MIS Week One: Wuji

Wuji is the still point or the starting point.  It is variously translated as emptiness, or chaos, or primordial.  It is the most basic of the postures, but as it is our starting point it is can also be the most difficult in a way as we first start to gain the concept of internal movement within external stillness, and begin to master the processes of our body and our mind that contribute to this.

One of the mistakes people make when starting standing practice is to think that standing still means to stand like a statue, with no movement – this misconception can lead to the rigidity and stiffness of a statue which is detrimental to our health.  It is better to think of standing still like a tree, or even perhaps a blade of grass.  While the tree does not move overtly, it actually does sway back and forth gently in response to the wind, and is of course vibrant and actively alive and moving on the inside.  The movement of the grass is even more obvious in the wind, and would encourage you to think of yourself more like grass to begin with and over time to become more like a tree.

The posture for Wuji is simply a relaxed neutral standing posture.  Stand with your feet hip width apart, body and head upright, shoulders relaxed and open, with the arms loose by the sides.  Sink gently into your posture bending your knees just slightly and feel the tissues activate all around your joints through your whole body.

You will be standing in this posture for quite some time, and as you do this, you will both consciously and unconsciously become aware of ways in which your body is unbalanced.  Little by little you will naturally correct yourself and find your way towards a more centred and balanced posture.  This can be an uncomfortable process as one of the main ways we become aware of these imbalances is through tension and even pain in our body which comes from holding and unbalanced posture for an extended period of time.  My advice is not to just grin and bear it, but rather when you feel this tension build up, to gently shift your weight to ease the tension and then settle back towards a more centred and balanced place.  The way I suggest you do this is to gently sway forwards and backwards and side to side several times like a blade of grass in the breeze, allowing the tensions in your body to gently release and rebalance and then settle again at the still point in the middle or these movements.  You may also find that you have the sense to stand much more upright than you usually would as you practice.

A good amount of time to aim for in this posture is 20 minutes, but it doesn’t matter if you don’t make it to this length of time straight away.  The important thing is to gently stretch both your physical and mental limits without straining them.  A good way to do this is count your breaths while you are in the posture.  Breathe deep steady relaxed breaths, and count what Is a comfortable number of breaths for you in the posture.  It may become uncomfortable for either physical or mental reasons (boredom or distraction), when this happens, rock forward and backwards, side to side to ease the discomfort and refocus yourself, then repeat.  Once you have established a baseline of how many breaths you can sustain in the posture, you can gently extend this little by little in each of your sessions.  Using your breath is preferable to watching a clock as it keeps your awareness inside it.  It also helps you to continue to breathe throughout the practice rather than possibly holding your breath when it becomes physically uncomfortable or focus becomes challenging.

This Wuji standing is very simple but surprisingly rewarding.  As you mind and your body become still on the outside, you will find new stirrings of energy within.  Areas that have been held tight, maybe for many years, will begin to soften and energy will begin to flow, much like ice being exposed to the radiant heat of the sun.