Sung (relax) every hair is fully alert

‘In the fully energized state, “every hair is fully alert.” The state of relaxed arousal is what is meant by the chinese term “sung.” This is not the drowsy torpor before sleep. It is the release of tension that saps our strength – so that we become alert, clearheaded and full of vigor. Your head is uplifted and your eyes open, while letting go of physical tension in your muscles and organs.’
(The Way of Power by Master Lam Kam Chuen p. 134)

Cheng Man Ch’ing on Sung

I have been practicing Tai-Chi Chuan for over fifty years. Only two years ago that I started to understand the word “relax”. I remember my Tai-Chi Chuan teacher Yang Cheng-Fu who did not like to talk much and he used to sit all day without saying a word if no one asked him questions. However, in our T’ai-chi class he would tell us to “relax” repeatedly. Sometimes it seemed like he would say the word hundreds of times during the practice so that the word could fill up my ears. Strangely enough he also said that if he did not tell me of this word that I would not be able to learn T’ai-chi in three life-times (meaning never). I doubted his words then. Now that I think back, I truly believe that if he did not keep reminding me of the word “relax”, I doubt if I could have learned T’ai-chi Chuan in six life-times.

What is the meaning of “relax” in T’ai-chi? Here is an example to help you understand the word. When we go visit a Buddhist temple we usually see a statue of Me-Lo Buddha. The one who has a big rounded stomach with a big smile on his face. He carries a large bag on his shoulder. On top of this statue we see a motto: “Sit with a bag. Walk with a bag. It would be such a relief to drop the bag.” What does all this mean? To me, a person himself or herself is a bag. Everything he or she owns is baggage, including one’s children, family, position and wealth. It is difficult to drop any of one’s baggage, especially the “self” bag.

T’ai-chi Chuan is difficult to learn. To relax in practicing T’ai-chi Chuan is the most difficult phase to go through. To relax a person’s mind is the most significant obstacle to overcome in practicing T’ai-Chi. It takes a great effort to train and exercise one’s mind to relax (or drop one’s “self” bag).

The way to nurture the force of ‘Nei Jing’
Within martial arts, the key to unlock and nurture stronger inner energy of ‘Nei Jing’ is through practising ‘song’ (Traditional Chinese: 鬆 ). The term ‘song’ can function as a verb which means to keep one’s mind and body loose resilient and expanding like the consistency of cotton or clouds or relaxed yet concentrated like the sharp alertness of cats immediately before attack. The term can also be used as an adjective which has the same meaning as described above. The greater the extent one can achieve ‘song’ and minize the use of ‘Li’, the greater the release of ‘Nei Jing’ force.

Practising ‘song’ is part of kung fu training process. It occurs when one keeps reminding oneself to ‘song’ thoroughly and refrain from the ‘Li’ force because the energy of ‘Nei Jing’ will be locked and blocked whenever the force ‘Li’ is applied. So, ‘Nei Jing’ and ‘Li’ are said to be mutually exclusive.

Therefore, the Tai Ji Quan master Yang Chengfu used the concept of‘song’ as a benchmark in his daily teaching. It was his daily routine to keep reminding his disciples to ‘song’ thoroughly more than 10 times when he inspected them.

Nei Jing wikipedia.org

Nei Jing of Li Yanxi

Sung of Wu style taiji Master Zhu Datong

San Bao – The Three Gems

Cultivate the three gems for health, longevity and enlightenment.

1. 精 Jing – Essence
2. 気 Chi (Qi) – Energy (vital breath)
3. 神 Shen – Spirit

Regulate body posture, breathing and mind.

“Accumulate Shen to promote Chi
Accumulate Chi to promote Jing
Refine Jing until it becomes Chi
Refine Chi into Shen
Refine Shen to emptiness
This is the way to strengthen, support and increase the Jing, Chi and Shen of the body.”

Reference: yangfamilytaichi.com

Jing – Essence. What is left after something has been refined and purified. In Chinese medicine, Jing can mean semen, but it generally refers to the basic substance of the body which the Qi and Spirit enliven. 

Jing is a basic component of the human body and serves as a basis for vital activity. It is what we get from what we eat, the sun, the moon. In the Jing/Chi pair, Jing is more like Yin.

Chi – Vital Energy. Chi or qi is an active principle forming part of any living thing. It is frequently translated as “energy flow”. The literal translation is “air”, “breath”, or “gas”.

The meaning of Chi is simply, life! Life is due to the coming together of Chi, and death is due to the dispersion of Chi. It is a force promoting the activity of the human body. Chi coexists with Jing. Where there is Chi, there is Jing. Where there is Jing, there must be Chi. Chi is like energy. Chi is more like Yang.

To concentrate the chi.

The chi sinks to tan tien. When the chi sinks to the tan tien, the body will become relaxed and the blood will circulate freely through it unhindered. 

The chi should be stimulated. This stimulation of the chi can be compared to the small waves which form on a lake when the wind blows them to and fro in system of troughs and crests. When the chi is stimulated in this way, it produces heat. Gradually this this heat increases and penetrates the bones and become marrow.

(Tai Chi Chuan for Health and Self-Defense: Philosophy and Practice T. T Liang) p. 3-4

The chi should be stimulated and the spirit of vitality should be retained internally.

The principle: Water into steam. When the spirit of vitality is concentrated and retained internally, the heart (mind) will be tranquil and the entire body relaxed so that one may become alert and sensitive.

Shen is derived from Jing and Chi, plus it has a substantial basis (Jing + Chi = Shen.) Shen is the outward manifestation of the cooperating action of Jing and Chi. Where Chi is strong, there will be Shen. Where Chi is absent, Shen will weaken. Shen moves along with Chi and Jing. The substance of Shen manifests itself in bodily appearance.

By following the principles of Tai Chi Chuan, the entire body is loose (song) and open allowing the (Jingshen) Vital Energy to be cultivated and be able to raise. Your spirit comes from your heart and shows out through your eyes. You must use your attention and concentration to help your spirit raise up.

Links:
The Three Treasures taoism.about.com

References:
Cultivating Stillness: Taoist Manual for Transforming Body and Mind (maj 1993) Eva Wong

Commandment of my Spirit

In the search for meaning in my life I reached the barrier of reason. I felt the urge to go beyond the doors of the comprehensible. 

Looking for God. I walk on the path of enlightenment in search of the ultimate truth. Transcending all. 

Returning to the void.