The Chinese term sung is often translated as “relaxed”, but a more accurate translation is “unbound”–a state in which the body loses all unnecessary bindings, all resistances, all tension.
The following is an excerpt from my article, “Cultivating Sung in Water Method Arts: Free Yourself from Bindings and Awaken Mind-Body Consciousness”. Download the full article here >>
Standing & the Spine: Cultivating Sung to Free Yourself from Bindings
To create genuine internal movement, power is generated in the legs, guided by the waist, and applied through the arms and hands. Therefore, to a large degree, tension must be drained out of the upper body; otherwise the upper body remains too stiff to transfer the power from the legs, leaving the arms to operate independently of the body. Hence the need for sung.
Standing practice can help get you on the road to dropping tension out of the upper body, through the lower body and into the earth. In the process, you’ll develop your root, which is a fundamental building block of Water method health, healing and meditation arts. After a period of tuning in, standing starts releasing the upper body and strengthening the legs, thereby serving as preparation for moving practices, such as qi gong, tai chi and bagua.
The legs drive the motion of the body and arms in two profound ways:
- Externally – the legs initiate the motion of forms (i.e. stepping, shifting and turning), the waist follows and physically moves the arms (up/down, left/right and forward/back).
- Internally – bending and stretching the soft tissues of the legs directly transfers to bending and stretching the soft tissues of the arms in a wave-like action similar to the way in which ocean currents below the surface generate the waves we observe from the beach in continuous ebb and flow.
For sung to take hold in the body, the spine becomes the focal point to hold up the body. The spine gently yet firmly rises to prevent any collapsing of the upper skeletal frame or tensing of the back and chest muscles with three important points of reference:
- Pluck up the back – the rising spine carefully lifts and extends all the way up to the top of the back/base of the neck; there is no hardening or tensing whatsoever.
- The neck remains empty – the gentle rising of the cervical vertebrae is soft, although not weak or floppy, all the way up to the skull.
- Hang off the spine – the rest of the body sinks towards the ground and literately creates a sense that everything inside the bag of skin is hanging off the spine. Initially, try to get a sense that your arms and chest are hanging off your spine; later, when you feel your arms are heavy and can stay relaxed for some period, focus on allowing the pelvis and leg muscles to also hang off the spine. Always be sure your knees feel comfortable, don’t let pressure build up in the knees from the sinking of the body, and keep the back of the knees open as this transfers the body’s weight to the feet.
Slowly, over weeks, months and years, the muscles will release, the ligaments will take over and a sense of deep relaxation will settle into your body…a sung state is in the making.
This is an excerpt from my complete article, “Cultivating Sung in Water Method Arts: Free Yourself from Bindings and Awaken Mind-Body Consciousness”, which you can download here >>