Taoist Yoga and the microcosmic orbit.

To some the phrase “Taoist yoga” may conjure up the ancient stances of the Chinese martial arts or the stylized poses of the Peking opera. But Taoist yoga has little to do with poses or stances: rather, it is a precise science of cultivating the body’s subtle energy, or ch’ i, for balancing and healing the body and mind. And according to old Chinese texts and a handful of modern master, it is a safe and sure practice for attaining enlightenment as well.

One such modern master is Mantak Chia who has been teaching the methods of his Taoist lineage in North America since 1977. Neither a scholar of ancient texts nor a workshop educated purveyor of fashionable growth techniques. Chia is apparently the genuine article – a man who has studied since childhood with a series of authentic masters and has been specifically empowered to pass on to others the ancient teachings of Taoist yoga.

Taoism and Taoist Adepts
Taoism is a religion a philosophy and a wav of life that has existed in China for over 2,500 years –

Mantak Chia

and parts of it are several thousand years older than that. Over the millennia. Taoism has meant different things to different people. According to Orientalist John Blofeld, scholars identified it with the philosophies of Lao Tzu and Chuang Tzu. To most ordinary folk, Taoism was a loose agglomeration of shamanistic and occult practices.

Yogis who wanted to rejuvenate their bodies and prolong their lives combined philosophy and practice with the secrets of internal alchemy. And to mystics seeking union with the Sublime, the Tao was the esoteric heart of all those teachings. According to Blofeld. Tao (literally, “way” or “path”) can mean the undifferentiated unity from which the universe evolved or the supreme creative and sustaining power that nourishes all creatures. It can mean the wav nature operates as well as the course or path we should follow in order to rise above mundane life and achieve enlightenment.

Taoist philosophers see the world and everything in it as “a seamless web of unbroken movement and change.” What look to us like separate entities -people, animals, events, thoughts – are really just temporary patterns and wave in a dynamic flux. The aim of Taoist spiritual practice is to recognize and cultivate the harmony inherent in this flux, inherent in every dynamic situation or relationship: between oneself and the Earth, between oneself and others, and between the emotions and energies within oneself. Pursuit of inner harmony has led to great spiritual accomplishment in some, tranquility and peace of mind in others, and supernatural powers (used for good or ill) in still others.

The emperors of China traditionally were fascinated with the Taoist yogis reputation for seeing into the minds of others, controlling the weather, and in some cases manipulating or harming others at a distance. They would attempt to cajole and sometimes force their Taoist advisors to use their magical powers for political ends. An unfortunate effect of this was that great secrecy and intrigue grew up around the Taoist practices. The original esoteric system was often taught only piecemeal, lest any one individual become too powerful. As a result, the teachings became scattered or were held secret by a select few. Communist suppression of religion in the 1950s and 1960s forced many Taoists underground or to Taiwan.

One story, told to Master Chia, is particularly chilling. Apparently soldiers of the People’s Republic of China, out combing the countryside for a periodic census, stumbled on nearly a thousand mysteriously immobile old men sitting in meditation in caves of the Five Sacred Mountains of central China. These hermits didn’t respond to any stimuli, didn’t seem to have any need for food or sleep, and didn’t even seem to breathe. The soldiers collected them and placed them, still sitting cross-legged, in a grassy field. Then they tried to wake them. But nothing the soldiers could do would rouse them. The old men were apparently absorbed in deep meditation and were out of their bodies traveling in other dimensions – a very high state in Taoist practice. To the Chinese army, however, these silent meditators were a menace. Word of their existence might spread among the populace and rekindle the peasants’ deep-seated reverence for the ancient teachings. The Chinese government, still embattled with traditional Chinese culture, could not afford to have the people learn of these remarkable adepts – so the army doused them with gasoline and set them a fire.

In the light of such stories, it should not be surprising that Taoism has only begun to reemerge in the last few years. Yet Taoist practices continue to permeate Chinese culture. Today hundreds of millions of mainland Chinese practice chi kung exercises and t’ai chi ch’uan; and acupuncture and herbology, offshoots of Taoist internal alchemy, remain very popular. In addition, Peking’s White Cloud Taoist Monastery now boasts 40 young adepts, who are strictly celibate and vegetarian, wear traditional black robes, tie their hair in Top knots, and study the internal alchemy of the Dragon Gate Sect. Yet translations of Chinese texts and Taoists willing to teach their secrets have remained scarce for Westerners until Mantak Chia decided that these Taoist methods were far too valuable to be kept hidden.

Born in Thailand in 1944 of Chinese immigrant parents. Chia says he learned the internal alchemy directly from an accomplished Taoist adept. White Cloud Hermit, who fled his mountain cave in China during World War II and settled in the mountains outside Hong Kong. Young Chia was a particularly apt candidate to inherit this venerable tradition. As a child of six he practiced Buddhist meditation with local Thai monks and white in grammar school in Hong Kong, learned t’ai chi chuan, aikido, and Hatha Yoga from two Chinese masters. Later while in his 20s, he studied Kundalini Yoga from an Indian yogi in Singapore.

From various other masters the young Chia learned a synthesis of Taoist. Southern Buddhist and Ch’an (Zen) teachings: a healing technique called Buddhist Palm: a new martial arts system combining Thai Boxing and kung fu: a secret Shao-lin technique for collecting internal energy and powers and the Iron Shirt and Steel Body techniques for strengthening muscles and tendons. His primary teacher however, was White Cloud hermit, who taught Mantak Chia every level of what he mow calls Taoist Esoteric Yoga.

What is Taoist Yoga?
Like meditional Indian yoga. Taoist Esoteric Yoga cultivates the subtle life force its Indian counterpart, Taoist yoga recognizes various kinds and levels of chi. The goals of both systems are the same spiritual growth and ultimately, enlightenment. In other ways, however, Taoist yoga differs from the Indian system.

For one thing Taoists do not see the body and its pleasures as maya, illusion. But rather as a valuable storehouse of energy and impulses, Physical pleasure is thus not to be transcended immediately, but first cultivated and utilized, and then transcended only in the final stage of development. Taoist also do not use subtle vibrational methods, such as mantras and visualizations, to transform gross emotions and impulses into higher, spiritual ones. Rather, they use subtle energies to awaken even subtler and more powerful energies, which are used in turn to awaken yet more refined and powerful energies.

