If the reader would like to supplement his or her T’ai Chi Chih with a suitable meditation, to bring about an inner stillness after the movements he or she has been practicing, this is an easy one to practice and should have great benefits. It could be a way to Enlightenment. Somewhat similar methods were, euphemistically speaking, the “way to immortality” practiced by ancient Taoists.
Seat yourself in an upright chair, with the backbone held straight. (Those used to sitting in any cross-legged position, such as the full or half-lotus, should, of course, take that position.) After a moment or two of silence, with the eyes closed, adjust the breath so that it is flowing evenly, push the tongue against the upper palate (roof of the mouth), and open the nostrils wide.
Now we are going to take a current up the spine and down the front. To make it easier to feel, let’s visualize it as a warm, golden, slightly moist light.
First, concentrate on the base of the spine (tailbone). Then, lift this warm, golden light slowly up the backbone. First, the small of the back, then the central part, the shoulder blades, the shoulders, the neck, and the base of the skull—thrilling each cell, as the current passes through, with the warm, golden feeling.
Next, the light reaches the top of the head, and we let it rest there for a few moments, the warm, golden feeling splashing down over the top of the skull and bathing us in its slightly moist, healing radiance.
After holding the light at the top of the head for a short while, bring it slowly down the front—past the eyes, the nose, the mouth, the chin, and on to the neck; then, to the chest, the heart region, and the abdomen. Finally, it reaches the spot two inches below the navel (the tan t’ien, or seat of heaven), where we let it stay for a few minutes, feeling the warm, golden current there, but making no effort to think about anything.
Now we are going to add two devices to make it easier to bring this warm, golden current up the spine.
1) As we move it up from the tailbone, we slowly inhale. By the time the current reaches the top of the head, our chest is expanded and holding its full capacity of air.
Hold the breath for a comfortable while. Let the light cascade down over the top of the head as we hold the breath, before starting down.
2) As we inhale and move the light up the spine, gradually raise the eyes from the spot below the navel, until they are pointed up toward the top of the head at the time the current reaches there and the breath is full. In other words, we use the eyes as a rope, or lever, to gradually lift the breath and the current, the three acting together. This should make it much easier to get the current to the top of the head (the “thousand-petaled lotus”).
After holding the breath for a little while, as the eyes are pointed up and the current is at the top of the skull, we gradually begin to lower it down the front, at the same time slowly dropping our eyes (which are still closed). As the breath is gradually let out, we are careful not to do it fast, as this would call for an immediate reflex in-breath. Rather, we let it out in “sections,” and, when the light is back down at the tan t’ien, the eyes are turned down at the spot below the navel and the breath has come to rest. If it feels as if we are about to breathe in at once, simply force more air out and come to rest. This period of resting the current in the tan t’ien, with the air out, is an important one. We are between breaths and, apparently, between thoughts. Make it a period of no mental activity as we rest in “ourselves.” When the in breath comes, start the cycle again. Or, if you feel any tension, take a few natural breaths, with eyes closed, and when you feel relaxed again, and ready, start again. This is the full meditation, and it is suggested we make the full circle nine times, each time resting at the tan t’ien below the navel.
We can make a larger circle by starting the breath at our feet. In this case, we “breathe” in through the soles of the feet and take the current up the inside of the two legs, before we bring it together at the tan t’ien, and then through the opening between the legs and begin the trip up the spine.
In some esoteric practices, we “breathe” in through the sexual organ before going through the space between the legs and up the back.
If desired, when we are holding the light at the top of the head, with the breath held in, we can, mentally (eyes still closed and pointing up) repeat a mantra or affirmation. “Joy, joy, joyous joy” would be a good affirmation, or just the word “Joy.” We can insert any positive statement we want at this point. It is an effective time to do so.
Practiced regularly, this meditation can bring great benefit. It is up to the reader whether he or she wants to take the time to practice it once or twice a day after doing T’ai Chi Chih. Incidentally, at a boring lecture or gathering, or any time one can be silent for a few minutes (as on a train or plane), it is easy to close the eyes and do this beneficial meditation.