To become stronger, overcome stress, fear and anxiety
The practiced of Yiquan (意拳), standing postures for grounding and rooting, has a long history in many types of Chinese martial arts, and they are part of Yang Shen (養生) - the philosophy and techniques broadly aimed as physical cultivation for long life.
Although there are different standing postures, they all share the same goal: find the still point within the body and help us to connect with the realm between heaven and earth.
But what does the connection between heaven and earth exactly mean?
If you have never engaged in any practice (Chi Gung, Tai Chi, etc.) involving this, you are probably asking: _ Ok, but what does this connection exactly mean?
To answer this question I will explain in the following lines why is it that, the kind of life we have been living in our modern world has made us loose this precious and essential relationship.
Some of the people who come to me for a session already know about Cultivating Life Practices and wish to continue learning with the objective of growing more relaxed and stronger. The great majority of people however, come because of stress, which in many cases are manifested and perpetuated through pain, discomfort and fatigue in the body, confusion and conflict in the soul and restlessness in the mind.
Our modern society, with its culture based on valuing the fast attainment of objectives and success, has turned this fight or flight response, which should be an exceptional resource to be awakened only if needed, into a general modus operandi.
On top of it, the fact that we walk most of the time on synthetic sole of shoes or on cement, very often use sound devices in ours ears, receive many visual inputs from electronic screens and have our pelvis seated most of the day in a chair, also alter our electric field leading to higher states of stress.
What happen when it becomes chronic?
Once this stress becomes “chronic”, locked in the nervous system, shifting its rev up a few notches and distorting the internal balance of our body, it is easy to see how we could then loose centre, vigour and perspective. We end up operating in a way that depends far too much on the sympathetic nervous system, over-activating our adrenal glands, “emptying the tank” and not giving sufficient time for the parasympathetic nervous system to restore our body/mind properly.
In extreme or long-term cases, we may overreact to the slightest comment, continually distort our thinking and find it almost impossible to cultivate positive attitudes and a clear, calm, open state of mind. The overriding tendency will be to focus on short-term reactive decisions, losing sight of the broader inclusive view and the longer-term consequences of our beliefs and actions. In this way we risk suffocating our ability to feel life and fully enjoy the moment.
All of the factors above have a substantial impact on how we are in the world, how our health is, how we carry ourselves and how we interact with others.
How can we break this pattern?
Learning how to break the spiral of stress and regaining our body and mind, is essential to reconnect with the realm between heaven (Yang) and earth (Yin), to live fully and to remember who we are and what we came to be and do here on Earth and with Earth.
With this objective, during a session with students or patients, I quite often use Yiquan, first and foremost to help people to release fear and anxiety by learning how to rely on their legs. Biomechanically this means using the joints of the legs and the spine as shock absorbers - so they can let go more and at the same time grow confidence in the body´s Biotensegrity (a natural supportive and efficient mechanism that we all have as toddlers which unfortunately, most of us loose as we grow older)
The only and best place to be…
This ability of regaining a more effective alignment, which is the foundation of the internal martial arts, inevitably reorganises the body frame and balances Chi flow, the life force or bioelectricity that runs through our Mai System. The Mai System is comprised of the acupuncture channels, a whole network of streams and rivers that bath and nourish our inner landscape (body tissues and the mind). This balance in which we literally distribute forces throughout the body is what starts the process of releasing tension in the nervous system, regulating the breath and bringing the mind to a calmer yet, alive state.
Through the standing and rooting positions, we start to embody what is dense (Yin) in us (flesh, fascia and bones, etc) and gradually start housing what is more volatile, rare-fate (Yang) in us (the mind, the thoughts and emotions). When we access this connection, we find the still point (link to Grounding, Rooting & Earthing - Standing Weekly Practices @ Smart Move IGung Programme page), our centre of gravity and can experience the now. Neither the future, nor the past, but the exact instant we are in and that is why it is called grounding and rooting. We learn that the best and only place to reset, to nourish and therefore to be, is exactly where we are.
More then a meditation technique…
Is this a meditation technique? Indeed! But it is much more than that. We can stand perfectly, cultivating stillness up to one hour and it is a powerful healing tool. People may not be aware at first but apart from all the biomechanical/postural and emotional benefits of rooting, while we practicing standing, we are consciously regulating our sympathetic (Yang) and parasympathetic (Yin) nervous system and that helps enormously to harmonise our metabolism, which in turn improves immensely our immune system too.
I could go on and on describing all the amazing physiological and emotional benefits of standing in this embodied connection between heaven and earth but making it simpler, through this practice we start to understand the body as a container or a vehicle if you like… We find out if we have any blockages (constricted areas) or “linkages” (weak areas) in our body/home. Then with small adjustments, we learn how to fix these imbalances, and gradually the Shen, ( link to Morning Stifness article part: Our body and mind as a psycho-physical unit ) which is the word for the mind/soul in Chinese medicine, starts to enjoy being at home.
Tuning into life
What may seem just a postural correction from the outside is in reality, a tuning in the inside. So just as we tune the chords of a guitar, refining the frequency of what we are made of, we can then vibrate more harmoniously within the environment we are in.
Needless to say, standing gets easier with gentle practice and regularity and as in any other learning process, it soon becomes second nature. The great thing is that, since we are on our feet at least for few hours a day, we can always find those alignments and get in touch with that nice still place inside, relaxed but never collapsed.
When combining with what the scientific community now is calling Earthing, ( https://www.hindawi.com/journals/jeph/2012/291541/ ) grounding and rooting becomes twice as powerful.
The Earth is basically a six sextillion (that's a six followed by twenty-one zeroes) metric ton battery that is continually being replenished by heat from its deep-down molten core and heavenly energy, such as solar radiation and lightning, planets orbit and the moon phases. The natural rhythmic pulsations of energy flowing through and emanating from the surface of the Earth keep the biological machinery and global life running in rhythm and balance and that includes us and all living beings.
By reconnecting to the Earth's natural electron rich surface we restore our natural electrical state in our physiology. Reducing of stress, pain and inflammation; improving sleep and healing from injuries are just few benefits that have been proven scientifically through Earthing.
Our bear feet rich in nerve endings and foundation of our body mass in Standing Practices, are also the door for improving this connection. They have many important acupuncture points which directly connect to the spine and the internal organs and among them is the Yong Quan, also called bubbling well point which is an entry way for absorption of Earth Chi (energy), perfect for growing a root (a terminology used by Yquan practitioners).
We are electrical beings and we must recover our natural electrical charge.
By grounding, rooting with Earthing we regain contact with Mother Earth, we allow the free electrons to flow into the body equalising and maintaining our field with the electrical potential of the Earth.
We stop being two different entities and become the same unit with her again.
There are few fundamental basic steps to practice grounding and rooting which I teach as part of The Smart Move IGung Programmes™ (link to the Grounding, Rooting & Earthing - Standing Weekly Practices) and once learned and cultivated, what you feel is being centered or literally plugged between heaven and earth, to life itself.
Strong and flexible like a rooted three (earth/Yin), yet soundful like a tuned guitar (heaven/Yang).