‘Waking from Drunkeness on a Spring Day’, so begins a famous poem by the renowned Daoist poet, Li Bai, who was part of the group of Chinese scholars known as the ‘Eight Immortals of the Wine Cup’. It was said of Li Bai, that plenty of people wrote more poems than him, but no one wrote more poems about wine than he did!Li Bai, like his fellow poets, was exploring the Daoist concept of ‘forgetfulness’ via states of intoxication. Definitely my kind of people! However,as contemporary scholars have pointed out, in their poetry the word ‘drunk’rather than meaning being sloshed in a bar somewhere, also meant‘being carried away from one’s normal preoccupations’. As we arrive at 7pm-9pm in the mystical chi-cycle, this is exactly what we want to be doing. We want to ‘forget’both the day in the acquired world and our acquired self, and immersion in a creative pursuit, like poetry, is a great way to do this.
We are always either ‘acquired’ or ‘cosmic’, there is nothing in between. So the idea of ‘losing’(forgetting) your acquired self in creativity is equally about ‘finding’(remembering) your cosmic self. As soon as I mention being creative to clients though, most immediately say that they can’t draw or sing or whatever. But you don’t have to whip up a watercolour or write odes to wine, there’s plenty of amazing software for creating music, film or art projects. I mess round with making electronic music every night and it takes me right away from everything, I don’t even notice time passing. But whatever you do now needs to be easy and entertaining. This is not the time to be practicing scales, learning new programs, doing night classes, or anything that requires concentration because that means you are engaging with yang energies in a yin phase of the day and, as we all know by now, that’s a big mystical chi-cycle no no.Fierce concentration belongs in the morning, if you do this in the evening you’re no longer aligned and,accordingly, are heading from potential happiness to misery. Yin, or sitting back, really needs to be respected now.
Forgetting your acquired self is distinctly different from mundane forgetting – like not remembering where the car keys are (which is an organ deficiency) – but if you’ve ever had sex, you know what mystical ‘forgetting’feels like. As sexual feelings intensify the dramas of the day, external concerns and pretty much everything else is gone. It becomes all about chi and internal sensations. Sex is also an example of ‘spontaneous self-becoming’ another Daoist aim. You’re not thinking ‘hmm, now I need move my leg two inches to the right, and my left arm up above my head’. You are completely spontaneous. You could say the Daoist lifestyle actually hinges aroundrecapturing aspects of the sexual experience. Not only ‘forgetting’and ‘spontaneous self-becoming’but the passionate unleashing of the creative forces.And 7pm – 9pm (or anywhere from 5pm – when cosmic chi fires up your kidneys which store your sexual energy) is a good time for sex.
Now, if you happen to be one of the yang type readers, who are thinking “oh great, I can have sex every day instead of doing macrame”, think again. Having a healthy sex life is very important in Chinese medicine. ’Healthy’means not only at the right time but also the right amount as too much can deplete your chi but not enough sex can drain your spirit. How much is beneficial is different for everyone, depending on factors including your constitutional type, age and health. You don’t have to get caught up in worrying about this though because following the chi-cycle lifestyle (in conjunction with a medicinal diet, Chinese herbs and treatment) sensitises you to the forces of yin and yang, so you have the tools to manage the yang drive for excessive sex. It also builds chi, thus naturally increasing desire for those with low libido (which is just as common as excess desire these days). But basically, unless you’re a yang teenager, sex every day is not considered beneficial.
This is the mystical chi-cycle we are looking at here, and in this context we are also focussing on mystical health, so when you do have sex you want to be working towards the kind of sexual practices that increase your share in Dao. Just as some sexual activities can deplete chi (yang sex or using sex purely for tension release) others can generate chi. For example (and I’m just referring to men here) if you aim to go beyond physical excitement or the yang urge for release and start in a surrender mode (a yin mode), when yin and yang come together (pun intended) it can generate chi. Afterwards you’ll feel elevated rather than feeling worse, used or ashamed (thatold ‘morning after the one-night-stand’feeling). But the objective of the mystical chi-cycle is to take everything up a notch, to go beyond elevation and into accessing cosmic chi during sex. Merging with the mystical in this way is a truly mind-blowing experience. Forget the earth moving: you’ll feel the cosmos move!
