Neidan | Internal Cultivation
WHAT IS NEIDAN?
Nèidān (内丹) is usually translated as ‘internal alchemy’ and refers to the inner process of cultivation.
Neidan (pronounce: Neigh-Don) is comprised of the two characters Nèi (内), meaning ‘inner’ and Dān (丹), which translates as ‘cinnabar.’ The latter references a mineral substance of great cultural significance and was utilized in schools of metallurgical alchemy.
The esoteric practices of Neidan cutlivation were often encoded in the language of Wàidān (外丹— external alchemy). The usage of the character Dān (丹) alludes to this process, suggesting a method of refinement through cultivation.
Sometimes separated as Nei Dan, this term also shares etymological significance with the terms Nèigōng (内功: internal skill) and Dāntián (丹田: cinnabar field—denoting places within the body where vital Qi, or energy, naturally accumulates).
Neidan Training consists of a range of physical, mental, and spiritual Daoist practices designed to promote longevity and immortality.
The Daoist concept of immortality is often misconstrued by laypersons and debated by scholars. While practices and understanding vary, in the present context, immortality usually refers to the practitioner’s consciousness transcending the limitations and transitory life-cycle of the physical body. Longevity is sought for the purpose of having the lifespan necessary to achieve ‘immortality.’
The process of Nèidānshù (内丹术), or Neidan training methodology, is a highly refined and involved practice. The practices are generally quite specific in nature but often obscured in archaic allusion, requiring a knowledgeable teacher to offer guidance.
Misunderstanding in translation and nomenclature has sent many seekers down erroneous and tangential pathways in search of alchemical treasure.
Practices are exacting and sequential in nature—usually beginning with the cultivation of Qi, or vital energy. Proper cultivation through Qigong practice requires both knowledge and proficiency of the external practices of Wàigōng (外功) and the internal practices of Nèigōng (内功). Once sufficient resource has been internally gathered, then one can begin advanced Neidan training.
Neidan may be employed as a method to increase and sustainably maintain personal energy and vitality. It is for this reason that all students of our Medical Qigong Certification program are introduced to foundational Neidan techniques.
The curriculum at Red Thread is structured around the core principles of Neidan—how far this opportunity is explored and experienced is up to the proclivity of each individual student.