Relaxing Into Your Being, a review

Relaxing Into Your Being is an introduction to the Water Method of Taoist taught by lineage holder and Taoist master Bruce Frantzis. Subjects covered by this instructive book include:

A comparison of Fire and Water schools of Taoism.
Breathing techniques, from the beginner to advanced
The Eight Bodies of Being and their relationship to one’s self and spirituality
The Sixteen-Part nei gung system
The primary and secondary energy channels of the body
The inner dissolving practice
Encountering and working with the mindstream
How to sit comfortably and correct your own posture internally

It teaches the all-important who, what, how, where and why in terms of how meditation works, how to identify internal blocks, where you apply your intent, how to determine whether or not what you are doing is actually working, what to do with problems you may encounter, how to make the most of your practice time, and much much more.

Life changing inner work

This book, along with it’s companion “The Great Stillness: The Water Method of Taoist Meditation Series, Vol. 2″ were invaluable to me during my twenties in dealing with my mental health problems. Prior to starting Taoist Water Method meditation in 1996 I suffered from recurring suicidal depression, bipolar mania, severe anxiety and post traumatic stress disorder resulting from growing up and being repeatedly traumatized and abused both at home and at school, and later in institutions. By the time I was an adult, I was pretty messed up and not very happy.

Therapy and counseling had little effect on me and psychiatric drugs made my life even worse and didn’t help me in any meaningful way. I did not come from a privileged family, so I did not have any kind of support network, or health insurance. As someone with severe and treatment resistant mental illness, the outcome of my life did not look good. In the midst of all this suffering, I found Bruce Frantzis’ Inner and Outer dissolving practice.

I had considerable meditation training before I encountered Bruce’s Taoist dissolving practices. But most of the techniques I had learned had little to do with healing the heart and stilling the mind and were instead more like training for the psychic Olympics, a path which Bruce describes in this book as a trap. Indeed, I was one of those spiritual power junkies who trained meditation to increase my psychic abilities because of my weaknesses and fear and unresolved PTSD and a deep insecure desire to have a scary and unseen advantage over other people.

When I learned Vipassana and Zen, I learned how to listen to my inner world, as well as how to concentrate, but neither Zen or Vipassana came with the tools to literally rid myself of the stuff that was coming up in practice. This is the major difference between Taoist Water Tradition versus other traditions. The dissolving techniques described herein are a way of using intent and awareness to liberate your consciousness of the turmoil that manifests when doing deep breathing or other energy work that brings the unprocessed and destabilizing content of your inner world to your everyday waking awareness.

I made practicing Taoist meditation my personal religion and discipline. I practiced morning and night, every day, for years. Slowly but surely the chaos and noise of my inner world and all my pain began to abate, a little bit at a time, month after month, year after year.

Within the first two years of dedicated practice I found my depression had been cured. Within five years, I had, using the dissolving process and the nei gung system described in “Relaxing”, completely healed myself of the neurological conditioning of PTSD. Gone were the nightmares, flashbacks and triggers that had haunted my life previously. Also gone were manic episodes and racing thoughts and anxiety attacks and I gained an inner confidence and self-esteem that I had previously never known.

This work made me stronger, mentally, physically and energetically. I can say that without dissolving the first four Bodies of Being, I’d probably still be suffering to this day. But thanks to the practice of Taoist Water Method meditation, I have not been depressed in fifteen years. While I’m hardly Enlightened, I am very happy with myself and my life, which is something that was missing when I started this. I cannot praise ‘Relaxing Into Your Being’ enough. The practice of the material within its pages totally changed my life around and gave me a reason to live.

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7 Responses to Relaxing Into Your Being, a review

  1. wakkerrere says:

    “When I learned Vipassana and Zen, I learned how to listen to my inner world, as well as how to concentrate, but neither Zen or Vipassana came with the tools to literally rid myself of the stuff that was coming up in practice.”

    too true. as people on such sites as DhO and KFD find out, Vipassana can really make you more aware of your suffering and even (at what they call 4th path) cause you to not care about that suffering, the suffering is there.

    if you haven’t heard about it, maybe you want to take the “ridding myself of the stuff” one step further and rid yourself of ALL stuff that makes one suffer, by taking a look at Actual Freedom?

    have you ever had an experience that sounds something like these? http://actualfreedom.com.au/actualism/others/corr-pce.htm . they tend to happen more frequently with childhood. if so, the idea is to take that pure state and cultivate it, and in the process get rid of whatever prevents you from being in that state (which are basically emotions and desires).

    even if you dont take it that far, you can try applying this technique to just generally make yourself a happier person: http://actualfreedom.com.au/richard/articles/thismomentofbeingalive.htm .

    • Jane says:

      Hi there, thanks for stopping by. A few comments.

      Re: Vipassana making you more aware of your suffering. I don’t think that is a bad thing. In fact I think it’s a necessary thing. The problem is, if you have a lot of suffering it can overwhelm you if you are not prepared for it and you don’t know what to do about it. Dissolving allowed me to release my suffering in the moment.

      I took a look at your links and I have some thoughts. I have had many experiences like the ones described there, as well as others that are not described but which I went into in depth in a memoir that I wrote about using Taoist meditation to overcome my suffering.

