In the ancient Taoist tree of practices with branches such as acupuncture, herbology, massage, five element nutrition, qi gong, tai chi, feng shui, I Ching and meditation, the practices dealing with the sexual energy occupy a prominent place.
In ancient China Taoist masters were well known for their specialized knowledge on sexual matters. Emperors and Empresses would consult in secret Taoist masters for learning the essentials of sexual practice. This would be done not only for enhancing sexual pleasure with the numerous concubines that filled the court, but more specifically for attaining the Chinese ideal of having a long and healthy life.
From very early times sexual energy management has been associated in China with high vitality, strong senses, sharp mind, vibrant health, personal magnetism, psychic powers and the ability to prolong life beyond its ordinary limits.
Contrary to popular belief Taoist sexual practices are not an independent discipline existing all by itself. On the contrary, sexual practices are considered a branch of the Taoist tree of disciplines having as central trunk the meditations for calming the mind and opening the infinite potential of the human spirit.
THE 5 ESSENTIALS OF TAOIST SEXUAL PRACTICE
The two fundamentals
The recycling of sexual energy requires first of all that the practitioner has developed an ability to feel every part of the body and specifically the movement of the Qi or life force through the meridian system. Without the ability to feel the Qi there is no Taoist practice. The ability to feel every part of the body is the opening of communication between the mind and physical body.
If attempting any energy practice without the fundamentals of feeling the body and identifying the movement of Qi, the practitioner is energetically blind and unable to determine when practice should stop or how intensely a technique should be done.
The risk of practicing without the two fundamentals is energy becoming stuck in the upper part of the body and causing a host of undesirable side effects such as headaches, insomnia, irregular heartbeat, high blood pressure, ringing in the ears and so on. The list is quite long…
Knowing how to circulate consciously the Qi through the meridian system
Any energy practice has the potential to increase the energy flow through the meridian system. Increased flow is akin to having more traffic through the avenues of a great city. As we all know, if everyone is heading out of town on the holidays the traffic is going to be heavy and slow everywhere. Bottlenecks raise tempers and overheat engines, besides the increase in the personal quotient of impatience and frustration.
Recycling sexual energy is as simple as moving the accumulated Qi in the genital area and moving it through the nervous system and the vital organs. However to do this the practitioner should be very acquainted with the best meridians for driving safely from one place to another.
The energy superhighway in the human energy system is the combination of meridians ascending up the spine from the perineum and descending down the front of the chest to the perineum. This circular path goes by a variety of traditional names and is better known in the Occident as the Microcosmic Orbit.
In the same way that the traffic in a superhighway can move smoothly, slow or be totally blocked, the Microcosmic Orbit can be partially blocked and distributing Qi flow inefficiently. So one of the most important priorities in energy work is keeping the Orbit flowing as efficiently as possible. Many are the sexual practice aspirants who proceed to recycle the sexual energy without knowing anything about the Qi flow in the Orbit and end up with the sexual energy stopping either at the head or the heart.
Harmonizing the emotions
Taoist energy work is known to increase energy flow and promote vitality. However the Taoists are not just concerned with increasing Qi flow, most important is the quality of the Qi.
One of the factors which most readily affect the quality of personal Qi is the emotions that are being produced in our organs.
The ancient Taoists discovered in the course of their meditations that our emotions, both positive and negative, take their point of departure in the condition of the vital organs. If, for example, the liver is circulating the Qi very smoothly, then that ease of movement is experienced as a positive mental state which expresses itself as kindness, generosity and a state of personal ease. On the contrary if the flow is hindered by excessive tension and heat in the liver, then the experience of such a difficult flow manifests as anger, aggression and a general state of dissatisfaction.
The Taoists also discovered that the sexual energy that expresses itself through the sperm in men and the ovum in women is a composite of the essences from each of the vital organs, the nervous system, the glands, brain and bones. In other words, sexual energy is a team effort where every part of the body contributes its finest.
If our organs at the moment of contributing their share for empowering the sperm and the ovum are congested with negative emotions and tensions, then the sexual energy is going to carry such qualities as part of its overall make up. So it is essential that the practitioner of sexual recycling pays a great deal of attention to the emotional quality that flows from the vital organs.
The Taoists developed numerous practices for transforming the energy flow in the organs and thus affecting the emotional quality. The first method is that of Six Healing Sounds utilizing simple movements and sounds. A deeper method is that of harmonizing the element in each of the organs while at the same time resolving unfinished situations which are still emotionally charged.
It can be said that any physical exercise which changes the rate of respiration and accelerates blood and energy flow will have a positive effect on the emotions and the organs.
Knowing how to align the physical structure
Although it may seem remotely connected to sexual practice, the ability to align the physical body properly is fundamental in all energy work not just sexual recycling.
The alignment of the structure is learned in order to facilitate the circulation of Qi through the meridian system while at the same time opening the flow from the energies of the universe. Without a correct structure, the Qi has to fight its way to circulate through every part of the organism. It is as if our superhighway out of town is covered with roadblocks and detours every few miles.
Right structure is essential in sexual practice because of the nature of sexual energy itself. Sexual energy has been called “the water of life” in many ancient cultures because it was observed that when non-aroused sexual energy is tranquil, it behaves like water at room temperature. However during stimulation sexual energy becomes like water which is heating up and heading towards boiling. As we know, water at room temperature is easy to handle, but boiling water is another matter, it has to be handled with lots of care and we have to be very careful where we pour it.
The recycling of aroused sexual energy requires the most direct and easy line of flow to reach the vital organs and the nervous system. In addition to having the Microcosmic Orbit flowing properly, the physical structure should be lending support to the meridian flow by providing the optimum facility of movement.
The alignment of the structure begins with something as simple as feeling an invisible cord lifting the crown and the sacrum at the bottom of the spine being pulled downward. Many specialized postures were developed by the Taoists and now form part of the basic structure of Qi Gong exercises.
The right nutrition
Many of the men practitioners of Taoist sexual energy recycling are unaware that the goal of learning to control the ejaculation and prolonging sexual play is related to what they had for dinner on the eve and what type of food predominates their diet.
The food we eat is one of the four sources of energy we have along with the air we breathe, the energy we receive from heaven and earth and the inherited ancestral energy our parents have passed to us.
Each of the four sources of energy is akin to the legs of a table: if anyone is short or weak, it unbalances the table along with everything we placed on it. A diet which is excessive in concentrated foods such as animal proteins will render more difficult the goal of sexual energy recycling because sensitivity is reduced, as well as blood circulation. Animal foods in excess also render more difficult the task of raising the energy through the back of the Microcosmic Orbit because such foods in general are strongly descending which is the opposite of what is searched in sexual recycling.
INCORPORATING THE FIVE BASIC STEPS OF TAOIST SEXUAL PRACTICE
Many publications have appeared in recent times promoting different methods for sexual energy recycling. The impression is created that it is absolutely safe to concentrate on a few breathing exercises along with some muscle contractions and all will be well. Experience has taught that it is not the case. The best evidence is the countless number of people who search out Taoist teachers to help them resolve energy problems in their sexual practice learned from books. Often there is absolutely nothing faulty with the methods in the books, simply that the practices lack the context of the five essentials outlined before.
It is important that anyone interested in learning the Taoist sexual practices places them in the context of a complete system, rather than as an isolated exercise. This is the simplest way of honoring the tremendous power inherent in the creative energy of the universe concentrated in the reproductive cycle.