Opening the Ida, Pingala, Sushumna and Front and Back Chi Channels in Yoga through Advanced Meditation Techniques
Wherther it's yoga, Buddhism, Taoism or some other meditation school, there's a lot of confusion over the number of chi channels in the body, and why certain spiritual schools emphasize this one or that one over another. Frankly, there are thousands of chi channels in the chi body just as there are thousands of veins and arteries in the regular body. However, there are several that are most important for cultivation.
In India the focus is on the left (ida), right (pingala) and central (sushumna) chi channels. Tibetan esoteric teachings were derived from Indian culture, so they focus on the same scheme. In China, the emphasis is on the back (tu-mai) and front (jen-mai) chi channels. If you meditate to achieve emptiness, these open first. After they open, you can discover the importance of the left and right channels, which open next.
If the left and right do not open, you cannot open the central chi channel and obtain samadhi. In terms of Taoism, you also cannot archive the transformation of chi to shen, which is energy to spirit.
In other words, in the preparatory stages of cultivation practice using all sorts of meditation techniques, all the efforts go into opening up the chi channels, which open naturally if you cultivate emptiness and practice sexual restraint (brahmacharya). If you do that and practice one-pointed (centering) prayer, or meditation, japa, emptiness yoga or whatever to calm the mind and realize some degree of emptiness, the chi channels will open naturally. When they open as a basis, the chakras can form and eventually the middle or central chi channel, called sushumna, can open. Then truly transcendental meditation states are possible. Opening the central channel sushumna only gives you a degree of security, or foundation for entering the Tao.
Is opening all the chi channels and chakras the Tao? No. You are only building a solid foundation for the cultivation of the Tao. It is NOT that the achievement of the Tao depends on chi, shen or chi channels and chakras. It doesn't. It depends only on consciousness, but consciousness, because of attachments, is too polluted to realize the true empty nature of the Tao because of all sorts of mental clingings.
At the low stages of the path, since chi and consciousness are linked then the dirtiness of chi is a barrier to clear realization since it obscures consciousness. As a result, letting go of one's chi and thoughts will enable consciousness to detach from the normal polluted operating system of the body with which it tends to identify. With detachment, new vehicles naturally form as they are supposed to do -- it's inherent in this condition -- and the purity of this new vehicle enables a higher stage of realization.That is the reasoning for the Tibetan esoteric school emphasis on the illusory body, which is simply the cleaning or purification of your inner chi body so as to be able to reach a higher stage of realization.
How do these bodies form? Naturally. There is a natural transformation of jing to chi and chi to shen and shen to emptiness and chi channel and chakra openings and so forth if you just let things go and stop attaching to the body or mind. That's one of the purposes of emptiness cultivation, for without this type of yoga true spiritual progress and spiritual awakening is impossible. IMPOSSIBLE, despite what some religions promise. SImply by resting the mind and abandoning attachment to falsities, the naturalistic process of transformation, inherent to the human body and the human condition (Remember -- for other sentient beings it's a different process) can happen naturally.
It is not as if the end result of this process promises the Tao either. It only promises a more purified vehicle/consciousness by which one might seek the Tao. The meditation technique or practice is still emptiness cultivation and mindfulness all the way, and these things NATURALLY fall out of the transformations, just as puberty is a natural transformative process, at the initial stages of the path.
Initially, opening the front and back chi channels helps soften the body and chase out minor wind diseases. For a long healthy life, you need to open up all the extra meridians as well, including those to the bottom of the feet. If you do not experience bliss and happiness in the feet, you cannot suppose that you have opened the tu-mai and jen-mai channels. If the neck does not widen and become always full, you cannot suppose you have opened the left and right (ida and pingala) channels either at a higher stage of cultivation practice either, but this is hard to explain. When the chi mai all open, your chi will begin to circulate freely and there will be changes in your sympathetic and autonomic nervous systems, as well as all your internal organs.
For more information, I always tell people to get TAO AND LONGEVITY, or to read How to Measure and Deepen Your Spiritual Realization. To get started on transforming the body, I suggest Meditation for Beautiful Skin since I've jammed it with 5-6 meditation and kumbhaka pranayama breathing techniques as well as herbs and supplements that will detoxify your connective tissues and make it easier to open up your chi channels.
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