Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Keeping up Your Energy Levels: Sleeping Patterns and Your Liver Qi



Those of you familiar with traditional Chinese medicine may be aware that each of the organs of the body is assigned a 2 hour period in the 24 hour clock, during which time that particular organ is supposed to be functioning at its optimal level.
For the liver this time is sometimes placed as 11pm-1am, or sometimes 1am-3am. One of the functions of the liver is to detoxify poisons that have built up in the body and the blood stream, and I have heard it recommended (again in TCM circles) that in order to help your liver de-toxify your body and replennish your qi levels it is good to regularly be in bed and sleeping between 11pm and 1am.
As a habitual late night sleeper I have certainly found that getting to bed by 11pm at least once every three days does have a really tangible and positive effect upon my qi levels, and so I strongly recommend it to other people. Simply getting 7 or 8 hours sleep regularly (eg from 1am to 8 or 9am) does not have the same effect for me as getting to be that bit earlier, so that i am lying down and resting as my liver moves into its optimum functioning mode.
So, for this reason, if you are a habitual nightbird like me I recommend getting to bed in good time at least once every three days, for the sake of your overall health and qi!
Finally, here is a digram of the internal organs together with their respective times. If you would like to view an interactive version of this diagram, which details the emotions connected with each of the organs, please click HERE.




© Toby Ouvry 2011, you are welcome to use or share this article, but please cite Toby as the source and include reference to his website www.tobyouvry.com


Friday, November 25, 2011

Our Anxiety in the Face of Inner Space and Stillness


Transcribed from a five minute talk that I gave at the end of a Qi gong meditation class last week (23.11.11), enjoy!

I just want to say one or two things before we end. I mentioned whilst guiding the meditation that one thing that you may become aware of over time is that our mind resists inner space and stillness. If you ask people “Do you want inner peace?” they’ll generally say “Yes, yes, I want inner peace!” but deeper down actually they don’t. To be able to open to inner space and allow it to change you over time takes a lot of courage. This is a major reason why although meditation is free and it has been practiced for millennia as a way of developing mental peace, relatively few people will do it. This is because from the perspective of the ego, the ego has what you might call an existential fear of inner space. Part of the reason why we like to keep ourselves busy all the time, and when we are not doing anything physically our mind likes to think all the time is because we feel as if we have to keep affirming our existence, otherwise we feel like we are going to disappear! It is like a moment to moment fear of death, of dying. Essentially in this context dying means to have no future, becoming nothing. We feel like “If I am not doing something physical then I need to imagine myself doing something physical, because I still want to exist, and if I stop thinking or doing, then I will stop existing”.

This is a little bit of meditational psychology; it is the way in which our mind thinks, but unless we have examined it closely, for most of us this will be a subconscious pattern. And we need to understand that it is natural to have this type of anxiety (the anxiety of becoming non-existent), and simply having this anxiety is not a problem, it is existential anxiety, the natural tension that arises from being alive and wanting to stay that way. So, this in itself is not a problem, what is a problem is if you are not dealing with that anxiety well, if you are repressing it. A lot of psychological pathologies arise from the repression of this natural anxiety which then becomes pathological anxiety, compulsive doing, and compulsive thinking, compulsive everything!

So the natural anxiety of being alive will always be there, even if you continue to meditate. With a bit of practice in meditation you will start to find you can find a sense of inner space and stillness within yourself, but then it becomes an act of courage to keep opening to that space (which to the ego appears to be a type of death, a type of non-existence) and allowing it to inform your experience of life.

So I just thought I would throw that little thought in at the end of our meditation because it is common to find people having a great initial experience of inner space and stillness in their meditation, but then over time drifting away from their practice and this is one of the main reasons. It is not just because we are logistically busy all the time, although life these days is demanding upon our time and energy (although show me a time in history when life has not been such!), it is because our existential anxiety causes our ego to instinctively veer away from inner space and stillness and find excuses not to meditate. Our ego is actually happy to put up with a lot of stress and a lot of pain/problems, fear and anxiety because all of those things are affirming its existence, you know what I mean? Ego is not a bad thing, but the ego has a lot of fears that aren’t really founded upon anything wise and concrete, so it takes a bit of time for it to learn to trust that empty space, that stillness. So we need to keep if you like holding our ego’s hand and saying “Come on, come on, it is not going to be so bad, just relax and let go” like this!

