Friday, February 10, 2012
Zhan Zhuang - Wuji Posture
Taiji and Wuji are terms that have roots in Chinese Cosmogony. Taiji is itself rooted in Taoist concepts that signify the origin of the duality of existence as manifested from the void (Wuji). Taiji is the mother of Yin and Yang.
This whole concept is a clue to the posture to be adopted; to be formless with absolutely nothing happening, physically, mentally, emotionally with a quiet spirit.
The foundation is in the lower limbs, the feet should be parallel, shoulder width and support the ankle. In turn the ankles will rest directly under the tibia and fibula which in turn support the knee and femur. The knees should be gently pushed out as if a large balloon was being supported and at the same time being inflated. The feet however should be equally weighed from heels to toes and from inside to outside edges. At the same time do not lose sight of the concept of nothing happening.
The trunk should be upright. When dealing with the body one should also address the head. The head should be lifted from the crown (acupoint Baihui), the feeling should be as if a balloon filled with air was lightly drawing the crown up. At the same time one can visualise a weight is lightly drawing down the base of the spine. So the feeling visualised is an opening of the vertebrae of the backbone.
In the Wuji posture because the arms are by the sides it can help to relax the shoulders which is important for eradicating discomfort in the shoulder and upper back. The defining line of the trunk would be plumb from Baihui (DU20) and Huiyin (REN1).
It is important to give attention to the relaxation of the abdomen, the inguinal joints, hip joints and the sacro illiac area. This will help to sink the Qi to Dantian. Visualisation can be applied to the relaxation of the internal organs. The overall aim should be calm and loose without collapsing.
The arm and hand directives in this posture can be simple. They should hang loosely by the sides with a feeling that a pair of rolled socks were being held in the armpits. The hands and fingers should be relaxed and loose, the hand is slightly dish shaped with the fingers pointed to the ground and at the root of each finger a gap the size of a garden pea.
The head position is important and we have already commented on the raising of Baihui. The tongue rests on the roof of the mouth connecting the two governing vessels, Du and Ren. The eyes must remain relaxed and look directly ahead; alternatively they can be averted down. When the eyes are averted take care that the head remains lifted. This care with the head should also apply when we lift the crown point. It's a common fault with beginners, that when instructed to lift the crown they also lift the chin. This will be counter productive to the relaxation of the neck, when lifting the crown one must also tuck the chin.
As in all meditation techniques all students are confronted with their endless discursive mind. Whatever problems this may present are best discussed with an experienced instructor. With more practice the chattering mind can lose some impetus and the student will adapt his or her approach over a suitable period of time. Remember the instruction to do nothing can be applied on all levels of being.
Breathing should be performed quietly through the nose keeping it simple, warm and friendly. The accent is on being natural and treating yourself gently. The respiration should be deep and slow but this should arrive naturally and never forcefully. Remember that any mental effort to govern the breath will be counter productive to some overall relaxation. It is permissable and practical to be attentive to the flow of breath even to count them as an aid to meditation.