Monday Morning Tai Chi Training Tip # 309
Sit Up Straight
Master Subramuniya, my first meditation teacher and guru, made the statement, “You can never be depressed if you can sit up straight.” At first I didn’t understand this idea and sort of poo-pooed it, yet I can say now that I fully agree him. It fits perfectly with the practical philosophy of the internal arts.
In Tai Chi we have the concept of Jing, Chi, Shen, with these energies more or less corresponding to the physical, emotional, and spiritual. Jing is heavy and sinks and is stored in the lower dantien (just a bit lower than the belly button), Chi is neutral and can move either up or down. It is stored in the middle dantien near the heart. And Shen is light and rises. It is centered in the upper dantien, between the eyebrows.
When we feel unhappy, depressed, or “down”, our energy is low, and what energy we do have tends to sink to our lowest energy centers to help us just survive. Notice the posture of someone who is depressed – bowed, head hanging, feet shuffling. When we feel good, happy, excited, “up”, our energy flows upward to the highest centers, opening us to creative ideas and cosmic thoughts. We are able to move outside ourselves. The posture of this person is erect, the step is bouncy and light.
So what Master Subramuniya was saying is that by sitting up straight, you allow the energy to move upward, and as the energy moves upward, you feel better. It is the same idea in the internal arts. We work with the idea of converting Jing to Chi and Chi to Shen, so we can reach the highest levels of our art. Sit up straight, stand up straight, and you will be stimulating your energy to move upwards, thereby allowing you to function in your highest creative energy centers.
A good partner exercise to play with this idea. Stand facing your partner, an arms distance away. Hopefully the partner is around your same height or even taller. Gaze at his or her face. Now imagine your consciousness rises up your spine, and sits a couple of feet above the crown of your head. You are now gazing down at the partner. Try it out and see how you feel. One person at a time works best.