So this is just and aspect of meditation practice that everyone needs to be aware of if you want to sustain your practice, because your mind and ego will try and find a lot of ways to duck out in order to avoid the anxiety of confronting empty space and stillness.

© Toby Ouvry 2011, you are welcome to use or share this article, but please cite Toby as the source and include reference to his website www.tobyouvry.com

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

"Water Element Landscape" Soul Portrait Plus Artists Notes by Toby




This is the first of a series of works based around the Chinese five elements (these being earth, wood, fire metal and water). In it you can see a turtle (the power animal associated with the water element voyaging through the deep ocean toward a gentle but powerful water-element energy vortex.
In the distance above the water you can see a mountain and skyscape.

This is a piece of art that you can look at, enter into and meditate with in order to help balance your own water element and emotional being. In particular the water element energy in this picture can help induce balance and spontaneity to your mental processes, and to induce an emotional experience of calmness, spaciousness and flow.

For an overview of meditation on the five elements see Toby’s article“Meditating on the Five Chinese Elements as a Method of Achieving Balance and Harmony Through Dependent Relationship”.


This artwork is currently for sale, for enquiries please contact Toby on this email: info@tobyouvry.com


Image and text © Toby Ouvry, please do not reproduce without permission.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

A Personal Reflection on How Meditation Develops Your Inner Vision and Ability to Work With Energy

Hi Everyone,

Back in 2001 when I left my life as a Buddhist Monk part of the reason was that I wanted to return to a life as an actively working artist expressing his inspiration in paintings and sculpture. As I had meditated during the 1990’s I had touched the inner formless spaces that you find in deep meditation practice, but I had also found that, from these deep formless spaces a lot of inner visions started to emerge quite spontaneously, and that they often really demanded to be expressed.
Since then I have developed a method of combining my meditation and artistic practice where I will meditate on a particular topic or subject for a while in order to receive visual and sensual impressions of its inner nature, and then I will create an art piece based around what I have seen.
In order to give an example of this, at the top of this article you can see a working sketch that I have done for an artwork that embodies the energy of The Tao, Yin-Yang and the five Chinese elements of earth, wood, metal and fire. Here is a brief description of the inner landscape from which this image arose. You can do it yourself if you like, the basic images are simple, and there is plenty of room for creative imagination and to really make the inner landscape your own:

The Asian Tree and the Yin-Yang courtyard.
Before meditating set your intention to travel, within the reality of your creative imagination, to an inner landscape that embodies the spiritual energy of the Tao, Yin-Yang and five elements.
Spend a short while relaxing, focusing on your breathing and stilling your sense of time, space and energy.
After a while you sense yourself within what you intuitively sense is an Asian landscape, in front of you is your “Asian tree”, a tree embodying that embodies the energy of Asian spirituality and that you have a particular inner connection to. Spend a while seeing, feeling and sensing the landscape and the tree; the texture of the bark, the colour of the leaves, the time of day and so forth...
To one side of you in your landscape you see an ancient courtyard. Upon its old wooden doors is inscribed a yin yang symbol.
Passing through the doors to the interior of the courtyard you sense yourself entering into a state of deep peace. The roof of the courtyard is open to the sky. In the centre of the courtyard is a yin-yang symbol made of living light. The light part of the symbol is fed by a stream of bright white star light that comes down from the sky. The dark part of the symbol is fed by a stream of dark light rising from the depths of the earth. Within the courtyard are many beautiful ancient objects, such as bonsai trees, crystals and gemstones. In particular there are sculptures of four creatures:
  • A dragon, embodying the energy of the wood element, of spring, air and morning
  • A phoenix embodying the energy of the fire element, of summer and the noonday sun
  • A tiger embodying the energy of the metal element, of autumn and evening
  • A turtle embodying the energy of the water element, of winter and of night time. 
Each of these statues, although static seems to be alive and radiates its elemental energy in the form of colour. These colours gather around the central yin-yang symbol, flowing around it in an ever changing flow of radiant elemental light.