The first technique Master Chia teachers, for example, is called the Micro cosmic Orbit. (See the sidebar accompanying this article.) In this practice, ch’i is first collected in the navel area and tailbone, up the spine to the perineum and tailbone, up the spine to the crown, and down the top of the head and face to the palate. The tongue is then touched to the roof of the mouth, completing a circuit between the “governor meridian” along the back and the “functional meridians” along the front of the body.

After returning to the navel along the throat and chest, the ch’i continues to circulate around the body along this new orbital path. Taoist believe that all ch’i is generated in the navel area, in the subtle energy center called the tan t’ ien (corresponding to the Japanese hara and the yogic third or manipura chakra). The energy from other subtle dimensions is believed to enter the physical realm at point. If one concentrates on the navel.

Taoists teach, one can feel an accumulation of warmth and tingling energy in the area, and with proper instruction and practice one can learn to use this ch’i to great advantage, awakening the innate healing energy in the book and conferring ever-increasing health benefits, this technique is said to open up the circular meridian route, which is used later in more advanced practices. It is also the first step in learning to consciously direct ch’i another technique needed for advanced inner work. After mastering the Microcosmic Orbit, the Taoist yoga student learns how to send ch’i along several other subtle channels, the arms and legs: the vertical channel, or “thrusting route.”

That is said to arise through the middle of the body from the perineum to the crown: and the waist, or “belt route.” In the Fusion of the Five Elements practice the student learns to harmonize the different kinds of internal energies recognized by Chinese medicine (hot, cold, warm, cool and dry, and mild), energies traditionally associated with specific internal organs. This harmonization is said to create what Master Chia calls a kind of perfect inner weather, which greatly enhances digestion and, more importantly, balances and harmonizes the emotions.

Transforming Sexual and Emotional Energy
According to Master Chia, negative emotions, instead of being released, acted out, or “dumped” on others, can be gathered in the pakua (crucible or cauldron) in the tan t’ien and transformed back into neutral ch’i. When these negative emotions have been drawn from their organs of origin (anger from the liver, sadness from the lungs, arrogance from the heart, fear from the kidneys, and worry from the spleen), the various corresponding virtues begin to emerge. These virtues can then be blended and transformed into compassion, which is the essential food of the spirit body.

“Without compassion.” Chia explains, “advanced spiritual practices are impossible.” “But most people are not ready to develop compassion.” he continues. “They need to develop their physical and energy bodies first. Se we teach them about energy and health. The energy or soul body is like a booster rocket to boost the spirit body’ free of this incarnation.”
Taoists claim that when the physical energies are properly balanced and transformed, the physical body gives birth to an energy (or soul) body, which in turn gives birth to the spirit body, the vehicle through which we achieve enlightenment. In other words, basic ch’i can be used to generate subtler and still more powerful ch’i, and so on as one works one’s way through ever-more spiritual dimensions of being.

The most powerful way to generate ch’i, say the Taoists, is to cultivate and transform – or, as Master Chia puts it, “recycle” – sexual energy. He teaches methods for utilizing sexual energy while in an unaroused state by tapping the abundant reproductive energy of the ovaries and testicles. He also teaches methods for utilizing the energy of full sexual arousal, the most powerful ch’i generator of all, both in solitary practice (self-stimulation) and together with one’s lover.

Master Chia differentiates between ejaculation and orgasm and between what he calls “inward” (or “upward”) and “outward” orgasm. “Sexual energy is spiritual energy,” he claims, “and should be worked with rather than suppressed. One can’t perform advanced spiritual practices without first working directly with the physical energy.” As a result, Chia encourages his students to have orgasms during lovemaking but teaches them how to rechannel the energy inward and upward for spiritual purposes. According to Master Chia, a man can have many “inward” orgasms without ever ejaculating.

Internal Alchemy
The most advanced practices of Taoist yoga, known in traditional texts as “internal alchemy,” utilize the subtle channels that have been opened, the internal elements and emotions that have been balanced, and the energies that have been stimulated and accumulated in other techniques. Western readers have often been confused by the coded language used in these texts, with their reference to “cinnabar,” “lead,” and various internal pots, furnaces, and cauldrons for forming a “golden elixir’ and an “immortal fetus.”

According to Chinese scholar and Taoist practitioner Kenneth Cohen, even texts in the original Chinese are difficult to understand, probably because, he says. the words were meant as mnemonic devices for those already initiated into the yogic practices. Cohen says that even the well-known classic The Secret of the Golden Flower was grossly mistranslated, by Richard Wilhelm, into ethnocentric Western psychological terms.

Mantak Chia explains and teaches these heretofore secret alchemical processes very simply, to those of his students who have learned co generate an abundance of the more refined levels of ch’i. He calls them the Lesser and Greater Kan and Li practices, or “steaming.” In these practices the energies of two or more chakras are combined with the energy of the sexual organs and drawn to the navel. The heat or internal fire generated is said to “boil” the energy in the navel cauldron (pa kua) to a steam, which is forced under pressure up the subtle channel in the middle of the body to the crown of the head. According to Mantak Chia, this “steaming” practice causes the physical body to undergo a profound change.

The heart and circulatory system become much more efficient: the circulation is increased, but the heart rate is slowed. The immune system function is enhanced, as is the general physical vitality. The thymus gland in the chest, which in most adults has atrophied, begins co regenerate and grow larger, and the pituitary gland in the middle of the head also alters and grown. These glandular alterations start to enliven and expand the person’s spiritual faculties – or, as mentioned earlier, the physical body “gives birth to the soul (or energy) body.” At first this soul body is just a baby, “fed” by the nourishment of the regenerated glands, particularly the thymus.

At a certain point of development, after the soul body is fully grown, it in turn gives birth to the spirit body, and the pineal gland, just above the pituitary in the middle of the head, begins to enlarge. At first the spirit body too, is just a baby, but it receives, nourishment from the ever-more-refined ch’i of the physical and soul bodies. Ancient Taoist texts make reference to “immortals,” Taoist masters hundreds of years old who live on dew, pine nuts and the invigorating high mountain air.

