Greetings. I can’t tell you how much I am enjoying this. I appreciate those of you who contact me to offer comments. Stay tuned for the next series.
Base of Support
Tai Chi Chuan uses standing postures for meditation. Standing meditation requires a firm and solid base of support. When teaching standing to students, I use the analogy of a pyramid. There is no way the pyramid is going to topple over. So I have students use a shoulder width stance for general meditation. Same idea for Tai Chi Chuan forms, and push hands – a solid base. I ask students what would happen if you stood the pyramid on its top. What would happen? They answer it would topple over. Simple.
Yesterday when thinking about standing, I had a different thought, one that had never occurred to me before. If I turn the pyramid upside down, there is one place that the force of gravity will allow it to remain upright, and really only one. It must be perfectly straight so gravity pulls it right down into the top. If it is tilted in any way, it will topple. So a smaller base might work if the person is completely straight. This is the posture I use for “Mountain Top Stance”. Many students complain about this stance, saying it is hard to balance on this tight base. I know it is. But I will talk more about this in a later email.
Next, I had the thought that a pyramid that is turned on its top could remain upright even if it is tilted. How? If we were to use cables or props to hold it in place. So when standing, one can stand slightly tilted, but what that requires is the connective tissues of the body to be like cables, and work to hold the body from falling. And that holding is what we are trying to eliminate by our standing practice. For the mind to be free, we need to eliminate tension. So the bottom line for standing is to use a shoulder width stance and relax into the base. More later.