Deep within the earth beneath the yin-yang symbol is a cauldron, which embodies the earth element and is the source from which the other four elements arise.
Simply sit and relax in this beautiful peaceful space, and as you do so feel the yin-yang and elemental balance within your body mind come back into balance. As your body-mind comes into balance, feel your inner being becoming still and spacious like a deep lake.

Thanks for reading,
Yours in the spirit of the rich landscape of the imagination,

Toby

PS: You can see more of my artwork in the most recent post on my Soul Portrait site:

PPS: If you are not familiar with the 5 elements and want a bit more information, you can find more in my past article on my Qi gong blog:
Similarly, you can also find a previous Yin-Yang meditation there:



Wednesday, March 30, 2011

"Starbathing"

www.tobyouvry.com/soulportraits

Working with and absorbing stellar or cosmic qi is something that is increasingly emphasized as one becomes more advanced along many of the diverse paths of Qi Gong. But there is no reason why you can't start working with it now and enjoy the benefits using the very simple method detailed below. We have recently moved to a house with a roof garden, and so I am enjoying it very much. As well as having the energetic benefits of absorbing star qi, it also helps make the mind very big, spacious and light.

The technique:
Find an appropriate place to lie down at night, under an open sky.
Open your eyes and stare up at the starry sky for a while. Take in the vast expanse of the sky, empty your mind and enjoy the twinkling lights of the stars.
After a while close your eyes and imagine starry light flowing down from the stars and from the night sky into all the cells of your body.
In particular feel three focus points of starry energy and light building in the center of your brain, the center of your chest and the central area of your lower abdomen.
Take your time, finish when ready.
Repeat three times a week, or as often as desired!

© Toby Ouvry 2011, you are welcome to use this article, but you must seek Toby's permission first. Contact info@tobyouvry.com

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Four Types of Qi That We Can Attune to and Harness For Self and Planetary Healing

Generally when we talk about “qi”  or energy in qi gong it can be quite generic, it is just the energy that flows through life and nature.
We can begin to look at specific types and manifestations of qi by observing landscape, and the way in which it is composed of  the four elements; earth (body of the planet, mountains, tress etc), water(lakes, rivers, oceans), air(sky) and fire (sun and stars).
In each of these four elements qi manifests in a particular way, and has particular powers and characteristics that we can learn to attune to and consciously utilize for healing and energizing purposes.
Below is a meditation for attuning to qi within the four elements in landscape. It is one of the first meditations that I wrote after I left Buddhist monkhood and went back into secular life back in 2001. Once you are familiar with the basic process you can easily use it to attune to the qi within any landscape. Enjoy!
(Note: The four elements used in this article earth, air, fire water is based around the four observable elements in nature. This is different from (but closely related to) the system of five elements that you find in Qi gong philosophy; earth, wood, fire, metal, water).

Mandala and Four Elements Meditation

Find a comfortable position, either seated or lying down, with a straight back.
Spend a minute or so focusing on the breathing and bringing your attention inward.

Bring to mind now a beautiful natural setting that you may be familiar with and love, one that when you think of it makes you feel very relaxed and peaceful and that takes you away from the trials of your daily life. This place should be a landscape that includes both land and a water element, above you you feel the energy of the sun, moon and stars.
(note: If you are able to actually go out physically to such a landscape to do the meditation, then this is great).

Wherever you choose to see yourself, see yourself sitting or lying comfortably on the ground of this place of inner retreat, surrounded by bright sunlight, and cooling shade, as refreshing breezes caress your body.
Feel your feet on the earth, the flowers and wonderful vegetation and water features around you, the only sounds that you hear come from nature.

