A foundation of traditional Chinese thought is the belief in a single cosmic universe filled with energy called qi. In the beginning, the universe was an endless void known as wuji. From this emptiness came activity expressed as yin and yang. In tai chi, wuji is the infinity posture, corresponding to the neutral universe. A primary goal of wuji is posture awareness, where we allow ourselves to mentally scan our body, uncovering our physical and mental needs and desires.
Yin and yang are sometimes thought to be aspects of feminine and masculine, but this is incorrect. It’s the other way around. Yin and yang are the whole and represent the opposites that exist throughout the universe. All opposites are aspects of yin and yang. Light and dark, day and night, earth and sky, water and fire, feminine and masculine are typical aspects. Yin and yang are represented by the double fish symbol.
External aspects of Wuji
In traditional qigong and tai chi practice, the wuji posture is used as a resting position before starting the exercise, and is sometimes placed between other movements. It symbolically represents the “great void” of the original universal void. The tai chi classics say that wuji gives birth to tai chi, where emptiness is transformed into activity. We practice tai chi to develop our ability to understand and use the energy of the universe.
To stand in wuji, start with your feet shoulder-width apart. Relax your whole body. Your weight should be evenly distributed on the three balance points of your foot: the ball of the foot, the point at the base of the little toe, and the heel. Make sure your knees are loose. Tuck your elbows in, lower your hands to your sides, and let your shoulders drop. Do not block any joint.
Keep your spine straight without stiffening (song). Tilt your pelvis slightly forward and push your chin back slightly to straighten your spine. Imagine that your head is suspended above your body by a rope from the ceiling. Allow your eyes to close without pressure, and bring each breath to the dan tien energy point, about three inches below your navel. Proper alignment opens the doors in the body for proper qi flow.
Gradually relax your body from top to bottom. Look straight ahead and relax your gaze without focusing on anything. Relax your jaw, neck and shoulders. Relax your arms and hands, letting them hang loose. Allow your breath to gradually deepen and expand your diaphragm.
Internal aspects of Wuji
The first step is to relax in the pose for a few moments. Stand as still as a tree and pay attention to whatever sensations you feel. Don’t try to change anything. Just pay attention to the sensations.
Visualize a rope connecting the top of your head to the sky, lifting you up and stretching your spine. Let your mind travel throughout your body. Continue with deep breaths for several minutes. Use your breath as a focus point. If your mind wanders, bring it back to your breath. Calm and empty your mind. A calm mind can better feel the flow of qi.
Be aware of any feelings of comfort or discomfort. Be aware of any muscle tension. These are neither good nor bad. they just are. Don’t be judgmental. The goal is to develop your ability to feel what is happening in your body. Awareness of your body develops your self-awareness.
Standing in wuji is the ideal posture for the balanced flow of qi. All the places where the qi does not flow become apparent. Areas of poor qi flow become uncomfortable or even painful. Standing discomfort reveals places where your body isn’t working properly. Your natural instinct is to move when you feel uncomfortable. Move your body to eliminate painful postures, but try to maintain the posture when you simply feel uncomfortable.
One method of eliminating discomfort is to imagine your breath moving into the area of discomfort. Imagine your breath going in and out of your body through that area. With each inhalation, bring healing qi into your body. With each exhalation, expel stagnant qi and take away tension and pain. Allow the healing qi to wash away the discomfort.
Another method of eliminating discomfort is to imagine the discomfort falling through your body to the ground. Allow it to fall through your feet and onto the ground. When discomfort leaves your body, it must be replaced by a feeling of comfort.
Try to stand in wuji for a few moments every day. It seems very simple, but you will find it very difficult the first few times you try it. Time will seemingly drag on forever. Boredom will drive you crazy. Be persistent and these feelings will pass. Over a period of several weeks, gradually increase the amount of time you spend on your feet. However, remember that quality is more important than quantity. Don’t force yourself to stand up when you’re distracted.
With practice, you can develop the ability to achieve the same state of mind at any time, even when sitting down. This can improve your health by helping you deal with stress. Apply the principles of body awareness and dan tien breathing to develop calm.