By Tao practices I mean practices having their roots in Taoism, these include Taoist meditation (Nei Dan 内丹) and Tai-chi. In my previous posts I discussed the subject matter "philosophically" (with all due understanding that it differs from what is defined in our University's philosophy department). In this post, I shall attempt to look at the issue of Nature or being natural in the light of actual practices.
Development of the human body has always be defined by its sexual development in Chinese culture. In classical Chinese Medical text SuWen (素問：上古天真论）， the term "Nature's Energy" (天癸) was used. And it says that Male at age 16 (2x8 - 2 cycles, similarly defined thereafter), Female at age 14 (2x7), their NE are full and can start reproduction. After that their NE will decline. And Male at age 56 (7x8) and Female at age 49 (7x7), their NE suffer significant decline and started losing their reproduction capability. And after cycle 8, there really no more hope: (天癸尽： the end of NE).
The practice of Taoist meditation of Neidan is to reverse this process. According to classic Taoist Neidan texts, Male who started their practice before the age of 16, can do away with microcosmic circulation (needless to say, a good guidance and an appropriate learning aptitude are both necessary conditions). The objective of microcosmic circulation is to rebuild one's NE to the full level of age 16 (for Male: most if not Taoist texts are male-biased in their expositions). In Taoist terminology, it is called "building the foundation" (筑基). A foundation for what? For moving further back. Symbolically speaking, one should be trained back to the stage when one is an embryo (as a matter of fact "building the foundation" is also symbolic). In Neidan this refers to deep meditative practice of developing the "Embryo" (yes, they literally used the term) for eventual OBE, and continue its existence after physical death!
Are the above purely psychological analysis and phenomenon? Chinese are by nature very pragmatic. One can't convince him (or her) without any perceived "physical" benefits (actual or otherwise). I'm referring to actual (or perceived to be actual) changes in one's body and mind. So much so, a practitioner can feel (and believe) that he or she is moving backwards towards age 16 or age 14. Isn't it a great promise? I shall discuss it further in further posts. Stay tuned!