Thursday, August 25, 2011

The danger of "simple" meditation

"Meditation is easy, just sit down, fold your legs, empty your mind, and you will become detached from yourself, and you will be in a meditative mode".  This is more or less the assertion I read from browsing a website calling itself, again more or less, "simple meditation" or "meditation made easy".  And there is a video of a guru, a supposedly well-known Tibetan Buddhist, claiming the various benefits of meditation.  (In order to avoid unnecessary debates, I won't mention names here: this post is for the purpose of learning rather than a demonstration of good or bad practice - a disclaimer of mine in whatever sense of the word).

In deeper level of meditation, one truly needs to simply shut off one's mind. That would however means one has already achieved the stage of high-concentration of chi as well as an advanced stage of chi balance. In the initial stage, when one's chi is weak, a simple shut off one's mind can at best only calm down one's Shi Shen (識神), the after-birth (后天) essence. In trigram/Can Tong Qi 《參同契》 lingo, in this kind of "simple" meditation, one is only, incorrectly, trying to manage the broken middle line of the trigram Kan (坎) - as explained in a previous post, this broken line is to be exchanged with the solid middle line of trigram (離) in a proper Taoist meditative practice.

In the lingo of modern psychology, meditation without chi activation can only involve one's consciousness instead of Unconscious. If one's Unconscious energy is not released, channeled, and consolidated in one's meditation practice, it will always come back to haunt on us, as Carl Jung would have said, in the least expected time. In other words, it can give the practitioner a false belief of having gain the upper hand towards one's psyche which will just end up in over-burdening one's Unconscious, which is likely lead to neurosis some day. This is danger number one.

The above danger may combine with or may act separately from the next danger: Magnification of one's bodily sensation, and/or having hallucinatory effect. Such effects are caused by lack of bodily stimulation. In chi-meditation, one's focus will be on one's chi, its level, its direction of flow, generally speaking its management. Such focus can avoid the danger of under stimulation. Having said that, bad chi-management can indeed lead to chi-related problems, but that will be another issue, another topic for another time.

How to tackle the problem, assuming that one doesn't yet have an understanding of chi generation but will like to try some meditation to see whether it is one's cup of tea? The best way to do is to do some simple physical exercises before one's mediation, so that some chi can be generated (though not an efficient way). And the best method is to do some walking. Together with doing pre-meditation walking, one can also listen to some light music during meditation.  In this way, one's mind can have something to focus on during meditation. If one finds oneself enjoy the meditative process, one can start doing some serious chi-mediation.


  1. Hi Paul, I read you here often :) ...You are so in-depth and masterly in your posts, there is a lot to learn reading them. My understanding on these topics is rather rudimentary, but I can relate to many concepts. I am certain you are a wonderful teacher to many people!

  2. Thanks again for your appreciation. Writing these posts actually is also my own learning process. I raise issues and try to answer them as best as I can, even if I don't know all the answers, I won't evade the question.

    And of course I want to present them in a most interesting way too... Yes, I do coach some of my friends and relations on these stuffs. They do get good mind/body benefits....I mean only those who continue their practice. Some will politely tell me that they're just too busy to continue...For the well-being of my mind/body, I will heartily believe in them (or at least do my fair share of "suspension of disbelief")....:):)


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