Students of meditation (both standing and seated, the latter with or without folded legs) can appreciate the requirement of being relaxed. In a previous post "Are you on depression stance?", I talked about the difference between relaxed and depressed, as far as stance is concerned. The gist of the matter is: "relaxed but not collapsed (松而不懈)". That applies to most of the body parts or structure.
For certain parts of the body, some degree of tightness is actually required. The most important part being the stretched hands, that should be maintained in a stretched manner throughout the practice, and in actual fact, a totally relaxed pair of hands signals to the brain that the practice session is over.
In order for chi to be created and to be spread throughout the body (the whole objective of chi-meditative practice), a gradient must be created, a stretched part (hands for example) and a relaxed body. The requirement for the body is "relaxed but not collapsed" (松而不懈), for the stretched parts (like the stretched hands) it is "stretched but not being stiff" (緊而不僵).
In the beginning, it is the hands that are stretched, when a practitioner progresses, the feet will be stretched, as well as some selected points along the chi-paths. The later stretched points are usually referred to points of meditation. In Taoist yoga, it is sometimes called bathing (沐浴), without the practice of bathing, it is rather difficult to guide chi to flow smoothing along the micro-cosmic path.
It is interesting to note that in zhan zhuang practice of Master Wang XianZhai 王薌斎, in advanced level, point mediation is used in muscles conditioning, in essence it is two point meditation with muscle contractions between (interested reader can refer to Da ChengQuan 大成拳 by Master Wang's student: Yu YongNian 于永年。) Some Wu-style master also use point-meditation to form a strong body structure to execute the Tai-chi Eight method (太極八法), these techniques formally have been treated as "top secret". I shall discuss the subject of point meditation in more details in future posts.