The following teaching on The WuJi Posture and Structural Integrity comes from a workshop that Master Donald Rubbo taught on The Universal Post Standing Meditation:
As students arrive for the workshop, Sifu is singing songs of realization. . .
“. . .We are also going to be speaking about The Mnemonic of the Thirteen Movements of Tai Chi Chuan and how they relate to stillness practice, because even though you are still doesn’t mean there is no movement. There is movement in stillness, and stillness in movement. Remember, even the movement of the chi is perfectly pure. It’s not strong, it’s not non-existent, it’s not existent. So, don’t seek to have something. Allow what is occurring to happen and then you will gradually develop awareness. . .Mindfulness will develop and eventually wisdom will arise. . .
“Many years ago, Bing Gong was teaching one of my younger kung fu brothers the Universal Post Standing Meditation. My younger kung fu brother was eager and listened very closely to Bing’s words:
“If you stand, you will attain enlightenment by doing this posture.”
“About two years ago, my younger kung fu brother came to visit me and he was quite upset about Bing having given him this teaching, and said, “Bing told me if I stood, I would become enlightened.”
“So, he had doubt in his teacher and he had doubt in the art. He stood for years with a distracted mind, and then he gave up and didn’t practice any more.
“Well, he was looking for enlightenment, but you are not going to achieve enlightenment in a day, unless you have the karma to achieve it in a day. Most of us are not born with that kind of blessing, and if we are born with that kind of blessing we probably don’t need the Standing meditation to acquire that level of realization. . .
“Unfortunately, he missed the whole point, and I thought it was a beautiful teaching that he came and gave me about the impatience of a student. It’s not the inadequacies of the teacher—the teacher gave the student what would give him the skills. . .if the student is diligent and practices, he will gain the fruits of the practice. If, however, he approaches the practice with doubt about the practice, or doubt about the transmitter of the practice, then the student cuts off the root. No teacher; no root. So always keep your teacher close. This does not fulfill my ego as a teacher; it helps you. If you keep that kind of heart, it doesn’t matter the distance or where you are in the world—your mind and your teacher’s mind are one.
“Now we are going to transition into the Universal Post Practice. . . I’m going to give you the actual transmission of this form, then I’m going to talk about structural integrity. We talked about this at class this morning–it is an important teaching on how to overcome obstacles in one’s life. I’m not going to go too deeply into that, but for those who weren’t there, I’m going to give a little bit–there is no separation between that practice and this . . .
“Standing meditation came out of the Hsing Yi tradition. This practice that you are going to learn today came out of Hsing Yi; the root is in Hsing Yi. Hsing Yi Chuan – Yi Chuan. Mind/Body Boxing – Mind Boxing—no body. The body is perfectly pure.
“The Universal Post practice is before Yi Chuan. Hsing Yi is very old, a very old tradition: older than Tai Chi, older than Bagua. Hsing Yi came out of the tradition of Five Element Theory and Taoist Arts–Taoist wisdom–and it came out of the Twelve Animals that make up the twelve months of the Cosmology (Chinese calendar). . . This has to do with directions, just like Primordial Qigong. . .so keep these things in mind. . .
“So now, STRUCTURE.
“We always want to start in WuJi. From this very basic stance, if I can find my structural integrity, I can do anything.
(Sifu moves into the Wuji posture) “So, if I am observing my body and I can feel—as good as this posture is right now—I can feel all kinds of tension that should not be present. If I can feel my cervical region and my chin is a little elevated, this small amount [of being out of alignment] leads to other things that will have tension. So, I have to have awareness first. If I start off trying to find my posture and my mind is too busy seeking, and asking: what am I looking for? I won’t be able to find it. So, I need to be still and breathe. Quiet my mind; observe my body; feel where the weight is; feel where there’s tension; feel where there’s collapse; feel where there’s excess.
“Then I make minor adjustments along the way. I’m going to start at the top because it’s easier to start at the top and work down. I notice that my head is off: so I’m going to draw my chin in and raise the crown of my head up, as if the crown were suspended from above—just doing that corrected four other issues. So I don’t have to spend a lot of time correcting them, because that one little thing adjusted me. But I want to be mindful that the adjustments are appropriate and not too much, not too little. You see how this is affecting not only my physical body, but if you look in my eyes you see the shen or spirit. The eyes are the windows to the soul. See how much more alert they are? I’m not making this happen, I’m not trying to show myself more alert; this is just from the subtle adjustments. (Sifu adjusts his posture) “This is: I’m asleep. This is: I have awakened. Simple.”
“Now, I know that I want to give my body a little space, because my armpits are a little crowded. So, I’m just going to expand them out a little bit, but not so I wind up like a gunslinger. Not that big, I just want to give myself a little space so I open my armpits slightly. Now, I want to be aware if there’s tension in my shoulders. A lot of people hold tension in their shoulders and a sense of constriction. . . release that constriction and open. Now, I want you to go down to the thoracic region and chest. If my arms are opened appropriately, my shoulders are sinking down, my shoulder blades are opened up (out from the spine)—they won’t be pinching back. If they’re pinching back, my chest is going to bow forward. So I have to have this slightly-rounded softness in the chest, and the sense that it is sinking down. This is all information most of you have received.
“Now, my abdomen. In the Mnemonic they talk about having an abdomen that is free of obstructions/impurities. For instance: Belching lets go of any impurities.
“I then want to relax the abdomen. When I relax it, all of a sudden my chi has moved down where it is supposed to be. So the abdomen has to be free of obstruction. Obstructions can be physical tension; obstructions can be caused by bad food, impurities, emotions–these are all forms of congestion. . .
