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Considered from an integrated and holistic perspective, Daoist practice (xiudao 修道) consists of cosmology, theology, observation, practice principles and guidelines, meditation, health and longevity practices, ethics, dietetics, scripture study, seasonal attunement, geomancy, and ritual. This directly relates to traditional Daoist culture. There are also various models of practice and attainment that emerge through the careful consideration of the entire breadth of the Daoist religious tradition. In terms of traditional models of Daoist practice, one may identify at least the following: quietistic, ritualistic, cosmological, exorcistic, behavioral/ethical, mediumistic/shamanic, dietetical, ascetical, literary/artistic, alchemical, meditative, hermeneutical, medical, mystical, syncretistic, and so forth. Of these, meditation, including internal alchemy (neidan 内丹), and ritual have been the dominant forms of religious practice throughout Daoist history.

 

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Diagram on the Child’s Manifest Form

From the Seventeenth Century Xingming guizhi 性命圭旨

 

From a Daoist perspective, alignment with the Dao is rooted in Daoist practice, and Daoist practice cannot be reduced to Daoist techniques. It is possible to practice “Daoist methods” in a non-Daoist way. Daoist practices absent of Daoist principles and extracted from a Daoist religious context may be beneficial, but they are beneficial in a different way than if undertaken within that context, within Daoist communities and Daoist places.

 

For a specific presentation see Contours of Practice at the Daoist Foundation.

 

Further Reading: Handbooks for Daoist Practice/Louis Komjathy; Taoist Meditation and Longevity Techniques/Livia Kohn (ed.); The Taoist Manual/Brock Silvers.

 

See also Daoyin, Meditation, Ritual, and Yangsheng.