Lesson Five of Nine Lessons on Daoist Meditation: Wu Ji Meditation – Relaxation and Letting Go.
In this lesson, we will look at the concept of letting go, unbinding and relaxing the body mentally and physically – an important part of Daoist Meditation practices. Qi/Breath flows more easily when the body is relaxed. Tight, tense muscles and joints that are not aligned inhibit the flow of Qi/Breath and cause it to block. Since the movements of the Qi/Breath are equivalent to the movements of the mind – to thoughts and emotions – if the Qi/Breath stops or blocks, the mind also stops and blocks, or fixates.
The reverse is also true. If the mind fixes itself on a thought or emotion, this fixation upsets the smooth flow of the Qi/Breath. When the Qi/Breath moves smoothly, thoughts and emotions come and go smoothly, like clouds that momentarily block the sun’s light only to pass on. Aligning the body helps the Qi/Breath to move freely. When the body is aligned and the flow of the Qi/Breath is uninterrupted, then the mind will be stable and clear. The following passage from the Nei Yeh (Inward Training) refers to the tranquility and clarity that automatically flow from sitting or standing in an aligned and stable posture while attending to the breath.
If you can be aligned and tranquil:
Only then can you be stable.
With a stable mind at your core,
With the ears and eyes acute and clear;
And with the four limbs firm and fixed,
You can thereby make a lodging place for the vital essence.
When your body is not aligned,
The inner power will not come.
When you mind is not tranquil within,
Your mind will not be well ordered.
Align your body, assist the inner power,
Then it will gradually come on its own.
The Concept of SONG
In order to learn to relax and let the Qi/Breath flow, so that the mind can be tranquil and ordered, it can be useful to practice releasing tension and correcting misalignment of the body posture by engaging with the concept of Song, or “slackening.”
The word Song (松）means:
- To loosen: as in loosening one’s hair so it falls naturally
- To slacken: as in releasing a taut rope
- To release
- To let go
- To untie
When teaching Qi Gong, Chinese people often tell their students they need to fang song (放松). This phrase is often translated as “relax,” however in English, ‘relax’ has a connotation of passivity, whereas Song connotes an active releasing or unbinding. Therefore, it is more useful to mentally use the idea of a slackening, releasing, untying or a loosening. This loosening of tension is not limp, but an active potentiated stillness
In the martial arts, the idea of Song is sometimes imaged as pine tree with snow on its branches. The pine boughs bend under the weight of the snow, but if you kick the snow off the boughs, they spring back upward. The boughs are loose and supple, rather than lax and limp.
In engaging with the concept of Song, the mind-intention cannot be too forceful. Let the mind gently direct the body so that slackening is slow, natural and unforced. It is a suggestion rather than a command, almost as if you are observing the body form the outside. Let the mind go to each area of the body and suggest that that part loosens, slackens and lets go. If you cannot feel it song/slacken, then imagine that it song/slackens and move on to the next area.
 Original Tao: Inward Training and the Foundations of Taoist Mysticism by Harold Roth, New York,: Columbia University Press, 1999, pp. 109-110.
All material © 2012. Excerpted from the upcoming book, Decoding the Dao, Nine Lessons on Daoist Meditation, by Tom Bisio. All rights reserved.