Wednesday, June 10, 2009

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

8. NEIYANG GONG: INTERNAL STRENGTHENING
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.

GENERAL SUGGESTIONS FOR PRACTICING NEIYANG GONG
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.

NEIYANG GONG: INTERNAL HEALING EXERCISE
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:

































































































































Problem

Frequency

Duration

Respiration

Concentration

Impotence

Twice

10 to 30

Normal or

Abdomen



minutes

Special 2



Spermatorrhea

Two to

10 to 30

Normal or

Abdomen



three

minutes

Special 2





times







Genital

Two to

10 to 30

Normal or

Abdomen

infections

three

minutes

Special 2





times







Dysmenorrhea

Two to

10 to 30

Special 2

Abdomen



three

minutes







times







Prolapse of the

Two to

10 to 30

Normal

Abdomen

uterus

three

minutes







times







Frigidity

Two to

10 to 30

Normal

Abdomen



three

minutes







times









9. TAPPING THE ESSENCE OF THE SUN AND THE NECTAR OF THE MOON
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).

VISUALIZATION EXERCISE FOR COLLECTING THE YANG ESSENCE OF THE SUN
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.

VISUALIZATION EXERCISE FOR COLLECTING THE YIN NECTAR OF THE MOON
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.

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