These texts also refer to generating a “fetus,” through alchemical practices, that later becomes an “immortal spirit body” capable of taking the adept all the way to the highest enlightenment. According to Mantak Chia, this is exactly what “steaming” and other advanced practices are designed to do. The Taoist yogi does not become physically immortal, but rather becomes capable of exceptional longevity and youthful health and vigor. These elderly adepts often look like men and women of middle years.

White Cloud Hermit, for example, Mantak Chia’s primary teacher, still had black hair, an unlined face, and the vigor of a young man at the age of 96. The yogis’ remarkable longevity and health allows them to continue their advanced practices for many decades in one lifetime. “The physical body is the starting point,” says Mantak Chia, “and it contains the potential ‘wealth.’ or ch’i, to take the person all the way to enlightenment.” In the Taoist system the “wealth” is increased by the preliminary and advanced practices, particularly the conservation and recycling of sexual energy.

This “wealth” is then transferred to the next body, the energy body, where it is refined further and ultimately passed on to the infant spirit body. When the spirit body has grown to adulthood, the Taoist adept can leave the physical and energy bodies behind and ascend to full enlightenment. “Which is more important in reaching a distant shore,” asks Mantak Chia, “the boat, the engine, or the captain?” The physical body is the boa, he explains; the soul body is the engine that powers the boat; and the spirit body is the captain that is in charge of the whole trip, the one who eventually steps onto the shore and leaves both boat and engine behind.

The idea of growing new subtle bodies for spiritual purposes sounds very much like the old Indian yogic belief, which is shared by some Western metaphysical schools, that we have different subtle sheaths, or bodies, on different dimensions – the emotional astral body, the mental body, the causal body, the soul body, and so on. As we grow spiritually, these higher bodies are said to awaken from their latency, and we begin to inhabit them more, and our physical bodies less.

Taoist and Indian Yogas Compared

One major difference between the Indian and Taoist yoga systems is that the Taoist do not combine ch’i cultivation with devotion to a teacher. Master Chia is very insistent on this point, claiming that Taoist students do not seek the teacher’s grace or power for spiritual awakening, but rather look to the master for instruction on how to awaken their own latent energy potential. He does admit that Taoist teachers will direct some of their own ch’i into a student’s meridians to give a momentary boost, as his own teachers did and as he does with his Microcosmic Orbit students. But one need not surrender one’s will to the master or create an alliance of devotion and dependence.

Indian and Taoist years also differ in their handing of kundalini energy. Certain meditation practices, breathing techniques, and other methods are said to arouse this latent energy, causing it to ascend through the central subtle channel in the body, piercing and opening each chakra as it rises, until it fuses with the crown chakra at the top of the head, (See ” Kundalini Demystified” in the September October 1985 issue of Yoga Journal.) So powerful is this arousal that practitioners – particularly those without adequate instruction or guidance – occasionally undergo a “kundalini crisis.” an arousal that has apparently gone awry.

People in crisis may experience hallucinations, intense and unpleasant physical sensations, or frightening and seemingly uncontrollable rushes of energy or emotion. Mantak chia has a simple explanation for such problems: the energy is being improperly channeled. Taoists believe that running energy from the tailbone to the crown is only completing half the circuit.

Since the head and brain are “hot” and the tailbone is “cold.” so much heat accumulates that the person may become extremely uncomfortable, and the body may even be damaged. They feel the kundalini energy should be directed down the top of the head to the forehead and palate, then through the tongue (which is placed against the roof of the mouth) to the throat chakra, and on down the functional meridian to the tailbone. This of course is exactly the route traced by the Microcosmic Orbit. The Taoists believe that the hot energy should be cooled off by its route through the lower part of the body.

In their view, to achieve a balanced spiritual development, one shouldn’t just go to “Heaven” in the crown chakra, but one should also come back to “Earth” in the root chakra, thus maintaining a perfect equilibrium between the two components while still in physical existence. Bringing the energy back into the denser, more physical dimension of the root chakra and the physical body’ does not coarsen the individual nr retard his or her spiritual growth. they say. After all, the physical body’ is the only vehicle available to us for generating spiritual experience in the first place.

Mantak Chia has worked with a number of Western meditators and yoga students who came to him, usually as a last resort, to help them with their kundalini crisis. He simply taught them how to complete the Microcosmic Orbit, and many had profound relief from what in some cases was unbearable discomfort.

Unveiling the Ancient Secrets
Although Taoist philosophy has long been available to us through translations of Lao Tzu and books about Chinese history and culture, the specific techniques of its ” alchemy” or yoga have been kept as closely guarded secrets, passed from master to student only after years of preparation and initiation. Why is Mantak Chia so freely teaching these ancient teachings now? “The world can really use some help right now.” he says. “And the peacefulness, calm, health and vigor the Taoist system can give to individuals can be multiplied in our societies. Just think of what the world would be like if we were all calm and healthy and emotionally balanced.”

 

Microcosmic Orbit Meditation:
The Microcosmic Orbit meditation does not consist of stilling the mind, watching the breath, visualizing a deity or symbol, or reciting a mantra. It is rather a process for generating and circulating a warm, tingling current of ch’i (vital energy) around the body at the midline: up the spine, over the head and face, down the chest and belly, under the genitals, and back up the spine, over and over again. This is not an imagined movement of one’s attention over the skin, but a very palpable flow that takes the meditator into a peaceful yet energized state. According to Master Mantak Chia, when properly performed, the Microcosmic Orbit meditation confers profound and lasting health benefits, strengthening and cleansing the internal organs from within. Once the Taoist student is proficient in the technique, he or she need only focus the attention on the navel, and the circulation of warm, healing energy will begin automatically.

To become proficient, however, the student must first learn to generate ch’i in the navel, then to “open” 12 more centers along the Microcosmic Orbit route, and then to pass the ch’i through each center until it begins to circulate by itself. According to Master Chia, with 15-30 minutes of practice twice a day, this practice can be learned in anywhere from several days to a year or two. Students usually learn the Microcosmic Orbit directly from Master Chia or one of the teachers he has trainee. With that in mind, we offer the following abbreviated description not as a set of complete instructions, but rather as a brief glimpse of the process, designed to whet the reader’s curiosity for further, study.