Take the time now to attune yourself to the your spiritual being  that lies within you, see this as a light and feeling of love at your heart.
Feel your consciousness expanding into the elements of nature surrounding you. As you breathe in and out you can feel your mind blending and merging with the environment around you.
Attune yourself to the earth and rocks, and feel this earth energy moving up through your feet as beautiful golden green light. Feel this light pervading your whole physical body now, clearing and balancing the earth element within you. See it going through your organs, flesh and bones, clearing and balancing their energies  within you. Feel your earth element merging with the harmony of the natural earth element around you.
See the water element arising from the water near you as a clear blue light. See this light surrounding you and entering into the water element in the cells of your own body. See it clearing all of the imbalance and disharmony in your blood, fluids and watery elements of your physical body. See and feel your water element coming into harmony and balance with the water element of nature, with the rivers, lakes and oceans of the planet.
Feel and see the light and fresh air around you now moving into your physical body, fell it move through your lungs and out thru your other organs, thru your arms and hands, thru your legs and feet, thru your neck and head. Feel the pure light and energy of the air element moving into all the spaces in your body, clearing out and balancing your own air element. Feel the air element within you coming into line with the air element within nature, and with the sky.

Feel the heat and golden light of the sun now surrounding you and caressing you. Feel this light moving into your system now, clearing and purifying the fire element within your body. See and feel the regulation and distribution of your heat energy being cleared by this beautiful golden light and heat from the Sun. Feel your fire element now coming one with the fire element of nature.

Now feel the energies of Mother Earth Herself now coming up through your feet chakras into your heart, feel her love for you as one of her children. Feel her heart and yours now coming into harmony and merging as one at your heart. Take this feeling of love and oneness with the Earth Mother as your final object of meditation.

When you feel ready, become fully aware of your physical body and surroundings, and when you are ready, open your eyes.

© Toby Ouvry 2011. You are welcome to use this article, but you must seek Toby’s permission first! Contact info@tobyouvry.com

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Meditations for Spring Time and the Beginning of the Chinese New Year of the Rabbit

Hi Everyone,
I’m off to Thailand for a week, so this will be my last post for ten days or so. Whilst in Thailand I intend amongst other things, to spend a healthy amount of time simply sitting and attuning to the energies of nature, of the landscape and of the sea.

The turn to February sees the energy of spring starting to manifest in the northern hemisphere. Here are two simple meditations with images that you can work with at this time in the year to attune to the energies of spring and of new beginnings.

The first draws upon traditional Chinese associations of the wood element. The second draws upon traditional images of the Goddess/divine feminine and the child self.

1. Working with the wood element to heal and energize of physical and energy body, mind and emotions:

In Taoist and Qi gong philosophy the season of spring corresponds to the wood element. Spring sees a re-awakening of the green world and an exponential expansion in the growth of trees and plants. Here are some of the qualities and correspondences of the wood element energy:

Wood element healing colour: Green
Direction: Energy rising upward from the Earth
Direction: East
Actions: Countenance or good posture
Bodily organ: Yin organ – Liver, Yang organ – Gall bladder
Emotions: Positive - Kindness, negative - anger/resentment
Mental Quality: Sensitivity (Integrate vision of Child and goddess into this section)
Senses: Vision/sight

Brief meditation on the wood element:

• Sit facing east, imagine a fresh spring breeze blowing from the east, refreshing your mind and body.

• Feel down into the earth beneath you. Sense a vast reservoir of light and energy in the centre of the earth. Sense the colour of this light as gold, white and green. Now see it rising up and filling your body through your feet. Sense this green and gold energy surrounding and infusing your liver and gall bladder. Feel any trapped anger and resentment being stored in these organs being released. Feel the organs being cleansed by the light, and being filled with the energy of kindness and sensitivity.