But you can’t have sex every day, and you might run out of ideas for poems or not have an opportunity for creativity, so another ‘forgetting’option is to do some switch-off yoga (so long as it effortless).Also,if 5pm – 7pm was not a good time to do that trippy meditation covered in the previous article, this is still a good time for that, as meditation is definitely something you can lose /find yourself in. But just because we are aiming for states of mystical intoxication, it doesn’t mean we can’t also pursue the more mundane strategies for forgetting, like wine and TV. Everything has its place in the chi-cycle. It’s all about keeping a foot in both the physical and the mystical. Taking 15 or 20 minutes to forget mystically, leaves plenty of time to forget more mundanely as well. But you need the combination of the two.
Plenty of people hit the bottle at this time to try and forget the stresses of the day in the acquired world purely through alcohol. This is a method of forgetting, but it’s not a sustainable one. Once your intake reaches a certain level, it can prevent you from having a deep refreshing, liver-cleansing sleep (if you need alcohol to sleep it’s a yang imbalance which I covered in article 5). You wake with that hangover feeling which will make getting up early to catch the next mystical chi-cycle more difficult. Ultimately, it can set a reverse-cycle in train which will make you forget your cosmic self rather than your acquired self.
TV is another useful device to forget. I know many people who are into alternative health lifestyles consciously avoid TV, but personally I find an hour of TV in the evening beneficial. It’s as if you can hand over and let someone else do the work for a while. You have to pick viewing material that works for you though. I watch TV shows (on DVD) that have a gripping story (so I get ‘lost’in it) and intense characters in intense situations but are low violence. An hour-long episodeof intensity and resolution, deflects some of the intensity of my own day. But, as with alcohol, depending purely on TV to take you away and help you forget the dramas of the day won’t work. Too much TV is over-stimulating and, before you know it you’re back into yang territory (a recent study found that children lost 7 minutes of sleep at night for every hour of TV they watched during the day).
7pm – 9pm is also the best time for an evening meal, for mystical munchies, or food that will support yin and build your share in Dao. Warm and nourishing is the way to go. I’ve now become addicted to home-cooked soups (your spleen will love you for this). Avoid wheat and sugar in the evening, at all costs. These are yang, heat-inducing and will disconnect you from your cosmic self. I got a real reminder of this recently when, due to string of circumstances including an entire town losing power for the morning, I ended up eating white bread with jam for breakfast. My connection with my internal world, the orbs and organs and chi and mysteries of the universe, was instantly cut-off. Hard to believe that an ex-speed addict would ever be concerned about bread and jam (that would have been health-food for me back in the day),but the effect was so obvious that I have to mention it. I cooked a lunch, using five element balancing ingredients, to remedy the effects, but in the evening you don’t have the opportunity to have another meal to correct a chi-sucking meal before bed. Avoid sweet deserts, would be my advice. Sugar feeds your acquired self and having it in the evening sabotages the mystical processes that are now underway.
Cosmic chi has moved to your pericardium, the protector of your heart (the emperor). Your orbs, that spark of divine consciousness in your organs, want you to be gliding internally with yin and feeling that you’ve come home, that you are safe, snug, nurtured, true to yourself. So everything is in place for them to facilitate the smooth astral launch of your soul. Aligning with each of the eight phases of the cycle that I have been looking at in these articles, offers different strategies throughout the day to remember our true nature, and our purpose, so that this can happen. Paradoxically, forgetfulness is how we remember now. The Pericardium, is like the membrane between the acquired and the cosmic, and forgetfulness is the key to open this destiny gateway to the cosmic self. I’ve used being lost in creativity and sex here as examples of the feeling of forgetfulness, but this is a skill that you can consciously develop. Ultimately it becomes instinctive then, rather than forgetting the stress of the day you are forgetting to be prejudiced, judgmental, opinionated, needy or emotional, and when you see other people, you just see another beautiful soul. This is a lifelong journey though so take it step by step. Meanwhile our mantra for this time of day: ‘the acquired world: just forget about it!’