Generating Chi in the Navel:
The Microcosmic Orbit meditation is done sitting on the edge of a chair, the back comfortably erect and the head bowed, slightly. Because sexual energy is a part of the ch’i that circulate through the body, men should allow the scrotum to hang freely off the edge of the chair, to keep it from being constricted in any way.

The hands are clasped gently in the lap, with the left hand on the bottom and the right hand on top. The process used fur generating energy in the navel is also used for generating energy in and “opening” each successive point along the route. The Taoist student concentrates on the navel and directs the inner vision there, even though the eyes remain closed. He or she presses firmly on the navel with the index finger for a minute or so, then returns to the hands-folded position, concentrating on the residual sensation of finger pressure. This is done repeatedly until a sensation of warmth, tingling, tightness, or expansion (or all of these) arises at the navel center.

Once the sensation has been established, the student sits with it until the end of the meditation. (Each meditation session lasts from 15 to 30 minutes.) Some people will feel a strong and continuing warmth in the navel after only a few session: others may need to focus and concentrate there twice daily for several weeks before any stable sensation arises. Each meditation is ended by circling the navel with the right fist. Men circle the navel 36 times clockwise, making ever larger circles (but no larger than 6 inches in diameter), and 24 times counterclockwise, in circles that gradually become smaller. Women make 36 counterclockwise and 24 clockwise circles.

Opening the Microcosmic Orbit Centers
After the meditator has learned to summon energy easily to the navel center (and the finger technique is no longer needed), he or she begins to practice on the next center, the “ovary palace” or “sperm palace,” using the same techniques as for the navel center. After this center is easily filled with ch’i – that is becomes warm and tingling – the student learns to open the next center, and so on around the route. Several days to weeks may be spent on each center in turn. However, the meditation always starts with the navel center and the “open” centers that follows it, with, several minutes spent concentrating on each.

And every meditation ends by gathering energy back into the navel with the fist – circling method. Ch’i is not generated in the centers, as it is in the navel rather, the centers are opened so the ch’i can flow freely. The Taoists believe (and the meditation confirms this belief) that the ch’i will flow nationally through the Microcosmic Orbit as long as the various centers arc not blocked. Since many centers on most people are blocked, however the initial stages of the Microcosmic Orbit concentrate on unblocking them. The most effective way of cleansing a blocked center is to focus ch’i there twice daily for several weeks.
The following centers along the “governor” (back) and “functional” (front) meridians are used in the Microcosmic Orbit:
“Sperm Palace” and “Ovary Palace”: Approximately 1? to 2 inches above the pubic bone at the level of t he prostate gland in men (acupuncture point CO3) and midway between the ovaries in women (point C04). Slightly higher in women than in men.
Perineum: On the small patch of skin midway between the anus and the penis or vagina.
Coccyx: At the tip of the tailbone, an inch or so above the anus.
Kidney Point: On the “governor meridian” along the spine opposite the navel, between the second and third lumber vertebrae (G04).
Adrenal Point: On the “governor meridian” slightly above the adrenal glands, between the 11th and 12th thoracic vertebrae (G06).
Cerebellum: At the bony protrusion on the bottom half of the back of the head, at the level of the cerebellum or lower brain.
Crown of the Head: The top of the head, corresponding to the crown chakra in Indian yoga.
Brow Point: On the forehead between the eyebrows corresponding to the brow, or sixth chakra.
Palate: The medirator places the tongue firmly against the soft part of the roof of the mouth. This conducts the ch’i energy from the brow center (in the middle of the head) through the bridge and tip of the nose into the palate and on down to the throat center.
Throat: At the base of the throat, at the level of the thyroid gland, corresponds to the throat chakra (C021).
Heart: Above the heart on the breastbone, corresponding to the heart chakra (C017).
Solar Plexus: In the inverted “V” of the ribs, over the stomach. Corresponds to the solar plexus chakra (C012).
Navel: The meditation ends at the navel, with the clockwise and counterclockwise circle.

From:

http://www.universal-tao.com/article/esoteric.html

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The Inner Smile Meditation technique.

Are you smiling or frowning to yourself? Smiling is the secret to health and serenity according to several spiritual traditions. The Inner Smile practice propounds that when we smile like a Buddha, the world beams back.



The Smile Solution
Mother Theresa believe,

“peace begins with a smile.”

A sincere smile shines from our soul, making the world a warmer place. As Joseph Addison expressed,

“What sunshine is to flowers, smiles are to humanity.”

A genuine smile puts us at ease whilst a frown creates unease, promoting disease and depression according to modern and traditional medicine. Smiling to others and ourselves is a gift of love. The universal language of a smile speaks straight to the heart, bypassing the intellect and ego. To nurture loving relationships Ayurveda advises one greet others with a pleasant face, Buddhism encourages friendliness to all (maitri) and Taoism teaches that giving ourselves a grin is the best medicine.
A deep inner smile spreads like a relaxing elixir making us receptive to transform negative energy into positive. Conversely, a scowl suppresses our immune system by increasing stress, contracting channels and blocking energy. Research by French physiologist Dr Israel Waynbaum indicates that facial muscles used to express emotion trigger specific brain neuro transmitters.

Smiling signals happy healing hormones such as ecstatic endorphins and immune boosting killer T-cells whereas frowning triggers the secretion of stress hormones. Smile therapy actually lowers the stress hormones cortisol, adrenalin and noradrenaline and produces hormones which stabilise blood pressure, relax muscles, improve respiration, reduce pain, accelerate healing and stabilise mood. If you’re feeling down the stress hormones secreted with a scowl may increase blood pressure, weaken the immune system, increase susceptibility to infections, and exacerbate depression and anxiety.
But what if we don’t feel like smiling? Can we fake it till we make it? Though a heart-felt smile has a deeper effect, even a surface smile tricks the brain into releasing happy hormones according to facial biofeedback research2. And the more we smile, the more we want to smile concluded a study where people allowed to smile found cartoons funnier than those suppressed from smiling by holding pencils in their lips. This is because each time we smile we reinforce happy neural pathways that fire more spontaneously with each subsequent use. Self- love smiling circuits then release healing nectar and self-hate messages release poisons that breed disease according to Taoism.