“Now I’m going to talk about the lower back. The sacral lumbar region has a natural curve—which is good—but what we want to do is access the channel of energy that comes up and down the spine. The Governing channel ascends chi up the spine and the chi circulates all the way from the perineum to the roof of the mouth. So, in order for me to create the optimum condition for chi to flow I have to release any tension. This natural curve that we have actually slows down the flow of chi. This natural curve can be considered like a regulator: if I turn the faucet on a little bit, there’s a little bit of energy or water, and if I turn the faucet on all the way, there is a larger amount. So this pelvic tuck activates a pump that makes not only the chi ascend through the governing channel, but actually makes the cerebral spinal fluid ascend. When the brain is being nourished by fresh cerebral spinal fluid, one has a real sense of well-being. When it is diminished, we have clouded senses and we can’t concentrate. Our mind is darting about from thought to thought and we don’t feel centered. So, we want to use this physical structure to help acquire a stable mind. There are multiple purposes, but this is the main one.
“Now, I roll my pelvis slightly forward to activate that cerebral pump as well as the natural flow of chi up the governing channel. The abdomen is soft and free of obstructions, the back is flat and the pelvis is rolled under, the armpits are gently open. Now, the legs: I want to have my thighs not completely engaged. So, if I’m straight legged, I am going to be engaged in places I don’t want to be engaged. This straight-legged posture actually will create muscular tension and then the chi cannot flow through these channels. So, I want to soften my knees—I don’t want to sit down here (bent)—I just want to soften my knees. Then relax the quadriceps and the hamstrings. The gluteus maximus I want to be relaxed, not tense, not engaged. The lower orifices should be sealed. Sealed does not mean plucked up. Plucked up changes the nature. Seal is so the chi will not flow out. The writings say: Seal the anus if you are a man. Seal the vaginal area and the anus if you are a woman.
“So, I have freed my legs; there are no obstructions, they’re relaxed. My knees are not collapsed. This is very important: this is the next big joint in the body where we have to be conscious of not losing energy—it is a contained hydraulic system. But if there is a leak due to injury or lack of awareness, the structure can make things collapse. (Sifu demonstrates) Let’s say my thighs rotate in just a small amount—can you see what happens? What is collapsed and what is excessive? Can you tell me? So this side has become collapsed and therefore has become excessive and is bearing too much weight. And it has to perform more than the other side. So, I lose consciousness of the outer and am hyper-aware of the inner. I want inner-outer to be even–if I can do this and be mindful of the back of the knee being open.
“Don’t misunderstand. Do not stand with collapsed knees. You will see people do standing like this (Sifu demonstrates collapsed knees—like a car tire that is deflated), and I guarantee you if they continue in this way they will ruin their knees. It’s just a matter of time. We need the fluid pressure. We need the space. Think about gardening: if I plant seeds way too close together, nothing’s going to flourish and grow. If I give each seed enough space, the potential is there for each to mature and grow to it’s full potential. The same thing is true for the space within the knees. The ankles also have to have this awareness.
A student asks a question: “I guess I’m not understanding what you mean by “space” when you’re putting pressure on it.”
“We have a ball—think about a ball. If the ball has air in it and we press on it, it doesn’t collapse. It has springiness, right? So, think of a round ball of energy between your joints—now we’re getting into the spiraling energy body—but there is a ball of energy like that. Inside the ball there are fluids. The body has these natural fluids between the joints and hopefully they’re not leaking out. They start leaking out due to all kinds of issues: structural alignment, disease setting into the joints due to misalignment for a long period of time—wearing down of the joints. (Sifu demonstrates again) Now I have a leak. It’s no longer a contained vessel anymore. Now there’s a space, and the pressure that is inside pushes out this little hole—like the slow leak in a tire. So, the longer I stand with this loss of integrity of structure, the more I collapse. . .the more I collapse. . .the more I collapse, etc.
“This is not mindful practice. This is only the awareness of that bodily sensation, and it is also bearing too much pressure on the mind.
“So, when we practice, we want both the mind to be perfectly pure and expansive, and the body standing with integrity of form and structure. Then, we can stand for an hour and there’s nothing that will distract us. No distracting sensations will get in the way because my structure is supported. There is no discomfort when you do this properly.
“The issue is: how to learn to do this properly. We always tend to use too much physical effort to try to achieve something. Over-efforting is not going to help you achieve this, but we let beginners do over-efforting because there is a stage when the student gives up: “Why is he having me do this?” “I’m so uncomfortable!” The student actually becomes enraged that the teacher is not letting him put his arms down. “Keep them up,” the teacher says. After a while, you’re really mad and ready to curse. Well now your mind is so fixated on the bodily sensations that they are no longer perfectly pure. You exhaust yourself.
“So, there’s a point where you just can’t bear it anymore and you give up the struggle. You move from the tension of the rage and struggle to the relaxation of tension, (Sifu demonstrates the release of tension into a relaxed posture) and you say, “Oh, that’s easy. I was struggling. Not with my teacher, actually, but with myself.”
“Hopefully this is a stage of awakening when this happens, and you are not still fixated upon the struggle and directing it at the teacher, unlike my kung fu brother who acquired no skill after many years of practice. So, he made me smile really big when he told me the story. Not out of joy that he didn’t get the skill—I felt bad that he didn’t learn—he made me smile because he gave me a teaching that without the proper method of practice, it doesn’t matter how diligent, you will get nothing. Many people go out and stand for hours and get nothing. My job as a good teacher is to teach you how to do it properly, with the right motivation, the right intention, the right energy, and the right structure. If you put all these ingredients together, you will gain the result. You’ll get it and it won’t take you years to acquire skill. Then you’ll have years of joy in practice, because you’ll be attaining a high level of realization. . .”
© 2010 Elizabeth Meloney—All rights reserved.