through the body. The dantian, that Elixir Field in the middle of our bellies just below the navel, is where the subtle energy that Taoists call ancestral energy resides. This force constitutes the human being's physical, sexual, and mental foundation. According to Taoists, it also determines how long we live. By practicing these energy-cultivation exercises, you can strengthen the center of the abdomen and retard the ineluctable flight of vital energy.
The Tao is close, but everyone looks far away. Life is simple, but everyone seeks difficulty.
—Men Tseu

The exercise of the small circulation provides an essential way of developing sexual potency through psychophysiological exercises that combine Taoist meditation, abdominal breathing, and the power of mind (visualization and mental imagery). The three treasures—jing, qi, and shen— are directly worked on in this exercise. A jade tablet dating from the sixth century B.C. describes the path taken by the energy flow during the meditation of the small circulation:

When one breathes in, energy descends. When energy descends, one becomes calm and energy becomes strong, whereupon it begins to germinate and then to push backward and rise up the back toward the crown of the head, and from there, it once again begins its descent.

Legend ascribes the invention of this traditional exercise to Lao-tzu himself, the founder of philosophical Taoism and master of the sexual exercises of the Yellow Chamber. According to one story, a Taoist hermit who had practiced small-circulation meditation more than a hundred thousand times and used it during sexual intercourse was able to enter so completely into resonance with his partner that she found she could do the exercise herself with no effort at all and her own small circulation was activated as well.

This energy circuit also recalls other meditation practices, that of Indian tantric yoga in particular. Under the Tang dynasty, meditation was tied to sexual practices of yin-yang balance, and people spoke of a communication between the heart energies and the sexual organs. These methods, it was said, helped increase jing, that is, innate, or intrinsic, energy.

The Woman of Purity said:
If a man can practice the small circulation for three years, his dantian will be so powerful that he will achieve extraordinary physical strength; he will be able to keep an erection for a long time during sex.

Most of the errors that occur in the practice of small cir-' culation come from improper breathing. Breathing during this exercise can be done in various ways with different rhythms: it should be light or forced; it should have a rapid or slow rhythm; it should be shallow or deep. The Taoist text known as the Tao Tsang speaks of a particular way of breathing: "Inhalation is continuous, exhalation is thin and drawn out."

According to tradition, the following three things are required of your internal attitude: your heart (your affective
nature, your emotions) must be at peace; your determination must guide your qi; your qi must follow the movements of your breathing. For this, you will need to concentrate. The process is called Hu Xi Dao Yin, Guiding the Breath.

These two channels form an energy circuit that begins at the perineum, passes up the back to the crown of the head, and then returns along the front of the body, passing through the dantian and the sexual organs. Taoists believe that anyone who wants to take the path of return toward original being must open these channels. Practicing the small circulation will usually produce heat sensations or pleasant vibrations throughout the abdomen and the genital organs and toward the sacrum, but these feelings should not be provoked consciously or sought out for their own sake. The practitioner should instead regard them with a certain objectivity and simply observe them as they occur.

The goal of this meditation is to make qi circulate toward the Du and Ren channels in order to create a lasting balance of yin and yang energies at every level of your being. Frequent circulation of an uninterrupted energy flow by means of this exercise will lead to better health, improved sexuality, and greater longevity. This meditation is practiced in a sitting position, either on a chair with your feet some distance apart or in a cross-legged or half-lotus position on the floor.

Begin the exercise in an attitude of calm and quietude. Cast aside all outside and chaotic thoughts and let your emotions be at peace. Then close your eyes gently, without forcing them shut, so that you allow a little light to pass beneath the lids; your jaws should be relaxed as you breathe lightly, gently, calmly, and continuously (in other words, at no time should there be any stoppage of the breath). Don't try to hold your breath, as is sometimes done in yoga. Your tongue should touch the roof of your mouth, thereby linking the Du and Ren channels at the yinjiao point, "the bridge of the feet."

You can hold your hands in one of two ways: the first and simplest way is to let them rest on your kneecaps; the second way is to place one hand on top of the other, with both palms facing upward. This is the preferred position in Chan (the precursor of Zen). The thumbs should be touching each other.

After being in this position for a few moments, you should begin to feel a warm energy current appearing in the lower cinnabar field (xia dantian); this is the first stage. In men, this energy is yang; in women, it is yin. Breathe through your nose (gently enough so that you "are not making noise as you breathe in and out) as you slightly contract your anus upward and mentally guide qi along a trajectory from the dantian through the perineum, the sacrum, the lumbar, dorsal, and cervical vertebrae, and finally to the Ba Hui point at the crown of the head.

du channel

This entire trajectory is accomplished in one inhalation and should follow the pace of your breathing. Then exhale through your nose—again, without making noise as you breath—while visualizing the descent of qi down the front of your body along the Ren channel as it makes its downward trajectory from the Ba Hui point through the lateral edges of each eye, the base of the tongue (the upper "bridge of the feet"), then, as though you were swallowing qi, down the throat and the front of the chest to the lower cinnabar field and then back down toward the perineum. Throughout your exhalation, your stomach should protrude slightly forward. In this way, an uninterrupted circuit is established:

Above and below, yin and yang rise and fall again and again; the fluid of life (jing) circulates ceaselessly in a circle; the purple palace and the limpid dragon (yin) communicate with the white tiger (yang); the mysterious palace (the pineal gland) and the axis of the earth (the dantian) join with the light of heaven (qi).
Throughout this exercise, your breathing should be slow and gentle (effortless), precise (with keen awareness), and tegular (your inhalations should last as long as your exhalations, and there should be no stoppage of breath be-tween these two phases, which should succeed one another naturally). In short, your breathing should be natural and unimpeded.

One of the greatest difficulties people encounter in per- forming this meditation consists of getting over what the ancients called "the three passes." These three stages are energy obstructions that result directly from the structure of the human anatomy: The first pass is located at the coc-cyx. The second is the mingmen point between the kidneys. The third is the "pillar of jade" at the occiput. These three passes are areas where it is difficult to feel qi as it flows past. Even if one does not believe that breath and air can travel throughout the body, there is no denying that qi travels in a very real sense along the imaginary trajectory, producing actual physiological and sensorial changes. This double nature of qi should make us reflect on the hypothesis that our body, as an energy field, has a profound relationship with our mind. Certain scientists today have no qualms about hypothesizing consciousness as the master of the physical universe. Might not the small circulation actually be an energy movement that imitates microcosmically the vast movements of the stars, thereby accelerating the process of human evolution?

Taoist theory speaks of the three precious pills of human life and sexual symbology: the celestial pill, which is the pure breaths that, in the process of normal abdominal or reverse breathing, reach down to the sexual centers; the terrestrial pill, comprising not only our earthly sustenance— what we eat and drink—but also the telluric energies; and the human pill, symbolizing one's sexual partner and his or her energies.

The small celestial circulation brings into play the three Taoist alchemical elements—wind, fire, and internal elixir: wind symbolizes breath and qi; fire symbolizes mental strength and concentration; and internal elixir symbolizes pure yang energy in a man and pure yin energy in a woman.