A Smile Trial
How often do you smile? Try a smile trial for a minute. Relax your face and let a subtle ‘Mona Lisa’ smile spread from your eyes to your lips. Now frown and sense the emotional and energetic shift. Feel the difference? Considering it takes only 26 muscles to smile and 62 muscles to frown, why wear the strain of a scowl? As motivational speaker Les Giblin felt

“If you’re not using your smile, you’re like a man with a million dollars in the bank and no check book.”
Smiles seem to have a cultural element. Japanese rate so low on the smile-o-meter they’re being encouraged to smile to increase profits.

“Japanese are truly hopeless at smiling. That’s caused the loss of many business opportunities,”

says Makoto Tonami, president of Mac Corp, owner of beauty salons offering thirty-minute smile sessions using exercises and a machine to uplift the mouth muscles and spirits. Britain has sorry smile statistics also as recent research revealed that if you smile at 100 people, 70 people will smile back in Bristol, 68 in Glasgow, 18 in London and only 4 in Edinburgh. Writing this in Thailand I noticed how people go out of their way to smile to others while in many other places I’ve found people often avert their gaze as if avoiding a smile ambush.
It’s easy to share a smile with others, since it’s the second most contagious facial expression next to yawning. Smiling faces are always beautiful and the most endearing accessory. Whereas if people wear an ugly expression meticulous attention to grooming and clothes are overshadowed. But smiles do more than increase your face value; British researchers found that receiving a smile could give more pleasure than sex or eating chocolate. And receiving a smile generated much higher levels of stimulation to the brain and the heart than being given money or having a cigarette.
Don’t underestimate the power of a smile. Use yours and you’ll find it helps to disperse sadness and dissolve stress. So when dressing in the morning remember author Jim Begg’s advise, “Before you put on a frown, make absolutely sure there are no smiles available.”

The Cellular Smile
A genuine smile glows from our deepest layer of self-love, radiating like sunlight through clouds and embracing everything as an extension of oneself. Starting as an inner hug it spreads to soften the whole body, melting malevolent energy to emerge from benevolent eyes and lips. The smile says, “I accept and love you unconditionally.” Our being warms to this kindness, dissolving walls of psychic and physical isolation that prevent wholeness and health. Just as others respond to our loving smile, our cells soak up smiling rays, creating new cells from the inner love affair.
Taoist Master Mantak Chia has taught the inner smile for the past 40 years. He explained its significance to me on my recent visit to his Thailand retreat, “In ancient China, the Taoists taught that a constant inner smile to oneself, insured health, happiness and longevity. Why? Smiling to yourself is like basking in love: you become your own best friend. Living with an inner smile is to live in harmony with yourself.” The smiling energy emanating from Mantak Chia was reminiscent of enlightened souls such as the Dalai Lama. He has an aura of contentment and kindness that put me at ease immediately. Mantak Chia also explained that as sickness starts from negative emotions settling in the organs, the inner smile breaks this cycle. “By transforming destructive emotions into positive energy the inner smile removes the cause and symptoms of disharmony,” he said.
The subtle inner smile is different from a superficial smile set on a fake face with hidden motives and meaning. The inner smile is as innocent and natural as a blissful baby’s smile. It doesn’t impose, demand or expect anything in return. Nor is it a spiritually superior or condescending smile but accepts everything as it is. A genuine smile as opposed to a posed mask makes a significant impact on people’s lives according to Dacher Keltner, a psychology professor at the University of California. After studying college yearbook photos since the 1960’s, Keltner found people with Duchenne smiles, those which involved the eyes, were happier since graduation than the phoney mouth smilers. Keltner concluded,

“Happy smiley people cheer others up around them, which in turn makes them more stable and less prone to depression or divorce than those who faked it in their yearbooks.”
Though laughing has significant benefits, as evidenced by the word-wide laughter clubs, excessive or loud laughing can cause excess surplus chi and increase blood pressure according to Chinese medicine. A mild smile is a more sustainable and inward expression. The soft smile dissolves hardened patterns without struggle or force, gently coaxing a shift in stuck energy. Attacking problems with aversion and aggression only increases resistance and abusing our frailties makes us weaker. Alternatively, sending ourselves loving smiling energy empowers us towards strength and restoration.

Smile Time
The inner smile arises from a loving intention, surfaces on the face then suffuses our internal and external reality. Though a smile may feel fake initially our psychophysiology responds with happiness anyway. As respected Monk Thich Nhat Hanh explains,
“ Sometimes your joy is the source of your smile, but sometimes your smile can be the source of your joy.” Eventually our being is saturated in smiling benevolence and it becomes a constant, effortless expression of our inner bliss. ”
If smiling feels so good why don’t we do it more? Negative thoughts become entrenched in our energy and imprint themselves on our facade. Helen, a recent participant in an Inner Smile Workshop observed-

“Its easier to remain closed and blame externals for our problems. The inner smile requires us to look inside ourselves, accept ourselves and extend that loving energy to everything.”
Ironically we smile least when we need it most. Depression, pain and stress often rob us of the healing humour that can transform our state. Though smiling may be the last thing we feel like doing, it will do us the world of good. When we smile at our pain, worry, troubles and perceived inadequacies we dissolve compounding tension. As Allen Klein, author of The Healing Power of Humour expressed,

“The hardest thing you can do is smile when you are ill, in pain, or depressed. But this no-cost remedy is a necessary first half-step if you are to start on the road to recovery.”

Smiling puts everything into a brighter perspective as we observe the psychodrama of life objectively. As Charlie Chaplin understood,

“Life is a tragedy in close-up and a comedy in long-shot.”
A challenge many experience in practicing the inner smile is the tendency towards negativity. We can catch an inner frown from others negative outlook or our own. When you get tense simply remind yourself to smile again and any inner wrinkles will soon smooth over, uplifting others energy. Strengthen your inner smile by practicing it in difficult situations such as during exercise, traffic jams, long queues and when annoyed.
As it doesn’t take any extra time or effort like other meditation practices, nobody can say, “I don’t have time to smile”. Smile as often as you remember to, knowing it will override negative reactivity and reawaken your core unity of self-acceptance.