• Now feel the energy of kindness and sensitivity spreading out into your whole body. In particular feel it going into your eyes and eye sockets, refreshing the power of your inner and outer vision

• Feel the green and gold earth energy in your whole body, breathe it in and out of your physical cells for a few breaths, and then just relax in stillness for a while.

2. Two further images of spring: The Virgin Goddess and the child

The Goddess or divine feminine in her youthful or virgin aspect is a traditional image symbolizing new birth and spring.

The child, or new human life is another image strongly associated with spring, as childhood is when we are in the “spring” of our life.

Meditation images for the Virgin Goddess and the child within

• See yourself in your inner vision sitting in spring landscape (or sit in one physically if you can!). Quietly and intuitively feel yourself attuning to the energy of the season

• A beautiful young maiden approaches you, she is the virgin goddess, the goddess of spring. As she stands before you, three rays of light radiate from her

• Light radiates from her brow to filling your mind, brain and head with the energy and light of clarity

• Light radiates from hear throat to your throat, filling your speech with kindness

• Light radiates from her heart to your heart, filling it with the light of positive empathy, gladness and joy

• You notice that the Goddess is holding a newborn baby in her arms. She offers you the baby. Take it your arms, as you hold it, meditate on the seeds of new life, ideas and projects that you can feel beginning to germinate and grow within your being.

• A young child comes to join you and the Goddess. It is your own inner child. See how s/he appears to you. How easily are you able to relate to her? Try and feel the natural joy and playfulness of your child self as you connect to the child appearing to your imagination.

3. Meditating on the rabbit as a power animal

Because it is the lunar new year of the rabbit, February/March 2011 is also a good time to meditate with the Rabbit as a power animal. Here is a simple way to integrate it into the second Goddess and child meditation above:

• Within your spring landscape see the rabbit (could be one or many) appearing. For a while s/he sits and hops gently around the feet of the Goddess, examining you curiously. After a while (in its time not yours) the rabbit approaches you, allowing you to stroke it, perhaps hold it. Feel your mind and energy connecting to the rabbit and commune for a while in silence. What happens or what you see and experience at this time arises from your communion with the spirit of the rabbit.

Thanks for reading!
Yours in the spirit of Spring,
Toby

PS: On February 22nd and March first I will be leading two classes entitled “Landscapes Of The Mind: Finding Inner Power and Balance In Your Life Through Meditation on Wild Nature And Landscape” all are welcome, if you are not in Singapore the classes are available for purchase as recordings.

Article © Toby Ouvry 2011. You are welcome to use it, but you must seek Toby’s permission first. Contact info@tobyouvry.com

Friday, January 28, 2011

Meditating on the Five Chinese Elements as a Method Achieving Harmony and Balance Through Dependent Relationship

Hi Everyone!

In general meditations on dependent-relationship are very good for developing insight into the way that everything in our life is inter-related. It shows you that if one area of your life is out of balance, then that will affect other parts of your life detrimentally. Similarly, if you focus on getting one imbalanced area of your life back into balance and harmony, then that will affect pretty much all other areas of your life in a positive way too.
One cycle of dependent relationship that I have been enjoying working with recently, both by myself and with students is the Chinese five element cycle, specifically as it relates to our mental and emotional qualities. Here is a brief summary of the five elements, together with their mental and emotional characteristics (emotional section includes emotion when balanced, and the emotions when imbalanced:

EARTH ELEMENT/SEASONS: Balanced mental quality: Clarity, Emotions: Empathy/Anxiety

WOOD ELEMENT /SPRING: Balanced mental quality: Sensitivity, Emotions: Kindness/Anger

FIRE ELEMENT /SUMMER: Balanced mental quality: Willpower/Creativity, Emotions: Hate/Joy

METAL ELEMENT/AULTUMN: Balanced mental quality: Intuition, Emotions: Courage/Grief

WATER ELEMENT/WINTER: Balanced mental quality: Spontaneity, Emotions: Calmness/Fear

So, the point about these five sets of elements and their qualities is that they are all in relationship. For example if you are able to generate mental clarity and appropriate empathy (earth element), then you with then be able to generate appropriate and balanced kindness to yourself and others (wood element emotion), which in turn leads to the experience of joy (fire element emotion). If you read through the list in a contemplative state of mind you will start to develop your own insights into how you can make emotional and mental adjustments in your own life to bring your own “elemental cycle” of emotional and mental dependent relationship into greater harmony and balance.

