Daoist Massage is also known as the Art of Regulating the Internal and External. It is one of the oldest Daoist exercises for regulating the body, energy and mind as it helps the body stay in contact with the natural circulation of energy. There are three levels to this practice, the first level is for general health, the second is to open ones internal possibilities and the third is to prepare for alchemical work. The practice is based on combination of the internal efforts which allows to open and close the body, twist and untwist, stretch and condense, intensify and relax, divide and connect it.
The main task of the Daoist self-massage is achieve regulation and preparation of the vessels and the organs of the body for internal alchemical work, or longer meditational work as well as preparation for practices in movement which require absolute openness of energy circulation in the body. According to the Daoist system, development requires that any internal activity is preceded by presence of energy circulation in the body. If the energy is not circulating normally in the vessels, it is difficult to achieve qualitative work in any practice.
According to the Daoist tradition, the physical body of man and his energy structure are formed by a set of energetical vessels. Our vital force, represented in the qi, jing and shen energies, is preserved, assimilated and transformed in the vessels of the energy structure.
The results of our existence in physical form are directly dependent on the quantity and the quality of the qi, jing and shen energies. That is the reason why Daoist masters paid utmost attention to the development and strengthening of the energy vessels of the body. Because only a complete vessel allows to preserve and transform energy.
In the understanding of ancient masters, each vessel is not simply a form to be filled with energy, but also a specific energy formation called cauldron. The cauldron represents the highest stage of the development of the vessel in alchemy, allowing to transform the energy and change its quality. The process is related to the creation of alchemical ingredients which is a necessary condition for gathering of the elixir and preparation of the golden pill of immortality.
The vessels of the body are divided into external, internal and cinnabar fields.
The external vessels form our external sphere and regulate the prenatal energy (karma). There are nine of these vessels:
- Volume of the Vital Force (feet)
- Volume of the Mysterious Connection (knees)
- Volume of the Flower Shell (hips)
- Volume of the Purple Shell (shoulders)
- Volume of the Heavenly Connection (elbows)
- Volume of the Rainbow Force (palms)
- Volume of the Flower Cauldron (abdomen)
- Volume of the Purple Connection (chest)
- Volume of the Jade Emperor (head)
The internal vessels form our internal sphere and regulate the postnatal energy (karma). There are 12 internal vessels (6 pairs of yinyang organs):
- (a) Air Repository (lungs yin)
- (b) Major Connection Repository (large intestine yang)
- (a) Yellow Teacher Repository (stomach yang)
- (b) Earth Repository (spleen yin)
- (a) Purple Repository (heart yin)
- (b) Minor Connection Repository (small intestine yang)
- (a) Muddy Repository (bladder yang)
- (b) Primary Qi Repository (kidneys yin)
- (a) Purple Terrace Repository (pericardium yin)
- (b) Three Connections (triple burner yang)
- (a) Yellow Repository (gall bladder yang)
- (b) Pomegranate Repository (liver yin)
The cinnabar fields are viewed as both external and internal vessels, since by virtue of their dual nature, they function as both external and internal vessels. There are 3 basic cinnabar fields:
- Lower cinnabar field (abdomen);
- Middle cinnabar field (chest);
- Upper cinnabar field (head).
Thus, the 9 external and 12 internal vessels, together with the 3 cinnabar fields form the 24 volumes of the body, which the Daoist massage aims to activate and prepare.
The practice consists of 5 levels.
Opening through the space of qi energy. Defined by the activation of the volume of the body.
Opening of the volume through the space of jing energy. Defined by the control over the energy circulation in the vessel orbits and the organs of the body.
Opening of the volume through the space of shen energy. Defined by the preservation and transformation of the energy in the vessels and organs.
Opening of the volume through the space of the cinnabar. Defined by the energy transformation in the body through creating internal effort in the lower and middle cinnabar fields.
Opening of the volume through the space of the distilled cinnabar. Defined by the energy transformation in the body through creating internal effort in the upper cinnabar fields.