A Smile File
Before practicing the inner smile install smiling energy into your cellular memory by creating a smile file. Scan your past for moments of joy and laughter. Then recall your capacity for happiness by reliving that emotion. One can also visualise a peaceful natural scene to imbibe serenity and dissolve stress. Seeing a smiling baby or your own smiling face is another useful image. Looking at funny old photos, jokes, cartoons and movies can help to recapture one’s innate sense of humour.

Start the day with a smile by writing smile on your ceiling and invite more smiles into your life by playing with kids, giving to others and finding the humour in all situations. If you can’t conjure up a smile frown for as long and hard as possible until you get tired and flip to the other extreme of a smile.

Emotional Detox Smile
Our organs store emotional garbage so to clear up inner clutter Mantak Chia recommends first smiling to major organs to detoxify negative emotions. This

“refines and recycles harmful energy into healing energy,”

says Mantak Chia. Our organs work hard to maintain our homoeostasis so we can thank them with an inner smile. The specific order for the inner smile follows the organs cycle of creation. The inner smile can be practiced at any time and for any duration. Familiarise yourself with the location of all the major organs before the practice to establish a strong mental connection with them. You may feel more in touch with your organs if you place your hands over them as you send your smile as well as visualising them. Feel the grateful response from your organs as they release blockages and receive loving energy. Open your eyes if you choose to make the healing sounds then close them to resume. To clear your negative emotions follow these simple Inner Smile Steps-

1. Begin by closing your eyes and relaxing your whole body. Breath slowly and smoothly, letting go on the exhalation.
2. Smooth facial muscles and focus attention on the third eye.
3. Feel inner joy. Visualising a peaceful scene, a smiling baby or your smiling face may evoke this feeling.
4. Gather this bliss behind your eyes and watch it internally as it travels down your body.
5. Let the smiling energy flow like a sweet stream down your nose to wash over your lips.
6. Raise the corners of your mouth slightly in a sublime inner smile. Simultaneously feel this soften your eyes.
7. Place the tongue behind the teeth to connect the energy circuit for the entire practice.
8. Relax your jaw.
9. Swallow your saliva and feel your throat open and relax as you smile to your voice box. Thank them for giving you the power of balance and speech.
10. Visualise your thymus like a blossoming flower and smile to it with thanks for strong immunity and healing energy.
11. Let the smile radiate to the happiness centre of your heart. Feel your heart soften and fill with red love nectar. Release cruelty, harshness, hastiness, impatience and hurt from the heart on the exhalation. You can also say Haaw to release negativity. Send a smiling love letter to your open heart. Thank it for giving you compassion, kindness, joy and good circulation.
12. Gather the loving energy from the heart and spread it to your lovely lungs. Sense every cell relax as it releases grief and depression, exhaling the sound Sssss. You can also visualise them as glowing white wings carrying you to your higher mission. Swelling with smiling sap let your spongy lungs soak up joy, love and courage. Thank them for oxygenating your body.
13. Smile to your liver as it emanates a forest green hue, releasing grey murky light on the exhalation. Release anger and resentment with the sound Shhh. On the smiling inhalation absorb kindness, forgiveness and acceptance. Thank the liver for its role in assimilation, metabolism and purification.
14. Send pure smiling streams to your stomach, pancreas and spleen. Visualise these organs basking in a golden yellow light as they relax to release worry and anxiety while exhaling the sound Huuuu. Feel faith, fairness and present-minded consciousness saturate this region. Thank the organs for maintaining healthy digestion, immunity and blood sugar levels.
15. Keeping your body relaxed, send the loving smile to the kidneys. Visualise them like deep blue ears, releasing fear and stress from them whilst exhaling the sound Choo. Smile to them as they fill with soothing security, wisdom and calm. Thank them and the adrenals for filtering blood, balancing water and increasing stress resistance. Strong kidneys also give us the willpower to act on our convictions.
16. Smile to your orgasmic sexual area. Fill it with a tender loving energy, appreciating the pleasure and power it gives you. Thank it for producing hormones that nourish the mind and body.
17. To finish smile up your spine, washing the whole body with golden nectar flowing from each vertebra through the nervous system, bone marrow, bones, muscles, skin and hair.
18. The smiling waterfall rises to your crown showering your whole body in smiling ecstasy.
19. Allow the energy to flow back down behind your eyes and pool into your naval.
20. To complete the practice spiral energy around your navel. Men place their palms left over right and spiral clockwise 36 times whilst women place their palms right over left and spiral counter clockwise 36 times. Next reverse the direction and spiral back 24 times. By storing the smiling energy in the navel you will avoid accumulating excess heat in the head or heart.

Mantak Chia also teaches special postures to cleanse each organ.

Smile Infusion
Once we are filled with an inner smile it naturally overflows to others. The smile resonates with outside vibrations and reverberates back to us as a collective smiling wave. This creates an endless exchange of loving energy, invigorating and uplifting us on all levels. To keep this smiling circuit flowing remember to smile as often as possible. Smile to your past, present and future so you may continue on the spiritual path. Send an inner smile to those you love, hate, empathise with and are indifferent towards. Extend it to your house, family, work, community, teachers, well-wishers, country, continent, earth and universe. Send a special smile to the natural world of plants, animals, water bodies, mountains, the sky and planets.
The inner smile is considered a complete, non-sectarian spiritual practice that will benefit everyone. When consistently practiced it can nurture the enlightened awareness that we are all part of the same smiling energy. For world peace may we all share Paramahamsa Yogananda’s prayer to,

“Let my soul smile through my heart and my heart smile through my eyes, that I may scatter rich smiles in sad hearts.”

Wishing you a lifetime of smiles.

Excerpt by Caroline Robertson

http://www.universal-tao.com/article/the_inner_smile.html

Chart of organs transform emotions colours animals element Sounds
Heart Hate, cruelty to love, compassion Red Eagle Fire Haaw
Lungs Grief, depression to joy, courage White Tiger Metal Ssss
Liver Anger, resentment to forgiveness, acceptance Green Deer Wood Shhh
Stomach/ Spleen/ Pancreas Worry, anxiety to faith, fairness Yellow Monkey Earth Huuu
Kidney, Fear Stress to security, calm Deep blue Bear Water Chooo

Day 3 – The hardest thing in the world! An encounter.

Day three, rolled out of bed at 6:35, completed Pranayama, rolled back into bed and went straight back to sleeep! Nice. It’s becoming automatic!

