Throughout the years, I’ve been asked this question in various forms, and I’ve come to realise that many students who ask it have often reached quite a profound level of practice. Of course, as with any Tao arts training, the answer lies in developing your skill with ever-more refined nei gong techniques, self-reflection and ongoing meditation practice.
To Control or Not to Control,
That Is the Question
The short answer to the question is that opening entails exerting some level of control while letting go does not. To consider the quality of difference yet deeper, we can look to the nei gong from which opening and letting go derive and how each are applied in practice.
The World Health Organization reports that “An estimated 17 million people die of CVDs, particularly heart attacks and strokes, every year”. Along with smoking, poor diet and lack of activity are among the top three primary causes.
All Tao energy arts focus on the internal organs since they are critical to our survival and the health we experience in our lifetime—they are what makes us tick. If you lose a limb, as long as you stop the bleeding, you will survive. In fact, you could lose all four limbs and still live but, if you lose an organ—say your heart, spleen or liver—your life will come to an abrupt and decisive end. The simple fact is that it’s not your muscles or limbs that perpetuate your life, but rather your internal organs. Western exercise methods emphasise developing muscle power, shape and tone—that which makes us look good from the outside.
In my last two posts on creating and using space in your body (review Lesson 1 or Lesson 2), I took you through two individual and distinct processes for increasing your body’s capacity, and releasing stress and tension. Once you’ve practised each thread separately and regularly for some time and with good result, then you can integrate the two streams into one exercise to upgrade potential health benefits.
In my previous post on creating space in your body, I offered progessive energy exercises to help you open your musculo-skeletal frame in a coordinated fashion to gain maximum benefit from ongoing training. If you’re not there yet, just keep working in this direction and don’t worry about achieving the ideal in any given timeframe.
As you practice, however, you want to transition from focusing more on your nerves and less on the muscles. For students who have begun training to open the entire musculo-skeletal frame simultaneously, you want to back off from stretching as described in my previous post.