"Heavenly Streams" is an in-depth, to-the-point, factual Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) / Daoist Arts textbook.
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About the contents of the book:
From the beginning "Heavenly Streams" provided a clear and easy-to-understand look at TCM principles and theory, including: - a thorough explanation of the macrocosm/microcosm principle, - the Three Treasures (Qi, Shen & Jing), - Yin and Yang, - the five spiritual lights, - the five elements, - body meridians and points, - external pathogenic factors (Damp, Heat, Wind etc), - the Three Heaters / Dan Tien, - the Zang and Fu body organs, - Zang Fu disturbances, - and even a discussion on the Spine.
I would estimate that about 80% of the book is theory; and this is all theory that is pretty essential to know, remember and internalise in order to effectively carry out the remaining 20% of the book which consists predominantly of practical Internal Exercises.
After laying down some groundwork TCM theory, the book goes on to build on this practically by including a small amount of relevant practical Qi Gong exercises* which I really enjoyed, and also meditation-type exercises that train you to direct your Qi using your focus (Yi). These latter exercises were, for me, the exciting part of this book which I haven't personally seen written about anywhere else. I liked how Damo uses his personal experience to give helpful tips to guide you through the exercises.
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About the difficulty level of the exercises:
In my opinion the mental exercises are very advanced - partly because of the amount of theoretical knowledge required to carry them out effectively, and partly because doing the exercises (much like meditation) requires a great deal of practice, patience and time before you (a.) do them correctly and (b.) experience the positive results of doing them correctly. Dedication and perseverance seem crucial to do these Internal exercises in a serious way where results will be seen.
The reward? being able to feel your energetic body (and in some cases "see" it too), helping you understand what's going on (where the imbalances lie), and then being able to re-balance any physical and mental imbalances by simply using directed mental focus and deliberate breathing to do the work. It gives you a way to take responsibility for your own health. Rebalancing physical and mental health aside, there is also the potential reward of general spiritual expansion as you open yourself up to connecting with the Shen and higher levels of consciousness.
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*Note to Readers: I found a youtube video by Damo Mitchell to be helpful in bringing to life the Wu Xing Qi Gong exercises described in the book. I recommend seeking out this video of his to go along with the exercises in Chapter 2. To find the video, search for "Wu Xing Qi Gong" by "Lotus Nei Gong" on youtube.
Having developed an interest in this subject quite recently via martial arts, I do not have a detailed working knowledge of Daoist theory or of the subject matter of this book. I found the content of the book to be well structured, taking the reader through each component of critical foundation theory and practice without assuming / requiring prior technical knowledge. The explanations provided are extremely clear and certainly this book will be very helpful and informative to anyone like myself who doesnt have much background knowledge in the subject.
I would also recommend the book to more experienced / knowledgeable practitioners of chinese medicine and related studies, due to its highly practical approach based on exercises designed to experience the energy system within the body. The book contains very good descriptions and illustrations to guide the reader through these exercises and gives some ideas as to what they can expect to observe for themselves and how to use their observations to diagnose and treat imbalances. Highly recommended!
This book contains a lot of information about Meridian theory and is presented in a very clear and ordered fashion. I especially liked the section on Wu Xing qi gong, which I found usefu and fruitful , not only in my personal practice but also in my class teaching. The emphasis on experiencing the meridians directly is a refeshing and welcome addition to inner energy practice.
With the aid of the Yuan points in this book I can now finally separate out the paths of each meridian. That alone has been worth the price of a library of books to me. The potentials are enormous. Many thanks Damo!
Anybody who is interested in Chinese Medicine, Daoism or internal energy work/cultivation should buy this book. It makes a very difficult and often misunderstood subject much clearer and accessible. The author clearly speaks from experience rather than 'just' an academic understanding (which has its merits); a highly recommended book and one you will come back to time and time again as your own practice develops.
As always a very definitive and very well articulated book explaining everything you wanted to know about connecting with, and changing the quality of the meridians.
The author (Damo Mitchell) is an excellent teacher and an even better person himself. Would definitely recommend this and his previous book (Daoist Nei Gong - The Philosophical Art Of Change) to any person interested in the energetic and spiritual arts of the Daoists.
Could not recommend this enough!! Thank you Damo Mitchell!
A well written (despite Mr Mitchell's fears to the contrary) and easy to follow 'system' for those who have prior knowledge or who are able to study. For those who don't fit into these categories it would be useful as a reference book, each subject/chapter, being carefully written, could be read as a stand-alone, or as part of the integrated 'stream' of thought. I recommend the book after one reading because of the focus of the book. This Mr Mitchell describes as 'connecting with, feeling and adjusting the energy body directly using consciousness'. Exploring and developing the inner environment is one of the great stages of spiritual and/or personal development. In fact there can be little human development without this. Tai chi tutors come up with many reasons why students discontinue training but the main one is concentration. Concentration becomes more difficult as habitual patterns become stronger in our everyday lives. To begin with this Taichi concentration is tiring, though paradoxically it becomes a great strength opening the door to awareness and eventually a rounded consciousness. Again, the book describes a system, some of which will be different to systems already learned but at first reading any rate the system appears to be rounded in itself. The writing is very tight with little waste and the content is easy to follow. I expect to learn much from this book and as a student I would recommend it for study also. Well done Mr Mitchell