Within Daoism it is said that a person must work with the ‘three treasures’ if they are to maintain good health, find peace of mind and then, ultimately, some kind of spiritual liberation. These three treasures are a person’s essence, their energy and then finally their spirit.
The classical process for Daoist’s was to work through the key substances of the body in sequence. This means that a practitioner begins by refining the essence, then works up towards refining their energy and then finally development of the spirit. It is understood that to develop effectively a solid foundation must be built in each stage before moving on to the next aspect of your practice. Consolidation of essence to a certain level is required in order to ensure that a practitioner’s health is at such a stage that it can provide a high quality base from which to begin moving deeper into internal practice.
It is the case for men that their essence is lost through the natural life and ageing cycles but also through loss of sexual fluids upon ejaculation. This is why many classical schools of Daoism had guidelines around restricting sexual activity for male students or in many cases completely forbade it.
For women a large degree of their essence is lost through the monthly menstrual cycle. A woman does not lose their essence in the same way as men during sex due to the more internalized nature of her orgasm. Though female Daoists still had guidance around the most efficient manner to engage in sexual intercourse in order to work with their essence, the level of restriction was not as high. Instead women need to learn to refine the process of menstruation by aligning their energetic cycles with the phases of the moon. Once this foundation practice has successfully been worked with it will ensure a solid foundation upon which to further develop.
This puts the emphasis for women’s health upon learning how to do several things. This is because these are all aspects of feminine life and nature which have a direct effect upon the strength of their vital essence:
- Women must learn to regulate their menstrual cycle in order to avoid unnecessary loss of essence each month
- Women should learn how to work with the energetic cycles of their conception meridian which runs up the front of the body. It is this energetic pathway which assists in the extraction of essence from the menstrual blood back up towards their Heart-centre
- Women must learn how to work with the energy of the Heart as this governs the nature of their essence. Women need to learn how to express their creativity in a healthy manner and express the energy of the Heart in all things
- The Daoist teachings include a whole pantheon of teachings on the nature of healthy living and these teachings are integrated into the Daoist path
The first ‘mission’ for any woman engaging with the Daoist path of cultivation is learning about the nature of feminine essence, how it flows and how it can be refined. If this foundation is not built then progress along the path will be weak.