I have been mostly stuck in “I need more data” mode regarding Taoism/QiGong/Nei Gung. I have been lucky to download some very pertinent videos from the web, and I checked out 10 books from the Sunnyvale Library to scan.
There is a lot of horseshit out there. In a local bookstore tonight I picked up a Chinese “Heavenly QiGung Practices” book about a 250-year-old master’s routine of clicking his teeth together 36 times as part of the practice. He was said to be 7 feet tall but died just after WWII.
On the other hand, I found a very useful task-oriented book, by a very reputable writer, with about 100 postures for treating all sorts of ailments. Joint problems and soft tissue disorders are seemingly very amenable to QiGong postures (the atomistic positions strung into tai chi routines, for example); treating frozen shoulder is a specialty apparently. It is also curable in a half-dozen acupuncture sessions, according to other books.
There is not much available about the dissolving meditation techniques Frantzis talks about, and what little there is seems to be spoken of as an advanced procedure. That makes sense, as the whole internal martial arts/medical QiGong/TuiNa (Chi projection from doctor to patient)/Meditation constellation depends on becoming aware of the various inner states and alignments of the body. The meditation would then depend upon accurately feeling the energy blockage in memory or in some somatic muscle memory.
But none of the elements in this suite of “internal” arts acts in isolation from the others. To study the martial art postures is to take benefit in heath and mental stability as well as battle-oriented physical alignments and movement. Since he was being trained as a “lineage holder”, who was responsible for learning all the phases of the internal arts, BK Frantzis served in Chinese hospitals as a TuiNa practitioner as well as being ordained as a Taoist “priest”. He does say that the meditation was the hardest of all the phases of his learning. And the descriptions of what is up there in the Stratosphere of Taoism is remarkably like the much more detailed road-maps of AH Almaas, who of course created a head path rather than a body path.
So I am planning to start with physical postures that are so simple that you basically can’t do them incorrectly. They are also some of the most powerful ones, but the tradeoff is that you must practice for several thousand hours before getting the substantial benefits. Jane Alexander (Possessing Me) probably averaged 5 hours a day for several years, and several other books point to this general commitment of practice as necessary to “get started” on the road. I’m hoping that the “tide lifts all boats” effect will increase my mental stability along with building health and martial chi, even with baby steps.
But the Sufi path has 3 parts and is said to take 15 years per part. The Naqshbandi branches described by Idris Shah had postures and exercises, but Shaykh Nazim never talked about them. In general the Sufis rely on Baraka, the transmission of grace and spiritual instruction, available through the initiatic line. It seems that the higher levels of the internal arts are passed along through the lineage’s initiatic line as well. I wish I could get together with Frantzis; I could tell him a lot that would shed light on his experience, and vice versa, I’m sure.