Thursday, August 6, 2015

The theory of touch in meditative practice

Touch has always a way between trusting partners to express their emotions and passions. And in such a way that the partners are enlivened and energized. In chi-kung's terminology it is called chi activation or chi-filled. It can range from simple shaking hands to sexual intercourse. And within this range of touch, schools of internal arts, mostly meditative, founded their practices upon. The most prominent trend is Tantric Yoga.

Recently I came across a book written by Vidya, a lady master of the art of Tibetan Pulsing Yoga rested upon touch. The practice is situated at a point between the spectrum of shaking hands to sexual intercourse.  Vidya was said to be the only fully-trained Chinese student of late founding master Dheeraj. Most of book are about theoretical background, world view and imaginations of the practice. The part that I am most interested in is the techniques chapter. The basic technique of Pulsing Yoga as shown was two (or two plus) chi-points in our body created through touch and executed by or between trusting partner(s). Trust is needed because certain parts of our body are not supposed to be touched by others in our daily lives.

A cursory browse of the web reviewed that the touching practice is more "extensive" in the West than in the East (Taiwan). I am when I compared those in the book and what are reviewed in my photo search. Quite understandably, Chinese mentality is more aversive to physical touch by "strangers" than Westerners, some of whom have a cultural/social practice to embrace and cheek-kiss new acquaintance in the street. On the other hand, some Chinese women even shied away from shaking hands with strangers in public.

I am not an expert in tantric yoga, therefore I am not familiar with the many practices that lied between the spectrum of physical touch. The question I want to raise is "How do Chinese practices make use of the power of touch, if at all?" Just forget about the esoteric Taoist practice with a tantric-feel (that incidentally has been condemned by mainstream lineages), there are indeed ways to make use of touch. I use two examples:
  1. In tai chi pushing hands, a teacher makes use of the touch of the arm to listen to and to "transmit" (experientially speaking) chi to his student's body. In close-door inner circle study, some teachers also push against the body of a student for such chi listening and activation. Close door meaning for trusting master-student relationship.
  2. In high-level classic Taoist meditation (also referenced in "Taoist Yoga" translated by Charles Luk), a meditator has to use the "services" of helper who rub the spinal cord of the meditator to facilitate superior (or big) elixir cultivation (大葯).
Last but not least, in teaching zhan zhuang, the simple act of touching certain points in the arm and body of a student by an informed teacher can greatly accelerate the progress of a student. This technique has been documented by Zhuang JingKe (a disciple of Master Wang Xiangzai). It was reported that Master Wang was an expert in touch-to-generate-chi.

Tibetan Pulsing Yoga

3 comments:

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