Woke at 10 am to brilliant blue skies, praises to the God and Goddesses! Read up about Dharanaconcentration, gorging in the splendid sunshine. Felt like I had discovered a missing piece of the yogic puzzle, refreshing my sitting practice.

Memories of my previous concentration practice came flooding back. My concentration object – a beautiful stone which my daughter gave to me, a fortuitous discovery from a Welsh beach. Oh the hours spent concentrating on this stone! I know its every detail so intimately you could not imagine. Yet somehow it has slipped from my mind recently. I guess the power of my last mystical experience was such a transforming episode and took such assimilation that it has taken nearly four years to get back into the samadhic saddle to make my next assault on the spiritual mountain peaks.

I feel energised today! I felt a little down last night because I chose to say no to various invitations from friends. This feels more important to me at the moment, to ground myself thoroughly in my practice, to create a strong foundation. I’m sure my friends will understand, yet I cannot help feel bad as I am usually a good friend and know the importance of supporting ones friends when they need it. I feel it is the highest privilege to be able to help a friend in need and normally I am unconditionally giving of my time.

Lately I have felt let down by several friends when we have arranged to do something. It felt very frustrating. One of my beliefs is that if you say you are going to do something with a friend you should do it, and if for some reason you really cannot do what you agreed, then you should make it a priority to let your friend know as soon as possible. To me that’s just common decency. I may be being a bit harsh but I am tired of certain so-called friends continually letting me down and so have decided to cut some individuals out.

Any way enough of the rant, let me tell you about my practise. My asana is going nicely, I practice roughly an hour before noon for about an hour. I will post a list of the sequence. Gradual strengthening is already being felt. Coupled with the pranayama it is a very powerful fitness routine. The bellows breath is the best abdominal exercise I have come across. It takes some getting used to but when the flow kicks in it feels magical. Ouch!My right leg is still a bit sore from my biking fall but today I managed the lotus whilst performing the mountain. So it’s gradually healing. My new problem is my elbow. It got cut up real bad in the fall and was healing well until I did the scorpion on it and now its gone into a very painful blister. I just hope it’s not infected. I have had to cut out the scorpion for now until it heals again.

So why is simply sitting on the ground with your eyes closed the hardest thing in the world? By God its difficult! Don’t believe me? You should try it. It is sooooo hard!

In the past I have always practised meditation lying down and have had amazing results but now I have decided to master sitting asan. The goal is to be able to sit for 3 hours. I have managed 25 mins so far. Today after my Pranayama I went into yoni mudra, a sense withdrawal exercise in which you close all the senses and concentrate on ajna. This feels good. The-Microcosmic-OrbitNext I went into concentration on my stone. This was the first time I’ve done it for ages so was a tad tricky. I then went into a Qi-gong exercise called the microcosmic orbit this is not strictly yoga but I feel it helps to speed up the energetic process considerably and have had excellent results with it in the past. In fact I would go as far as to say that it is the most powerful spiritual/energy exercise I have encountered. It is amazing! Let me tell you about my experiences with it.

Firstly it took weeks to get any results. I practised it a lot. I mean a lot. The process is to visualise a small ball of energy, about half an inch inside your skin, moving from the anus up the back, around the head, down the face to the throat as you breathe in. Then move the energy down from the throat chakra back to the anus as you exhale. This completes one circuit. Mantak Chia suggests starting with nine circuits. Later you can train the circuit to spin continually, unconsciously.

At first you may have trouble visualising this process and so to help you can trace a line around yourself with a finger as you breathe. I found yogic concentration exercises to work  great in combination with the microcosmic orbit as they both help your visualisation skills to develop.

So anyway, after several weeks I started to actually feel the energy rather than just visualising it.  It’s as if the circuit is already there but you need to activate it by first visualising this cosmic loop. It first feels like a weak current moving around your body. After more practice the current gets stronger. I actually started to see it with my inner vision as a light blue electricity looking light moving around a channel which was gradually getting thicker with time. This probably sounds far-fetched to someone who never practised any energy work, but if you have felt these astral energies, you will understand.

This  microcosmic orbit for me was the first piece of a combination of techniques that I started putting together which led to a huge breakthrough. The barefoot doctor tells of a shamanistic exercise called scooping the loop in which the microcosmic orbit is utilised in conjunction with visualising three chakras breathing in unison but separately. This takes a lot of skill. visualising one chakra can be a challenge, to hold three at once whilst spinning the microcosmic orbit around it all takes a lot of practise. It is worth it. The chakras start to come alive. After much practise I then added the Dharana exercise of visualising my stone outside of the orbit whilst breathing the three chakras. This is an incredibly powerful technique.

It takes a lot of energy and time to build up.

One day, about 8 years ago, after deeply feeling the inherent power I was determined to master this technique. It was a sunny day and I spent a full 8 hours lay in Whitworth park continually practising this formidably complex visualisation. I had been abstaining from ejaculating for about a month to build up the required energy levels. I was holding the visualisation strongly, for a long time, but without  major breakthrough.

I went home and decided to give it one more try. I lay on the bed and restarted the technique, after a short time suddenly I was struck by lightning! BOOOM! I  left.

I was transported to what appeared to be the depths of space.

I seemed to be stood on a floating rock in front of a gigantic field of energy. This wasn’t a visualisation or a hallucination I was actually there. Though the experience was somehow more real than our usual reality.

I could physically feel the pulsating energy’s heat combined with some sort of solar wind on my skin. The heat was immense. I was extremely terrified. I thought I was going to catch on fire as the heat was so strong. I suddenly realised how people spontaneously and mysteriously combust.

I felt I was too near to the huge light. The light itself, when I say huge, probably the biggest thing we can imagine is our earth or sun, a planetary scale. This Energy/ Light was hundreds of times the size of our sun. It was staggeringly colossal! Imagine the heat of being right close to our sun but it was a different type of heat, more electrical, of a cool blue colour but still Hot. I sensed it was sentient and it was sensing me.

As quickly as I was there, I was back on the bed.

This was my first mystical experience.

Wow!

I didn’t want another.

I was in shock. Serious shock.

