May 31, 2016 nathanbrine

Pain as Access in Neidan Practice

(Note: the following is not a how-to guide; it is to complement the teachings of Wang Liping.)

Practicing internal alchemy with Wang Liping is not for the feint of heart, at times it’s painful and uncomfortable. But that’s the nature of transformation. During meditation pain indicates that qi is transforming (氣化), and that’s a good thing.

When we sit for a long period of time our body might begin to hurt. As long as our posture is correct and we haven’t forced our legs into position, for example yanking them up into full lotus before they’re ready, we will be fine. (Be careful at the end of the session, if they are numb let them properly thaw out before standing.)

Pain in our bodies arises when our shishen 識神 (postcelestial shen of our senses, ego-self) and our yuanshen 元神 (precelestial shen) are in conflict. More precisely when our shishen overcomes our yuanshen. When this happens return to the precelestial; stay with the yuanshen. The pain is beneficial, it heals the body. It’s also a way of burning through our reincarnation energy 轉世能量, or karma.

One way that pain gives us access in practice is by turning jing into qi. Here’s an example that also opens our microcosmic orbit, and helps us set up the cauldrons:

When we feel pain in our legs during a session first examine the nature of the pain. Ask ourself where the pain is. Ask what kind of pain it is. Stay present and examine the pain. Is it in the skin, the muscles, deeper tissues, bone, or bone marrow? As the pain progresses let it permeate deeply into the legs. After a time it will move deeper into the core of the legs. Once it hits the bone marrow it will turn to hot jing qi (essence qi), and will slowly move inside the bones of the legs towards the sit bones. It will feel like a hot viscous liquid. It will not move quickly. Once it reaches the sit bones the sit bones will heat up, and eventually the coccyx will begin to heat up and realign (Sitting on a wood board helps). At this point the hot jing qi will begin rising up the tailbone and spine.

Once this has happened you have setup the lower cauldron. The two sit bones along with the coccyx represent the three legs of the first cauldron (in Chinese the cauldron, or ding 鼎, is a three-legged vessel). The three legs of the second cauldron are the two kidneys and the Mingmen (the area not the acupuncture point). Another cauldron is the Nine Palaces area in the head.


  1. This type of training is best done under direct guidance with a teacher. If you are not working with a teacher just push the length of your sessions a bit at a time. If you have lasting pain in the legs a day or two after a session you’re probably over doing it.
  2. Don’t let the heat go into the internal organs. If it does direct it into the kidneys. They like heat. Other organs, not so much.
  3. With full lotus you will only feel two points with the first cauldron.

Another issue that may arise while practicing neidan is body discomfort. As we clean out the energetic and emotional sludge that is stuck in our bodies, the body can feel a bit nasty at times. It’s amazing what stays locked inside our bodies from past emotional trauma. Cleaning the body is also known as purifying the furnace 清爐. To succeed with the alchemical work the body needs to be energetically clean and healthy. However, as the nasty stuff comes out the body can feel sore and achey at times. This also is a good thing. Have a hot bath, get some rest and everything will be fine. It’s just par for the neidan course.

Tagged: , , , , ,