Monday, March 11, 2013

To move or not to move in zhan zhuang

In the practice of zhan zhuang or standing meditation, there seems to be conflicting recommendations. For example, in the issue of "to move or not to move". Practitioners find it puzzling. So much so, some informed commentators opined that there are different systems. To this controversy, my answer is yes and no: depending on your particular training stage and the purpose of your particular training session. Here is my explanation:

In beginning zhan zhuang, it is always point-stretched-body-relax (點緊身松). Points mean peripherals, and practically mean our stretched hands and fingers. Chi (or Qi) will be generated at the points, with a relaxed body, our natural breathing mechanism will gently chi-connect our stretched points to our torso, always assuming a meditative mind-set between asleep and waking up and a focused mind on the subject matter of chi-transmission which appears very subtly. Here, one must maintain one's non-movement.

I find it interesting here to compare the requirement above with the core practice requirement of Pilates. Pilates movement (no equipment type) always stresses on softening our peripherals and concentrating on contracting our powerhouse (which essentially means activating our prosaic muscles using our breathing mechanism). It is just the opposite of the zhan zhaung requirement explained above.

When a practitioner progresses to a certain stage, nano-movement will actually be beneficial to one's practice. Here the requirement has some similarity with Pilates. The stretched muscles change from our peripherals to our core (or powerhouse). In zhan zhuang, a chi-gradient needs to be set up: with close to zero at peripherals and maximum at the core. It is essential to set a smooth gradient here.

When such a chi gradient is set by our mind (or mind-body), our core will be used to execute nano-movements at the peripherals (while always maintaining a chi-gradient). The objective is to connect chi between the core and the peripherals, working opposite direction to the non-movement stage. The ultimate training objective is muscles-as-one: which can better be trained using chi movement from both directions, or through non-movement together nano-movement, at different training sessions.

Zhan zhuang with nano-movement

No comments:

Post a Comment

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...