I tried to explain what had occurred to my then girlfriend, and later some of my friends. She later put it down to me opening my kundalini. I guess this was the outer edges of her model. How could anyone realise the power of that experience unless they had under gone a similar occurrence.

This was not Kundalini.

Before this happened to me, if someone would have tried to explain this as happening to them I would probably thought they were crazy or exaggerating. After this experience I didn’t practice any yoga or energy work for over a year. I was petrified!

After a lot of assimilation to my new model of the universe, I began again. It was not to be my last encounter with this incredible light.

23-09-2010

Deep abdominal breath

Inhalation/Exhalation Extension

Easy breath

Bhastrika

Total sit time

6:00 am

X7

20/20 15/15 12/12

5in 5h 10ex x3 5–10–10×4

30 30 30 30 30

5 min

12 noon

X7

15/15×2 17/17×2

5- 10-10 x7

40 20 30 30 30

13 min

6:00 pm

X7

17/17×2 15/15×2

5-10-10×7

25 30 30 35

13 min

12 mid

X9

17/17×5

5-10-10×7

30 30 30 30 30

18 min

24-09-10

6:00 am

X10

20/20 20/17 17/17×3

5-10-10×7

35 35 30 30

20 min

12 noon

X12

25/25 30/30 25/25 20/30 25/25

5-10-10×7

35 40 30 30

25 min

6:00 pm

X20

25/25 20/20 35/35 30/30 25/25

5-20-10×7

30 35 30 25

22 min

12 mid

X20

30/30 40/20 25/25 20/20 20/20

5-10-10×7

40 35 30 30

21 min

25-09-10

6 am

X20

40/45 30/30 25/25 20/20 20/20

5-15-10×8

40 35 30

22 min

12 noon

x25

45/45 35/35 30/30 25/25 20/20 20/20

5-10-10×8

60 30 30

22min

6 pm

12 mid

Pranayama times table

A new beginning!


A different view

Opened

Today, is the autumnal equinox and the perfect opportunity for me to start my 6 month yoga experiment.

This is my first attempt at blogging, so please be gentle with me, I am hoping to learn as I proceed.

My magical intention is to buckle down to a strict Kriya yoga regime for at least 6 months ,whilst communicating my experiences, to you, here, now.

For reasons thus;

  • I have experienced some dazzlingly amazing things through the practice of Kriya Yoga and I am desirous of furthering my understanding, knowledge and wisdom.
  • Hopefully my blogging will go hand in hand with the practice and encourage me if the going starts to get tough. I am much less likely to throw in the towel if I believe I will be publicly shamed for giving up.
  • I shall be anally posting my pranayama times on an accompaning page so I can chart and look back on my progress with a proud, yet humble smile 🙂 This process should also provide a mental ‘carrot’.
  • I wish to share my findings with fellow seekers and hope we may both learn something  from this experiment. If what I am attempting can help a single soul than I shall be a happy bunny.
  • I am desirous to firstly find, then develop, my ‘voice,’ through the process of blogging. I guess one fast way to learn how to swim is to jump right in.

SPLASSSH!

  • Lastly, to make some new quality friendships on this journey and acquiant like-minded spiritual souls.

At the age of seventeen I first read Carlos Castenada‘s seminal work, “The Teachings of Don Juan: A Yaqui Way of Knowledge.” This wonderful book opened my mind to a new view of the universe.

I first got into yoga about 10 years ago when my then girlfriend began studying teacher training with the British wheel of yoga.

The main man

Sri Yukteswar

I read a lot of yoga books, including “The autobiography of a yogi” by Parahamsa Yogananda, which struck a chord with me and gave me hope at a time when my Dad was in hospital and I was in need of new direction. This book is simply stunning. The authors Guru is Sri Yukteswar, My personal hero.

This book led me to “The spiritual science of Kriya yoga” by Goswami Kriyananda which felt right for me and I began to practise more seriously. I spent 6 months simply following warm ups and stretches whilst also practising Tratak, a process for purifying the third eye. I continued gradual learning and worked my way through the different yoga asans, (postures) until I was starting to get the feel for them.

I progressed into the four inner limbs of yoga after assimilating yama and niyama into my understanding. Sense withdrawal, concentration, meditation and eventually Samadhi I read about and absorbed.

Learning and knowing are two very different things. One can study every possible written work but without actual experience one merely believes rather than knows.

A person born in a landlocked country may hear about the sea from others or read about it in a book, but until they actually experience an ocean for themselves, they have not yet acquired the knowledge and experience of which such an encounter engenders. I hunger for such knowledge.

I  also became interested inand influenced by Taoism and found the Tao Te Ching to be an invaluable source of ageless wisdom.

Mantak Chia’s soft QiGong exercises also resonated with me and I regularly practised the micro cosmic orbit and the five organ inner smile.

Shamanism sang its sacred song to me by way of a close friend from Peru and I have been lucky enough to experience genuine Ayahuasca rituals.

I began combining elements from Kriya Yoga, Qigong  shamanism and other influences in what felt like a natural way.

Other major influences have come from Carlos Castaneda, Robert Anton Wilson, Terence McKenna, Dr Timothy Leary, Bob Marley and the Wailers, Aldous Huxley, Grant Morrison, James Joyce, David Deida, George Orwell, Milton Erickson, Aleister Crowley, Ken Wilbur, Carl Jung, Robert Munroe and Hemi-sync, Tibetan Bon Po , Richard Bandler, John Grinder, Hayao Miyazaki, Patrick Holford, Eckhart Tolle and more, I shall add as I recall..

Swami Kriyananda

Swami Kriyananda

In my 30th year I experienced my first real breakthrough and had a profound mystical encounter. This experience changed me on a deep level. It also shocked and awed me. I did not practise for about a year as I struggled to assimilate this tremendous experience. I eventually continued until in my 33rd year I achieved another major discovery even more powerful than the first. This experience took even more assimilation time and eventually I began to work seriously on myself, clearing out old habits, addictions and negative influences.

I quit smoking after 17 years. I struggled to quit nicotine for a long time and have now successfully quit smoking completely since January 2010. I have stopped all alcohol for 6 months now. For the past 3 months I have cut sugar out of my diet.

I am now at a place where I feel I am ready, and hope you may join me, for the next attempt at a climb on the highest peak known to mankind – God consciousness.