Taoist Meditation

Taoist meditation methods can be organized into two main categories: Tranquil Sitting and Internal Alchemy.

Tranquil Sitting

Tranquil Sitting relies on the practitioner attaining an utmost Yin condition. Meaning, through gentle natural breathing generated from the lower abdomen and an abstract state of contemplation, the mind experiences the Void. Through this cessation of internal turbidity of the mind and external movement of the body, the practitioner will attain clarity of mind and realize tranquility of the body. From these conditions the practitioner can enter the Tao.” —Excerpted from Stuart Olson’s book Clarity & Tranquility

Tranquil Sitting is divided into the practices of Sitting and Forgetting and Contemplation Meditation.

Sitting and Forgetting

In Taoism, the long-term purpose of meditation is clarity and tranquility—simply put, a clear mind and calm body. In this state, you forget that you are sitting, and you even forget that you are forgetting. That happens over time with a consistent, dedicated meditation practice. In the short-term it is best to sit without any desired outcome in mind.

Basic Instructions for Sitting and Forgetting:

  1. Be still and continually correct your meditation posture.
  2. Breathe from your lower abdomen.
  3. Put all your attention (mindfulness) on the lower abdomen. One method is to count the breaths, one count for each exhale, up to ten and then start over at one on the next exhale.
  4. Bring awareness and compassion to whatever thoughts and feelings arise. One way of doing this is called the R.A.I.N. method: Recognize, Allow, Investigate with Intimacy, and Nurture. To learn more and practice this, here is a short guided R.A.I.N. meditation by Tara Brach.
  5. When your mind feels settled and present, allow the mind to rest in bare awareness of all the senses, without any agenda or effort.

*IMPORTANT* It’s important to know that meditation is not right for all people at all times, especially those who have or may have experienced trauma. Click here for more information about Trauma-Sensitive meditation.

Learn more about how to practice the Taoist meditation method of Sitting and Forgetting on the following pages:

Preparing to Meditate

Meditation Posture

Breathing in Meditation

Taoist Meditation Guidance

Coming Out of Meditation

Taoist Contemplation Meditation

For Contemplation Meditation, we have Taoist Scriptures available in our library, and a recording of the Tao Te Ching available in the Celestial Immortal Member Area and you can purchase it through Valley Spirit Arts.

This method involves sitting in meditation and contemplating upon a spiritual text, but not in the sense of attempting to understand the text—just listening as though hearing the sounds of nature in the background. This allows one to absorb the teachings unconsciously when there is no rational analysis of what is being said.

Contemplation meditation can also be done by gazing into nature. Simply contemplating what lies before you and absorbing yourself into that contemplation. It can also be performed while staring at a wall and contemplating certain questions or concepts or things that arise in one’s own mind.

Internal Alchemy

Internal Alchemy is the practice of developing and moving the inner energies of the body: Jing (essence of bodily fluids), Qi (vitality of breath), and Shen (the spirit and will of the mind). At first the movement of energy is the Qi (Fire) and later when cultivating correctly it is the movement of the Elixir (Water).

For more information about Internal Alchemy, see Stuart’s book Refining the Elixir: The Internal Alchemy Teachings of Taoist Immortal Zhang Sanfeng, or become a Celestial Immortal Member to access more Internal Alchemy resources.

Taoist Meditation Links

Preparing to Meditate

Meditation PostureBreathing in Meditation

Taoist Meditation GuidanceComing Out of Meditation

Resource Sections

Tao BlogWhat Is Taoism?

Nourishing Life PracticesTaoist Meditation

Sanctuary of Tao