An example of a five element meditation on dependent-relationship:

Here is an example of one meditation on dependent relationship that I led in class last week
Stage 1: Sitting comfortably, generate an appropriate feeling of empathy (wood element emotion) toward your body and mind. Appropriate empathy means being in touch with the authentic feelings and emotions of your body-mind, without allowing your self-sense to get overwhelmed by them.

If you generate authentic empathy, this will give you a mental sense of clarity (earth element mind) regarding how your body-mind really feels.

Stage 2: If you have mental clarity, you will then be able to extend appropriate and balanced kindness (wood element emotion) toward your body-mind, which in turn will enable them (your body-mind) and you to feel joy (fire element emotion).

Stage 3: With the feeling of joy in your body-mind, and a sense of them both co-operating with you, rather than working against you, it will be quite easy to develop balanced willpower and creativity (fire element mind).

Stage 4: With your willpower working well and in an harmonious way, courage (metal element emotion) will be relatively easy to find within yourself. You will feel in control of your body-mind, and so it will be relatively easy to find that still centre within you where your intuition (metal element mind) resides.

Stage 5: With your intuition and courage working well it will be easy to find a sense of calm within (water element emotion), as well as to be natural and spontaneous (water mind).

Stage 6: Being calm and spontaneous further enhances our earth element qualities of appropriate empathy and clarity, and we find ourself back to the beginning the cycle once more!

So, this is one example of meditating with the mental and emotional qualities of the five elements, as I said above, if you read thought the list of elemental qualities in a contemplative way, personal insights into how these emotional and mental qualities are playing out on your own life will start to flow...
Thanks for reading!

Yours in the spirit of the harmonious five elements,

Toby

© Toby Ouvry 2011. You are welcome to use this article, but you must seek Toby’s permission first. Contact info@tobyouvry.com

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

A Working Defninition of Taoist Meditation

Hi Everyone,
Yesterday I started a series of three classes on the Tao and yin/yang, here is one of the basic principles that we are working with:
One way Taoist meditation could be defined as being focused on finding the balance between polarized, opposing forces. These forces can be categorized as either

- Yin – Feminine, receptive
- Or Yang – Active, dynamic

One point of interest here is that a person or thing is not fixed in their yin or yang nature. Something is always yin or yang IN RELATION TO something else.
For example: I may be a yin, quiet, introverted person in relation to my crazy, party animal brother, but I may relatively speaking be a yang, sociable talkative person in relation to my solitude-loving sister.
Life is always changing, the point of balance in our life is always changing, the challenge of meditating with the Tao is to be aware of the continuous flux, and make appropriate adjustments in your consciousness and action to “stay in the Tao”, or keep in balance.
For example: In the morning I may be behind in my work, so I have to focus on being very active and dynamic before lunch. After lunch I may have caught up on my work, but my body is tired, so I need to slow down, rest and recuperate.
From this definition we can understand that Taoist meditation (and I think we could expand that to meditation in general) is not an entirely passive activity, but a way of coming back into balance, coming back into the middle, and avoiding the negative extremes of either yin or yang.

A Practical Question for daily practice:
A basic question that we need to ask ourselves is “Where is my optimal point of balance right now, and what actions can I take to reconnect to that balance to the greatest degree possible?”
Try asking yourself this question once in the morning, once in the afternoon and once in the evenining for a week. see where it takes you….

