TAOIST IMMORTALITY PRACTICE
Despite the fact that immortality in Taoism refers to the realisation of being That which is unchanging, I include below a collection of practices and ways of living that are good for the health and for living a longer life. They have been taken from over 30-years of Tai Chi and Qigong practice, and also books I have read.
Before partaking of any of these practices please read the disclaimer at the bottom of the page.
Anxiety and worry ages us quickly. A troubled mind can lead to a sickened body. Be free from:
The problems of others
Being right (or wrong)
Being a sage
Having a purpose
Simply find the source and rest. There is no need to be mystical. Desires die in the space of no-mind. Cares disappear in the place that thoughts enter and leave behind.
Accept what you have and make do with less. If abundance comes to you accept it with the same disinterest as a lack of abundance.
Experts wear themselves out. There's no point trying to understand the Dao. If you hear teachings or read scripture, treat them in the same manner you would while listening to rain. Relax with a cup of tea and simple food. Don't meditate. Don't try. Don't do. Just be. Be quiet. Give yourself space for silent sitting and let the mind be free of care, then the energy of what is arising through you will have no obstacle, and what happens will have the force of nature behind it.
The body doesn't need much. Plain food, water, and light exercise.
Don't Wear Yourself Out
Try not to take on anything that is too strenuous for the body or spirit. This will be too harmful to your life energy. Everything comes to be without over-exertion. What you need arises by chance as a reaction to other energies. The things around you, and you yourself, absorb energy, use it, and pass on what you do not need. Life is like this.
Don't take on things in a hurry. Allow them to come to you in a way that feels easy. When results don't work out the way you expect, return to silence and listen.
Don't Limit the Limitless
All possibilities are part of the Tao. You are this too. This means that anything is possible within the scope of what is flowing energetically at the moment. Setting limits to what you can do, or can be done, is false. Allow the flow its full expression and begin to notice the magic of its beautiful unfolding.
Take plenty of short naps. You will still have time to do everything. Listen to the rain, watch the birds, simply hear and observe nature. Get a sense of its pace. If things seem to go awry, slow down until your actions match the pace of the flow of the Tao.
Drink plenty of water but drink seldomly. Drink when you feel thirsty. Be aware that hunger can be a sign that you are not drinking enough. Eat when you feel hungry. Listen to the body for what and when it needs nourishment. Take small meals. Do not overeat as this can harm the body. Notice how you feel after eating. Take time to relax after food so that the body can digest it better. If elderly, eat small light meals frequently. Eat a light meal in the evening so that you don't go to sleep with too much nourishment stored in the body.
Change Your Habits to Suit the Seasons
Rise early in the morning
Don't sit indoors feeling drowsy when it is bright and breezy outside
Take leisurely scenic walks. If you live in the city, take joy in finding small pockets of wildness.
Feel delight in hearing birdsong
Brim with vitality at the rising energy of spring
Take a moment to smell blossoms and admire flowers during your day
Rise early in the morning, go to bed later
Go outside while the air is fresh and the heat of the day is not so strong
Breathe deeply and practise Tai Chi or Qigong, or dance and sing freely
Be aware that cool shady areas can harbour germs such as under eaves and in corridors
If resting indoors do so in a quiet, clean room
If venturing outdoors go where it is naturally cool such as in woodland or by water
Keep the heart at peace and balance your breathing so it is not too fast or shallow
Avoid direct hot sunlight
Don't rest in drafts, and don't sit under an open window
Don't eat raw, cold, greasy food or ice cold drinks - eat bean soups and dark plum drinks
Be careful over sharp changes in temperature between day and night
Dress in thin layers to easily adjust to the heat or cold
In dry autumn air blood fluids can become dry so eat sesame seeds to nourish the blood
Practise massage and Qigong
Rise early and go to bed early
Rise after sunrise when the sun is warm and go to bed earlier
Try to keep your waking hours to that of the birds and wild animals
When very cold, wear thin layers not heavy ones
Don't sit in front of the fire for long
Practise Qigong or Tai Chi and breathe in deeply as though spring
Tend to gardens and trees if you have them and appreciate winter beauty
Eat warm soft, well-cooked food and not tonics or medicines that boost internal heat
Remain fit, lighthearted, optimistic, and open-minded
Remain tranquil whenever possible
Think of your peace as a liquid being held by an internal cauldron - too much excitement or worry will cause the peace to overflow
Breathe in fresh air and exhale stale air
Practise chess to exercise the mind
Make music to lighten the heart
Write and read poetry to connect with nature
Say kindhearted words
Take plenty of walks
Take light naps after food, and sitting quietly
Always be pleasant and optimistic
If you struggle to feel contented think of those less fortunate than yourself
Set Your Routines to Specific Times
Having a daily regime is important. The body responds better when things are done at the same time each day. For example, if you meditate at 9:00 am for twenty minutes each day, the body and mind will grow to expect this and the state of peace will begin before you meditate and will last longer after meditation, therefore, a twenty-minute meditation at the same time each day has a much longer positive impact on the body.
Where to Live
If you can, a beautiful area with clear water to drink, lakes to swim in, dense forests (cleans the air) and fertile land with fragrant flowers. Tree-thick zones generally have less dust and have plenty of negative ions that are good for the body. Many plants secrete substances that kill many bacteria.
If not, tend to flowers and plants, feed the birds in your garden or yard to beautify your environment. Spend more time in the garden no matter how small.
Flowers are nature's physicians because of their beauty and natural aroma. Fragrant Jasmine for example is good for circulating Qi. Dried flowers can also be good such as lilac.
Live in a quiet area, secluded, and with little air and noise pollution. Keep your home well ventilated.
What to Eat
Vegetables and fruits. Avoid rich, salty, greasy food. Cook medicinal herbs with your food. Drink tea (especially green or white) which can help brighten sight and is full of antioxidants.
Eat whole grains rather than bleached white grains. Eat beans, fresh veg and sweet potatoes.
Swallow your saliva. If you have a dry mouth lightly tap your teeth together until saliva comes, then swish it around your mouth before swallowing it.
Have little alcohol. It can aid digestion while fruit wines can reduce heart diseases. Too much alcohol can consume Qi and affect the blood and marrow.
According to Taoists, life-essence is stored in the kidneys, and when we overindulge (especially sex) it affects our lifespan.
All organs are impaired by excessive emotions (according to Taoists):
Anger hurts the liver
Joy hurts the heart
Brooding hurts the spleen
Melancholy hurts the lungs
Pleasures to Do
Always Be Pleasant
Be amiable, prudent, broadminded, modest, magnanimous, and not calculating or worrying over the affairs of others
Always Be Contented
You will always feel short of this and that if you are constantly aware of what you have and what you lack. Wherever you feel there is adversity, step back and compare your circumstances with those in a worse situation. You can then begin to feel calm and cheerful with what you have.
Taking a short nap, sitting quietly, appreciating flowers, listening to birdsong, noticing the sound of wind and rain, appreciate the moon, have wonder about the beauty of nature, appreciate paintings and poetry, enjoy reading, enjoy unrestrained singing, and reciting poetry. Appreciate a view, a landscape, and nature. Enjoy dancing, listening to music, and playing music.
Disclaimer. Please note that all of the practices on this website are described through personal experience, through reading about Taoist health practices, traditional Chinese medicine, and reading books on the advice of centenarians. I am not in a position to advise you. And I am not qualified to do so. They are simply listed here to help bring peace into your life. It is up to you to consider how they impact your health and lifestyle. If in doubt, seek professional advice for your specific situation.