This concise overview of the internal path is comprised of just a few fundamentals that are curiously both obvious at first glance and contain bedrock depths. It’s based upon several decades’ experience in the western eastern-influenced internal arts scene (yogic, Hindu, Buddhist, Taoist, modern American mysticism) yet, I suspect, has universally broad application: it’s generic. I even have some unhinged hope that this overview is both accessible and of utility across a wide spectrum of atheists ~ agnostics ~ theists.
The ground zero generic fundamental is “breathe and be present”. Everyone readily relates, no special background required. And yet the sustained union of breath and awareness is foundational for stillness meditation and integral movement practices in every internal arts tradition.
I’m not trying to convert anyone to any particular school, nor start anything new. I’m highlighting a few essential mechanics of what’s commonly inherent, where ever you’re walking.
a functional overview of the internal path
The above picture symbolizes three “generic fundamentals”:
1. Opening the Tissues and Channels
3. Vertical Integration
Most folks immediately relate to just that simply stated list. Pretty obvious, even. It’s what we all do naturally, anyway. There are some details that get pretty interesting; here we go.
1. “Opening the Tissues and Channels” (basis: the body)
Jade is both hard and soft, and so symbolizes being well blended. The jade ring represents opening and preparing the body, through regular exercise (cardiovascular, etc) as well as through various bodywork and body-wisdom-disciplines. In bodywork it’s generally understood that trauma of various levels (psychological and other) is often stored physically (and in some energetic layers close to the physical). In this context I’m using “channels” to refer mostly to the channels described in Chinese medicine (12 regular and 8 extraordinary, not just du and ren), opened through various modalities.
This area is extensively addressed through myriad available resources, secularly and across most traditions. Beyond framing it as an essential category in this little outline, I’ve nothing to add. 🙂
It is individual integration with forces larger than the individual,
in a way that both transcends and supports the individual,
that imbues internal cultivation with long term functional depth.
2. “Centering” (personal basis: deep-center, transpersonal basis: spacious awareness)
People commonly have an immediate kinesthetic sense of the noun/verb, “center”, whether vague or with specific mechanics in mind. Certainly it denotes focus. With just a little bit of experimentation it becomes clear that centering relates to a broad spectrum of inter-related human physicality, psychology, and deepening of awareness related to meditation. While inclusively relevant, my emphasis here is the latter.
The paper represents spacious awareness, the one medicine, the big light, luminous emptiness, sky of mind. The quiet deep-centers (and related central vessel, sushumna) of the personal have special resonances with the universal: the skillful nexus of drop ~ ocean. Various refinement, concentration and stillness practices are relevant.
3. “Vertical Integration” (personal basis: myofascial web, transpersonal basis: heaven and earth)
The trigrams above n’ below and the jade ring between symbolize the interplay of the energies of heaven and earth through a person. These energies are neither distant nor abstract, but are kinesthetically felt flowing through the body. “Earth” is felt as heavy, “heaven” as lofty. Lofty and heavy are coursed through the body with increasing skill and depth of integration by practicing relevant internal arts. The myofascial web refers to the continuum of connective tissue: fascia ~ tendon ~ ligament ~ bone. In recent decades, western bodywork therapies and exercise systems have become aware of the importance of the myofascial web. Eastern systems, especially the classic three Taoist internal martial arts (tai chi, xing yi, and bagua zhang) and related systems of qigong, emphasize the development of connective tissue as conduit to the energies of “heaven and earth”.
The flow of earth ~ human ~ heaven is also integral with the centers. Impossible to separate this stuff. 🙂
So, in review. A functional overview of the internal path, “generic fundamentals”:
0. Breathe and be present
1. Opening the tissues and channels
3. Vertical integration
Brown bag, simple, relatable, startlingly comprehensive, obvious yet integral with inexhaustible depth.
… representing not static accomplishments, but dynamic living process.
The primary purpose of “John Dao Productions” is to clarify fundamentals of theory. (The few methods I present are chosen in order to illustrate theory.) With a little resulting familiarity you’ll find that these few “generic fundamentals” are broadly utilitarian across varying terrain, yet fit on a matchbook cover.
I have modest hope, tempered by realism, that this will make some small contribution toward the cause of establishing relatable common ground sans dogma among widely differing paths. Maybe just even among a few friends. 🙂