Taoist meditation helps us to calm our mind and our emotions so we do not overreact to every bump in the road. Hua-Ching Ni says in his book 8,000 Years of Wisdom, “Usually something unimportant stimulates an emotional response, and then one unconsciously emphasizes the trouble to support being emotional.”

Taoist meditation is often called “Embracing the One” or “Returning to the Source.” There is much about it that is mystical and may at first seem hard to understand for the beginner. It is different from many other forms of Eastern meditation practices because it emphasizes energy practice over mind practice. True, we do use the mind to guide the chi, or internal energy, to quiet the emotions, and to let go of all outside influences — those “external pernicious influences” that stir up the mud of our inner selves. But even when we are sitting still doing nothing (ching-jingwuwei), we are still running energy throughout our body or in what is known as the microcosmic orbit (up the back and down the front) or cooking up healing medicine in the cauldron of our lower dantian.

Most Taoist meditation techniques centers on the lower dantian; however, it is interesting to note that women are often taught to instead put their focus on the middle dantian, the point between the breasts, just above the solar plexus. This point is connected to the heart center, where the shen resides. It is felt that, because of the superior spiritual nature of women, they do not need to do quite so much of the basic foundational energetic work as men do.

From the outside, the meditating individual appears to be sitting quietly, breathing deeply and gently, with a small half smile on his or her lips. On the inside, however, great forces are at work, reshaping and rerouting streams of energy and light. This internal healing energy then begins reshaping the outside. Not only do regular Taoist meditators begin to feel different, they often even look different to others. Worry lines and wrinkles begin to relax and disappear; the body, especially the spine, begins to realign itself and the Taoist meditator’s posture changes. The ability to deal with life’s challenges and pressures improves dramatically, and so one’s entire disposition changes accordingly.