Each of the three yogic traditions shines its torch of wisdom from a particular vantage on the spiritual path. So, it only stands to reason that one should make especial use of these particular strengths when crafting an integrated practice. The following practices form the foundation for Neidan yoga. Without them, one simply cannot progress to higher levels of awareness:
Mindfulness — right-brain (spatial, "timeless") meditation which develops a basic awareness of "the now" (actual experience).
Weigong — qigong (control of biological energies) especially focused upon flows of electricity on and just outside of the body surface; skill here leads to improved health and mental focus and lays the groundwork for the first level of mind and body integration.
Mantra — prayer using repetition of a short phrase; this exceptional devotional practice leads to development of left-brain (sequential) concentration and opening of the heart; over time, this technique provides the basis for deep personal and transpersonal transformation (akin to depth psychotherapy and shamanic journey work).
1) Sit in a comfortable meditation posture with back straight and body aligned. Make sure to incorporate basic qigong alignments such as armpits open; crown of head, perineum and soles of feet energetically synchronized; head lifting gently and pelvis/tailbone dropping (which causes a gentle traction along the spine to help open each vertebral joint).
2) Say a short mantra (usually 6 - 11 syllables) using a mala (prayer beads or rosary) to keep track. Your goal is to complete an entire mala (108 repetitions).
3) WHILE you say the mantra ALSO run qi along the Stomach [ST] and Spleen [SP] meridians. These two meridians are connected: the ST qi flows into the SP channel. Each time you say the mantra, simultaneously send qi coursing along both these channels. Do one side of the body for a while (for example, just the ST and SP on the left side of the body) and then the other side. Every once in a while do both sides, at the same time, to help integrate the effect. Later, a more advanced practice runs ST qi from one side of the body to the SP channel on the opposite side. Practice both combinations.
4) You also need to monitor your awareness during the entire process. When the brain starts to lose focus or you notice your overall energy derailing (you get fidgety or drowsy) you should STOP the mantra and qi work for a short while. Mark the current location on the mala (you can use the tassel if it has one). Sit in mindfulness for several minutes (7 min is ideal; it should, at least, be 3 min), then take up the mantra and qi work again.
This step is energy medicine: when your awareness flags or falters it’s simply because the blood flow and electrical rhythms have had it for a while and need a break or some stimulation. The mindfulness practice increases circulation and electrical activity for the right brain. Since the mantra and qi work mostly uses left brain processes, this short lacuna will noticeably revitalize your whole system: you will feel better, think more clearly and actually enjoy returning to the mantra practice since it, in turn, complements the mindfulness. In effect you are shunting blood between sides of the brain and giving your head a nice scrub-a-dub-dub (washing) … like a pleasant and gentle summer rain. Try it. It works … amazingly well, too.
theory — first steps on the Jyotish star map
Jyotish (Vedic astrology) provides a brilliant vantage on the panorama of life. For those treading the spiritual path, the first port of call beckons toward a journey inward to find one's authentic self (true heart and values). In Jyotish, a chart based upon the Arudha lagna (AL) provides the perspective needed for this shamanic journey of transformation and liberation. The Jyotish pages on this site give an overall map of the full trek to Light but you only need read the parts that relate to the AL for now:
introduction to qigong and its basic principles
Qigong consists of two words: qi (energy) and gong (skill). Taken together these words suggest a practice oriented towards regulating physiology. And, in fact, qigong is just such an exercise. It consists of gentle movements alternating with some periods of stillness. There are hundreds of styles but they all aim to integrate body movement, breath and thought leading to improved health.
The roots of qigong reach back five thousand years to ancient China. This form originated primarily from early attempts to preserve health and prevent illness. Over the centuries, it evolved as part of Traditional Chinese Medicine. In modern times, western research has validated many of its medical benefits. So much so that this approach is now called Chinese Medical Qigong, a branch of medicine that receives government sponsorship and much research.
Although qigong had some relation to ancient shamanism, it was first clearly applied for spiritual pursuits in the form of Daoist Qigong which can be traced back to the Qin dynasty (about 220 B.C.E.). The Dao De Jing written during this period laid the foundation for this form of qigong. The aim of Daoist Qigong is the cultivation of health, longevity and spirituality. The most famous exercise from this approach is known in the west as the microcosmic orbit and is a circulation of qi along the midline of both the front and back of the body.
From the foregoing, you can see that whatever the aim of qigong practice—whether it tends toward self-help or medical therapy or spiritual and personal development—the practice always includes cultivation of health. This follows because the body is essentially an electromagnetic field with some chemistry thrown in to keep the whole story interesting. Scientists are now learning that many physiological processes in the body and mind are in fact regulated by electromagnetic processes. Qigong exercises provide a simple, hands-on way to harmonize these electric fields without the need of fancy computers or electronic gizmos.
You can think of it this way: you have an electric field about your body that becomes more and less organized (neat and tidy) depending upon your mood and state of health. This works both ways. Upset feelings or tummy can cause a messy electric field but vice-versa, the field, if disorganized for some reason (for instance, prolonged exposure to florescent lights), can disrupt normal health and function of your body and even your feelings and thoughts. So, a way to circumvent this in large measure is to practice qigong. It is like you are a big shaggy dog and the electric field about your body is all that fluffy and long stringy hair. If the doggy has just had a bath and had all the tangles combed out of her or his fur, then all is well. This is like you doing the qigong exercises which usually entail simple movements of the arms and hands around the body. The hands have the most electrical charge in the body so a qigong exercise is akin to combing out the shaggy dog's messy hair.