Song (sung) is a term used in taijiquan that is often translated as ‘relax’.
Yet it is much more. When I relax to go to sleep at night, I try to let go of all form and trust my bed to provide all the support I need. Sure, I maintain my basic bodily shape, but I try to let go as much as I can.
How successful I am at that is a big factor in how restful my night’s sleep is. If I am holding unnecessary tension in my muscles then I am at odds with my mission.
When I relax during my taijiquan practice it’s different. I can’t let go entirely. If I did, I’d be a puddle on the floor. I wouldn’t be able to properly execute a “Ward Off” or a “Bend Bow to Shoot Tiger”. All my postures require some structure.
Song means to relax into the intrinsic structure of the body. Not the muscles, but rather the connective tissue system (CTS). Sure, the muscles are in use, but passively. The classics tell us to use the sinews, not the muscles. If I intentionally contract a muscle group, then that will kick in counter-contraction to balance that out. When I activate through my CTS, then the tensegrity of my body will distribute the load throughout the whole system. Like a circus tent or a geodesic dome.
Song automatically enhances our energetic connection with the earth. We are more rooted. We can take that a step further, though.
If we intentionally “meet” the earth, we can begin to see how much we actually resist the pull of gravity. We have been unconsciously pushing away from the earth for decades because we have never learned to trust our CTS. It’s like hovering an inch above a chair by using the power of our legs. We are either unaware of the chair or don’t trust it to hold our weight. Song is letting go and feeling the support of the CTS.
It is analogous to drilling for oil. You extend your awareness into the earth like a drill bit, meeting it as a partner. When you meet the earth qi, it rises to meet you, coming up under pressure, filling your body to the extent you can tolerate it. This is not a mechanical thing. It requires your participation and your willingness to reach your consciousness into the earth. When you do, you will find that the earth is a willing partner.
Meeting the earth qi requires you first be song. Trust the tensegrity of your connective tissue. Then you have to stop fighting the earth’s attempts to establish diplomatic relations. Gravity could be thought of as the earth putting its attention on you. Return the favor and open up to the Big Qi.
Try it in a simple standing meditation. Stand like a gorilla. Place your feet hip width apart with the support evenly divided. Arms hang down, slightly rounded. Your center of gravity is over the balls of your feet. Your heels just kiss the ground. Relax all extraneous muscular tension and trust the intrinsic structure of your body. Extend your awareness through your feet and into the earth. Welcome the earth as a partner, not just as something to be used. You are in a reciprocal relation. Notice the sensations in your hands as the qi increases in pressure, filling you up. As you go deeper into relation, you will find the boundaries that separate you and the earth become more vague. The yin qi of the earth supports, calms, and empowers us.
It takes some time and practice to be able to use the power you get from establishing your earth connection. Practice in lots of different stances. Learn to trust it and the earth will be a good partner.