Meditation is a way of life. The term in often used for a variety of practices and has lost meaning in many ways as many people now seek a meditation pill for their hectic lives. I’ve taught Taoist meditation for several years and have moved further away from dogma of any kind. Why? Because meditation does not require us to sit. It doesn’t require special clothing, nor does it necessarily require us to consciously breathe in any way. These are all techniques. There is nothing wrong with this approach other than the folly of mistaking techniques with actual meditation.
So what is meditation? It is letting ourselves BE the pure consciousness that we are. The practice is not technique oriented but one of letting go. We cultivate qi (chi) or breathe to a spot in the lower abdomen for years so that we can settle into our bodies and calm the mind but this personal cultivation is not the end all. We can’t learn meditation from a book or a series of workshops that teach us to focus our minds because true meditation happens OUTSIDE of the mind. We cannot come from the mind and escape it at the same time. Meditation is that place of eternity where time and space do not exist. When we allow our true nature to simply BE and let go of doing anything, we can slip into this realm of pure consciousness.
So why all of the cultivation? It is a means to an ends but should not be mistaken for what it is doing. We can breathe and feel the chi running through our bodies and we can sit and remember our essential nature through the seeds of our practice while warming our palms and sitting with the Tao. The benefits of deep breathing are amazing but the process of unfolding has been lost in modern times. In qigong we touch the tip of the tongue to the roof of the mouth to connect inner circuits and focus our life energy which is great for personal healing and calming the mind. However, if people want to learn about enlightenment, it will require reflection and conscious dedication to the question of what true meditation is. You cannot get this out of a book or a Tai Chi form. You cannot practice methods or store enough chi to gain consciousness. You ARE consciousness so there is nothing to gain short of the gnosis of this very fact.
Life is an amazing journey and if we regularly remind ourselves that much of what we care to gain is actually a fantasy, we can proceed to unlearn what is inhibiting us and actually grow in awareness. The essence of Taoist practice lies in this.