Friday, June 11, 2010

The taiji classics ... "suspended headtop"

Perhaps the most essential piece of writing for taiji practitioners is the taiji classics. These are a collection of small accounts of taiji by nine writers, some known and some unknown. The classics can be found in a number of translations (and are often found as an appendix to a larger work).

I quite like the translation of Lo, Inn, Amacker and Foe. It is large print and the sayings and displayed well with lots of space. Ideal for meditation. This was one of the first books on taiji I read and I keep returning to it. My guess is that I will come back to it many times in the future. The reason is that the classics are brief aphorisms that repay careful attention and thought. I have discovered that each time I come back to the classics I learn something new and discover that my taiji has entered a new phase where things that did not make sense begin to make sense.

This is the case with the saying that the head should be suspended by a cord from above. In the classics it comes up a number of times. Here's one of them:

When the ching shen (spirit) is raised,
there is no fault
of stangnacy and heaviness.
This is called suspended headtop.

To be honest, that was (and is) a bit of a mystery as are many of the sayings in the classics. I kind of "get them," but not quite. Recently in my practice I have begun to "get it" more so than before. In terms of posture the spine is to be aligned. The notion of a cord pulling the head upward, while the shoulders relax and chi is sunk downward makes for a correct spine alignment. What does it feel like? It feels very relaxed and very flexible. With eyes closed, feet rooted in earth and legs stable, it is easy to imagine a very stable center with a fluid circumference. It is a very connected feeling.

I realize that this is difficult to put into words. But, now when I read the classics my feeling is, "Ah, yes! I know what you mean." At least, I think I know what it means. Doubtless, there are further depths.

I am enjoying this journey!


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