      I do not place as high a degree of value on peak meditation experiences as you (or the author of those sites) seem to. Meditation highs come and they go. They can be useful insofar as they tell you that you are making progress. It can be fun and make you feel intimately spiritual and grant you expanded states of awareness. However, I was taught not to attach myself to them but to accept them when they come and let them go when it’s time. I don’t see that you offer me anything more than what I already have. But I appreciate your thoughtfulness.

      • wakkerrere says:

        Ah thanks for taking a look at the links! A few comments…

        I didn’t mean to say that being more aware of your suffering is bad. In fact that is the key to getting rid of it, and I myself have had much success w/ Vipassana.

        About AF… I believe there is a difference between a meditation high (such as a glorious Arising & Passing Away stage during which you have mind-blowing energy stuff happening), and the PCE. Actually if you become attached to the PCE it immediately stops happening, as during the PCE your ‘self’ is temporarily absent, along with any emotions, desires, feelings, etc. (which apparently is not so bad, when you read those descriptions of them). So if you become attached to it, already your self is back in play. I think the phrase is, “But try to make it [the PCE as you're experiencing] yours, and ’twill vanish as swiftly as it came.”

        The goal of AF isn’t to have PCEs all the time. It’s to get rid of that self permanently. It’s just that the PCE offers a really good pointer on how to do that, so the focus is on at least getting into one so you can verify for yourself what the heck he’s talking about =P (e.g. a common pattern is for people to say “what? getting rid of all emotions sounds terrible!” but then they remember a PCE and go “ahh no that makes sense – looking back, that was indeed wonderful, and indeed there were no emotions”).

        Well to sum it up – if you are still suffering in any way that you feel you’d be better off not (suffering in the Buddhist sense of the word, even stuff like getting annoyed, irritated, nostalgic, etc.), maybe you can take a look, because the reports of AF people (and the reports of those hanging out with them) indicate that it really is now impossible for them to get angry, or annoyed, or bored, or be malicious, or nostalgic, etc.

        In any case, I currently believe them, can’t verify it for myself yet as I haven’t had a PCE yet that I remember, but just applying the method I linked tends to make my days much more positive.

  2. Jane says:

    Wakkerre: “It’s to get rid of that self permanently.”

    Good luck with that. That’s one of those things that, looks good on paper and all, but taken off the pages and applied to real life, is shown to be impractical and unlikely. If you annihilate your ‘self’ and you can never be angered, offended or irritated, then you are set to be a dispassionate observer to abuse and injustice. Image being so ‘advanced’ that you can be sitting in a park and witness someone shooting child porn or abusing their dog or spouse and because you are beyond self you can just watch and not be at all bothered. That is a personality trait I do not wish to cultivate.

    The goal in the tradition that I practice is to become comfortable with life and with most situations most of the time. If you can get to a place where you are not depressed and you are fairly even tempered most of the time, you are doing pretty good being a human. I am not talking theory here, as you probably know, I wrote a book about getting to that stage in development.

    Many years ago I discovered that using meditation I could bypass my sense of humanity and not give one care what happens to people and what people do to each other and I rejected staying in that state. That is really what you are talking about, if you take those ideas you you have presented to me and actually put them into practice.

    A far more realistic and achievable goal I would think would be for you to get to a state of engaged equilibrium where you are mostly happy most of the time, but can still be galvanized to right action if the need arises. Trying to stay blissed out on life is not going to work too well unless you deliberately hide out in a monastery or out in the middle of nowhere all the time. I’ll say again that the goal of meditation is not about chasing various meditation highs and states of consciousness. It’s about becoming comfortable with yourself and your life in the present moment. It’s not human nature to be blissed out all the time. The ability to be blissed out all the time is something else I encountered awhile back during my practice, and similarly rejected. It’s not the path of Taoism.

  3. jaklumen says:

    I just got the book a few days ago. As odd as it seems for me to say this, I’m having some difficulty starting the exercises reading them off the page, so, right now, I’m looking at the Energy Arts site and EnergyArtsVideos at YouTube, seeing if I can find some video examples.

    • Jane says:

      To my knowledge there are not too many videos in existence about the practice of Water Method meditation.
      In the book the first four lessons can be summarized thus:

      Lesson One. Feeling the movement and sensation of the breath as it enters your body.
      Lesson Two. Monitoring and naturally extending a smooth and continuous breath cycle. In smooth, then out smooth. As opposed to other breath training methods, like yoga pranayama, which may have cycle like: Inhale for X seconds, hold for X seconds, exhale for X seconds.
      Lesson Three. Breath counting and being present during the count.
      Lesson Four. Brings lessons 1, 2 and 3 together.

      Not everyone learns the same from books. A video might be just what you need, that, or live, in-person training. Maybe it’s time I make some vids for YT again. :)

  4. skybluesight says:

    Hi I’ve had two comments on your “Alternative Mental Health Recovery” Blog for 12 days or so.
    Maybe they went into a spam filter since I just started a new wordpress account, or maybe you haven’t been around?
    Anyway – there you go.

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