Introduction to Wuji: The Art of Stillness
Wuji can be traced back to ancient times as a form of core training for martial arts. This simple standing practice unleashes the power of your mind to heal chronic pain and illness, dramatically improve your health & energy levels, reverse the effects of aging, and cultivate inner calm & stillness.
Wuji: The Art of Stillness – Part 1
In this two part article we will discuss the correct method to practice wuji. It is the stillness before and after tai chi movement. When we practice, our only concern is stillness of body and mind.
“Can you remain still until the right action arises by itself?”
Tao Te Ching
What is Wuji?
Wuji (無極) literally means “extreme nothing”. It is an ancient philosophical concept referring to the state of the universe before it existed.
For our purposes here, it is the practice of “standing still quietly doing nothing.” This method dates back to ancient times as a form of core training in martial arts. It was believed that “in order to understand movement, you must first understand stillness”, or put another way, “we practice stillness to understand how to move correctly”.
Wuji combines the science of energy cultivation with the art of balance and ancient Chinese philosophy. It has a powerful effect on cultivating vibrant health and healing chronic pain and sickness. Migraine headaches, arthritic joints, debilitating neck and back pain, high blood pressure, insomnia, digestive and nervous disorders, and many more health issues all respond very positively to the regular practice of wuji.
”We practice stillness to understand how to move properly.”
Ancient Tai Chi Principle
In Part 1, we will discuss outer alignment and the proper method of standing. In Part 2 we will discuss the inner process of relaxation and stillness.
What Wuji is not:
- It is not a breathing exercise, yet when we practices intently, our breathing will become more calm, relaxed, quiet, and efficient.
- It is not a posture exercise, yet when we practice, our posture will naturally improve through the process of relaxation in line with gravity.
- It is not a qi circulation exercise, yet when we practice, the blood and qi circulation will improve and become more efficient.
- It is not a mental exercise, yet when absorbed in practice, the mind becomes quiet, still and calm.
- It is a do nothing exercise. Just stand. That is all. Any benefits that result are purely from this. In other words, do not focus on these effects.
Part 1: Outer Posture
Rule for standing
- Stand with your feet parallel and shoulder width apart.
- Gently lift the top of your head as if suspended from above
- Eyes look forward, ears listen behind
- Breathe naturally in and out through your nose
- Press the tip of your tongue lightly against the roof of your mouth behind your upper teeth
- Touch your lips and teeth together lightly
- Stretch up/lengthen the back of your neck with your lower jaw slightly tucked in
- Relax your shoulders, sink your elbows, and allow your arms and hands to hang comfortably by your sides
- Relax/hollow/empty your chest
- Relax your back muscles; let your shoulder blades sink down and spread apart
- Relax your waist and let your lower spine straighten naturally
- Keep your stomach muscles relaxed without any tension
- Do not allow your buttocks to protrude backwards; do not flex/tuck your pelvis forward
- Relax, sink, and loosen your hips
- Gently spiral your legs internally, causing your posterior hips to gently expand out to the sides
- Keep the area between your legs round, expanding outward; do not allow your knees to collapse inward
- Keep your knees in line with your toes
- The soles of your feet, heels, and toes all remain in contact with the ground
Practice standing quietly while observing the above principles until you can manifest them with ease and comfort. Practice daily, preferably several times each day. Start with a few minutes each time, and gradually increase the time you stand up to 30-40 minutes. Then, go on to Part 2 of this article.
Please also see article titled Wuji and Zhan Zhuang.
If you enjoyed this article, you can get a copy of my book, Wuji Standing Method, available in both paperback and E book editions here.
You can get Wuji Standing Method online here.
You can also get the audiobook version here.