Yours in the spirit of the Tao,
Toby

© Toby Ouvry 2011, you are welcome to use this article, but you must seek Toby’s permission first. Contact info@tobyouvry.com

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Hi Everyone!
Over the next few weeks, starting on the 11th January, I will be doing a series of meditation classes entitled “Finding Your Outer Balance, Inner Harmony and Spiritual Centre Through Meditation on the Tao, Yin Yang and the Five Elements” . Really it is a set of classes looking at some of the spiritual and psychological underpinnings of Taoism and Qi gong, and so I will be posting articles relating to it on this Qi gong blog, rather than my meditation blog that I post most of my meditation material on.

The Tao is often referred to in classical sources such as the Tao Te Ching as “the Great Mother”. This is often taken to mean that the Tao is a path based around a philosophy that emphasizes the feminine, the receptive and the flowing. Indeed Taoism is sometimes called “the Watercourse Way” which refers to its emphasis on flowing around obstacles and deriving its strength from receptivity like water.

I believe that there are many ways in which the Tao is indeed a more feminine, flowing, harmonious form of spirituality. However, what I want to highlight in this article is the true-er meaning of the term “Great Mother” in this context.

Fundamentally, when we talk about the Great Tao, we are talking about a Universal creative force that lies immediately within everyone and everything, and at the same time is transcendent of and lies beyond everyday reality.

The Great Tao is actually beyond any concepts such as yin or yang, masculine and feminine, mother and father. It is the inconceivable, non-dual, oneness of everything and everyone in the Universe. The reason that is called “The Great Mother” is to indicate it’s all embracing nature. It embraces everyone and everything in the universe like a huge, cosmic mother. However, in and of itself it is beyond any kind of masculine/feminine, yin/yang duality, it is the primal unity that lies before yin and yang. It is the source of yin and yang.

One of the main aims of authentic Taoist practice is to harmonize the energies of Yin and Yang within ourselves in such a way that we can go beyond them into the primal, unified wholeness of the Tao. What are the main types of yin/yang harmonization that we are trying to achieve in order to get back in touch with the Tao? Here are some simple and major examples:

• We are trying to harmonize our the inner world of our mind and spirit with the outer world of our daily actions and interactions

• We are trying to balance and harmonize our thinking and feeling

• We are trying to balance and harmonize doing and being

• We are trying to balance strength and willpower with nurturing and love

There are many other such yin/yang polarities. The main point is that the path of the Tao is one of the balancing and harmonizing of the yin and yang elements in our life. When we do achieve this balance, the Great Tao, an experience of the primal oneness and unity of life emerges into our awareness and life. In fact the Great Tao is always with us, within us and around us, but our lack of inner harmony and balance causes us to feel separated from it.

Short breathing exercise for balancing yin and yang, and connecting to the “Great Mother of the Tao”

Look at or visualize a traditional yin /yang circle, such as the one in the illustration at the top of this article.
As you breathe in, feel forceful, energizing yang energy rising within your body and mind.
As you breathe out, feel your mind and body moving into a restful, receptive yin state.
Breathe like this for a while, alternating between yang energy on the in-breath and yin energy on the out-breath.
Now close your eyes. Feel your inhalation and exhalation becoming smooth, relaxed and of equal duration (that is the inhalation and exhalation are of equal length). Feel the yin and yang energies within your body and mind flowing together and becoming a single, unified, non-dual energy.
Identify this single, harmonized, unified energy as the Primal Tao, the Great Mother, beyond yin or yang.
Stay with this harmonized, unified state for a while, finish when ready.

Daily practice:

Try and stay in touch with this feeling of harmony and unity in your daily life. Notice that, even in time of emotional turbulence and outer chaos, if you quieten your mind you can still connect to the Great Mother, the Primal Tao, and feel its presence.
Thanks for reading!

Yours in the Spirit of the Great Mother,
Toby

PS: For those of you in Singapore, this coming Sunday 9th January I am holding a beginners Qi gong Workshop: “How to Raise your Health and Energy Levels with Qi Gong” . An ideal opportunity for those who wish to start a practice to get the knowledge and practical instruction they need!