Develop Chi The Taoist Way
Jan 31, 2017 01:47AM
● By Sarina Stone
One of the best tools for stress management and self healing is more than 5,000 years old and was brought back to western culture through a Taoist master named Mantak Chia. The Inner Smile meditation has been recognized as one of the best exercises for stress management and self-healing, easily inducing a state of deep relaxation. Deep relaxation dissolves physical and mental tensions that can cause energetic blockages and illness. For this reason, the Inner Smile is best used as a preparation or warmup in other meditations and chi kung (qigong) exercises that circulate the chi. A smile will help cultivate good chi.
The basic foundation of the Taoist practice teaches how to conserve physical energy within the body so that it will no longer scatter and weaken as a result of worldly interactions. Full emotional independence requires that we avoid being drained of this energy through the eyes, ears, nose and mouth. The novice in the Taoist system begins with a wide range of exercises that develops the physical body into an efficient and healthy organism, able to live in the world and yet stay free of the tensions and stress of daily life. One aspires to return to a childlike state of innocence and vitality, to regain the original force that is our birthright. Specific goals of this level are to learn how to heal oneself, how to love oneself and how to love others.
Master Chia says, “In the Universal Healing Tao System, we start the practice of bringing balanced energy to the body and emotions into balance with the Inner Smile. We often get so out of touch with our bodies and our emotions that we do not notice inner disharmony developing until it finally manifests as a serious illness.”
Well over 500 different forms of chi kung have been developed in China. Many people think that chi kung must involve moving the arms and legs. But the most important part of chi kung is actually being aware of the chi flow in the body. Practicing the Inner Smile daily gives us a regularly scheduled time to look inside, to keep in touch with the state of our inner organs, with our chi, with our breath and with our emotions. We can then spot problems at their inception, making it easier to make adjustments when they first arise and “nip them in the bud.”
Low self-esteem is becoming endemic in our society. “If we are not taught or encouraged to love ourselves, we cannot have a healthy loving relationship with other people, or with our Mother Earth,” says Chia. “Witness the state of the society and environment today as proof of this imbalance. The Inner Smile teaches us to recognize our inherent positive qualities, and not just our negativity. With regular practice, we get to know ourselves as we really are; we can discover our virtues as well as our afflictions,” he says.
This practice helps to form a truer and healthier self-image, one that stays in close touch with reality. The Inner Smile exercises one’s ability to love, starting with ourselves, with our own bodies. As we learn to love and accept ourselves, it becomes natural and easy for us to extend this love outward and to begin to love and accept other people, creatures, places and things.
Because the first level of practice is to develop a healthy body, individuals can also learn how to circulate and refine their smiling energy through the Microcosmic Orbit meditation. One learns to store his/her life force in a chi ball (energy sphere) so it will not dissipate. As people grow older, their life force weakens, often resulting in illness and suffering. Using drugs to combat illness drains so much of the body’s life force that there may be not enough energy left to maintain health. The basic practices of the Universal Healing Tao ensure that people retain enough vital energy. All the practices are interrelated and practicing them together brings the best results.
A rare annual opportunity to study in person with Grandmaster Mantak Chia during his once-a-year North America teacher training will take place at Eastover from June 9 to 27. For more information and details, visit Eastover.com/symposium.html.
The Eastover Estate & Retreat is located at 430 East St., Lenox. For more information on retreats, workshops and classes, call 866-264-5139 or visit Eastover.com.
Sarina Stone is a student of Taoist Master Mantak Chia. She has been teaching gigong and Tao Healing in St. Paul, MN, since 1995. Passionate about sharing natural health techniques via workshops, lectures and literature, Stone assists others in reaching health goals through qigong, meditation and lifestyle changes.