What is Cultivation
Cultivation is a process of self-improvement to strive towards your greatest potential. Cultivation is a core part of Taoism, and many different cultivation traditions can be found in China. This is why Qi Gong, Kung Fu, TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine), Herbalism, Acupuncture, Meditation, and so many other practices are associated with Taoism. No single tradition can capture a complete cultivation practice.
Part one is a high-level overview to show the layers and complexity of cultivation.
Where Do I Learn Cultivation
I do teach life cultivation techniques to help people have a stronger and longer life. Awakening Dragon Taoism takes an open approach to self-improvement. Cultivation is a personal process, where it’s the responsibility of the individual to assemble up a set of practices that matches their nature. It’s acceptable to find teachers to go deeper and optimize the various practices you do explore. Many of the teachers are reclusive and have private lives to maintain their cultivation lifestyle. Part of your practice then becomes learning how to find teachers. In the search for instructors, you will discover that not every mentor is human. For example, a walk along a river could teach you many vital insights for your practice. In cultivation, you learn from living, from our mistakes, our victories, and the entire world.
Cultivation is a many-layered process in improving how you live. You build up a combination of practices that expands your life over time rather than limit your life to fit a single practice.
What are the Elements of Cultivation
The goal of being true to yourself.
Taoism teaches a person to shape and be in control of their life story. The core of your cultivation practice is to both reinforce and expand your life story.
If you cultivate your life towards being something you are not, you will destroy yourself. Before you start a serious cultivation practice, you have to take time to understand your essence and life goals.
Cultivation is to strive in the improvement of oneself towards your goals. It’s possible to have multiple goals.
- Some of your objectives could be instinctual (having a child).
- Some of your goals could be societal (Having a larger family).
- Some of your goals could be from your family (Uphold the family name).
- Some of your goals could be from your experiences (To beat a rival).
- Some of the goals could be personal.
- Some of your goals will be false goals that you were fooled into holding for another person.
There is no limit to how many goals will be plastered to your life. Don’t be limited by your goals, but dance with them and continuously expand out your more meaningful goals.
Part of your cultivation technique will be to weed out contradictory or harmful goals. Strive to release goals that truly aren’t yours or contradict your deeper, more personal goals over time. If you have too many goals, you will lose focus; if you have too few goals, you will not have resilience.
Personal Maintenance and Growth
A human being has many layers of support systems, instincts, truths, stories, and relationships. A cultivation practice cannot only focus on one thing. For example: if our body is weak, our mind won’t have enough energy to support our life story.
A cultivation practice has eight components to support our nature and the goals we strive towards in life.
The Sub Components of cultivation
If we don’t use and push against our life, our life degrades. Exercise isn’t merely for the body. In our cultivation practice: exercise is the push to maintain our body, mind, and spirit. We also will need both static and movement-based exercise routines.
In a pain phobic culture, everyone blunders into problems rather than use their awareness to navigate and grow around their challenges.
If the whole purpose of cultivation is to grow, if you don’t implement life improvements, you cannot grow. It isn’t uncommon for people to only think about cultivation and then do nothing. You actively have to shift your lifestyle to match your cultivation technique. Implement life changes, then learn and improve upon those lifestyle choices.
For example, many people use Facebook to connect to the world. Yet reading a news feed isn’t a proactive lifestyle. There is no action that follows your daily reading on Facebook. If you are cultivating and reading Facebook, you would have to choose proactive steps based on what you have learned on Facebook. Ask yourself how many actions you have taken based on reading Facebook? If you have read Facebook for a month and made no lifestyle improvements based on that time spent, then Facebook has been a waste of your life for the last month.
Diet & Nutrition
We are what we eat. Diet and finding the right balance of nutritional needs are always part of cultivation practice.
Simple diets and fasting are often part of cultivation. In the last six months, I have been using intermittent fasting as part of my cultivation, and the health benefits and improvement to my personal life have been huge.
Balancing out your nature.
Instead of thinking this means to attain perfect balance, rephrase this to say, don’t tear yourself apart while improving your life.
Think about a washing machine with an out of balance load. A load out of balance will tear apart the washing machine. We are no different in how we live. While we work against problems, we are also allowed to re-balance our life as we do work against difficulties.
Expanding your senses and perception
We have more than five senses, and there is more in the world to interact with than you can imagine. Unless you develop your senses, you will have a limited life.
Energy work often consists of breathing techniques and improving your energetic state.
If we don’t maintain our practices, we slip back into disrepair over time.
It’s not possible to do all eight components at once. For instance, some days, you might focus on pushing your exercise practice to new highs while other days, you will focus on maintenance for healing purposes.
Over time as you gain mastery of your cultivation practice, you will be able to expand the number of cultivation techniques you overlap at once.
How to Teach Cultivation
I have been teaching cultivation practices for 20 years now. Due to the diverse and large number of practices that can be rolled into cultivation, it can feel overwhelming to learn.
The first step to learning cultivation is not to learn cultivation. You help a person solve the more critical problems they have in their life.
You cannot teach cultivation to a person who is in survival mode. The first step is getting a person out of survival mode. As you help fix a person’s problems in life, it frees up energy and resources to then improve a person’s life.
As you use various healing, exercise, and meditation practices to fix a person’s life, they are also learning components that they can later roll into their own cultivation practice.
The final two-thirds of this article is available to read on Patreon.