To effectively use standing meditation as a legitimate form of contemplative practice, the elements of alignment and the energetic principles need to be integrated with our bodies and in harmony in our living human system. Integration takes time and wise effort in the process of development. The intelligent effort includes patience and understanding of how development can potentially go. We can also include understanding and recognizing plateaus in the course of training. The application of qigongdharma principles is essential to the efficacy, value, and longevity of all the aspects of our practice. The principle of “Under-Doing” is about the quality of effort that you use to realize the best outcome for your time in practice. The statement is this:
Practice Underdoing: Practicing within approximately 70% of your capacity and range of motion enables you to be mindfully present and makes it possible to stay connected with feeling and flow, release excess tension, and optimize the effect of practice. Learn the value of underdoing!
In motion and stillness, this guideline is relevant and vital. As we integrate embodied mindfulness, another aspect called the Pareto principle ( from economist Vilfredo Pareto ) is helpful. This principle states that perhaps 80% of outcomes or consequences come from 20% or less of causes. To translate this principle into our practice means that the subtle – but essential – adjustments we make in feeling the elements of alignment and embodying the principles have a profound and lasting impact on our health and wellbeing.
In our qigongdharma principle of underdoing, we practice the 70/30 guideline for longevity and optimal benefit. The Pareto 80/20 principle demonstrates why this works the way it does. Practically speaking, that 20% of skillful refinements in our structural posture and to the ‘energetic’ and emotional holding of our bodies make an enduring impact on the quality of our meditation and contemplative efforts. It also positively contributes to our emotional and mental health – and is intimately interconnected in our unique human being and our shared life here on this planet. The way I put it is that micro-adjustments can make huge positive differences in all the domains of our lives. These adjustments are physical-structural, mental-emotional, and energetic-spiritual. That is why we work on these details.
Let’s look at what is called the 6 Harmonies.
The six harmonies are related to the internal arts practices of Liu He Ba Fa, Xing Yi, and Taiji Chuan and our standing meditation practice – especially of San Ti Shi (3 Treasures Stance). The six harmonies are divided into three internal harmonies and three external harmonies.
Practically speaking, these are integrated and developed simultaneously. Therefore, a slow and purposeful approach is the way to have the best outcome.
The 3 Internal Harmonies are:
Xin 心 represents our heart/emotional mind. Another way of speaking of this is that Xin is spirit, spirit as in ‘presence’ not so much ethereal. Xin harmonizes with Yi – intention.
Yi 意 is the aspect we could call heart/intention mind or our wisdom mind. The harmony of our spirit with our intention is necessary for success in our endeavors – whatever they may be. Yi then harmonizes with our life force – Qi.
Qi 氣 is the animating energy of life, present throughout the Universe. Intrinsically connected with Qi is Li 理. In this case, the Li are the organizing principles of the Universe. Qi does not exist without Li, and Li cannot manifest without Qi. In this sense, the meaning of Li 理 in this sense is ‘principle,’ as in patterns of universal coherence. This Li 理 is the innate intelligence of the Universe – the patterning of manifestation, expressed with the animating vitality of Qi 氣.
The Dimensions of our 3 Internal Harmonies Practice:
- Your heart/mind comes into harmony with your wisdom/mind.
- This harmony is a synergy, a living, experienced synergy.
- This living synergy becomes congruent with our life force, our Qi.
- This gives us strength, purpose, and direction.
- This is a natural alliance. The qi is then coordinated with movement.
- The movement of the body, mind, and spirit is then in agreement.
- This natural alliance reveals itself as harmony with the Dao.
- What else is there to want?
The 3 External Harmonies are:
- Hips and Shoulders
- Elbows and Knees
- Hands and Feet
Hips and Shoulders harmony represents communication and coordination between the hips and shoulders. This is not a rigid adherence to superficial alignment but a living interaction and synchronization of feeling and accord in movement and stillness. This quality of relationship is the same with elbows and knees and hands and feet. Specifically, there is neither collapse nor contraction in the relationships of the natural alignment of the shoulders with the hips. The arm/shoulder joint area is open, and the hip joint field – the Kua – is not compressed nor closed.
Elbows and Knees are also communicating and coordinated, as expressed in the hips and shoulders relationship.
Hands and Feet are also in corresponding and reciprocal relationships. While the relative position of the hands and feet are not always in direct approximate alignment, they are always in a mutually beneficial connection. Thus, the hands and feet support and contribute to the movement and the activities of one another.
Harmonious movement does not mean moving as a unified whole in an unnatural or contrived way; on the contrary, natural, coordinated movement is expressed elegantly and appropriately in relationship with the circumstances and the environment.
Harmonious stillness in standing or sitting is about coherency within the systems of the organism. It is not about a rigid structure or form. Mindfulness, as a direct embodied experience, leads to a natural unification of the systems of our bodies. Clarity and well-being is the outcome of harmony with the Dao.
Internal and external harmony leads to an evolving appreciation of the interconnectedness of our own unique human life with the Universe. May Compassion and Wisdom continue to grow and thrive.