Is an empty mind necessary?
Taoists meditate in many different ways, sitting, standing, walking and in movement forms such as tai chi and qigong. A lot of people think that a requirement of meditation or a result of meditation is to have an empty mind, this may be the case but it is not the purpose.
In Buddhist practice the ultimate goal of meditation is to attain enlightenment, but there are many practices that vary between the traditions. Sitting with a calm mind, you may employ reflections aimed at developing mindfulness, loving-kindness and compassion, insight or tranquillity.
Taoist theory teaches that people can use their imagination whilst meditating. They do not mean the creative and colourful imagination you may be thinking of, but instead imagining something simple like a lotus flower in front of your nose or laying in the grass watching the white clouds drift aimlessly above you.
What about breathing & music?
In terms of sounds during meditation, the noises of nature around you should not be a disturbance but rather a source of a realisation that they are part of the universe and therefore part of your meditation. Think of these sounds as your meditation music, no YouTube required! You may be thinking, well what about breath? Breath is your only companion from the time you are born until the time you die. Taoist Master, Master Gu points out that when you are focused on the imagination your breath becomes harmonious. Master Gu also highlights an alternative to some Buddhist meditation techniques that involve counting your breath. Master Gu’s personal technique is to say four words in his mind that relate to your meditation.
He questions why count number when you can say four beautiful and meaningful words that connect your action with your health? He continues to say finding a balance in your meditation is quite simple, if you have been sitting down for too long, stand up. If you have been standing up for too long, start walking. If you have been walking for too long, sit down.
Some parting wisdom from Master Gu
Don’t be too hard on yourself! It is a long and delicate road to finding balance. And if you’re still wondering why you should meditate, the final goal is to cultivate physical and spiritual energy and to raise your quality of life. Never lose yourself in the hustle and bustle of life, wellness means not to forget yourself.
This article was written by freelance writer, Lachlan Cornell