Waigong - Physical Training
Neidan- Energetic Cultivation
Shengong - Mind Training
In our lives good physical health underpins everything that we do. It is essential that we develop a strong physical structure so that we can function to the best of our abilities. The Yin (structure) facilitates the Yang (function). Our physical practices are designed to relax and unify our bodies, re-educating us to use our system more efficiently.
The ancient Taoist's developed these methods primarily to enable them to spend many hours meditating in static postures without developing physical problems. An amazing by-product of these health practices was the capacity to express immense force with a unique taste. Combine that refined power with the mental clarity and stability afforded through the mind training and you have the combination which lead to the famous Chinese internal martial arts.
The Taoist internal alchemy is the practice in the Da Xuan Tradition concerned with the use and transformation of energy. Neidan is famously mapped out in the Nei Jing Tu, an ancient diagram and guide to the elements and stages of energetic cultivation.
We work to develop an excess of energy, through the work of conscious breathing exercises, taking care of the food we eat, using our body more effectively and limiting the waste of energy lost through bad habits in our daily lives. Breath is in fact synomyous with Qi in many classical traditions and the work of building and stocking energy is built around the breathing practices.
Only once we have addressed the need for increased vitality and developed a tangible excess of Qi can turn to the true work of the Neidan, circulating energy consciously within the body, exchanging with the outside world and defining yourself energetically in the universe.
In out tradition we deliberately use the term mind training in place of meditation to eliminate confusion between the different elements of practice which involve the mind. The meditations of our school and the Shendan, the work of the spiritual elixar, are the real deep spiritual practices we work towards, however we can only access those practices once we have the mental capacity for attention and intention.
To build the foundation for those practices we have the Shengong, a series of methods to understand and develop our capacity for and longevity of attention, to understand the structure of our mind (Shen) and the patterns of thought, and to develop our presence in the moment, often called mindfulness in other traditions.
Through regular Shengong practice we calm the Yi (mental/intellectual mind) and interupt the pathogenic thought cycles which unconsciously dominate our minds, freeing ourselves to interact with the emergent present in the moment.