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.
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.