This standing meditation called “embracing the moon” is practiced before one begins the taiji forms to totally relax the body and bring the mind to pristine focus and absolute clarity. Externally, the lower body (from the waist down to the tip of the toes) is strengthened while the upper body (from the waist all the way up to the crown of the head) is suspended in vital relaxation. Internally, the organs are warmed up, joints are unlocked, mind achieves clarity and focus.This posture harmoniously unites the external (physical) and the internal (mental), the upper body (heaven) and the lower body (earth).
Diaphragmatic Breathing: Relaxing Your Mind and Body Through Breath
Inhale through your nose. Expand your lower abdomen (like a little baby); slowly and gradually taking in a full breath. Exhale through your nose. Squeeze your lower abdomen; slowly and gradually pushing all the air out through your nose until you feel a total void in your abdomen. Then repeat for the rest of the breath cycles. The lower abdomen is very important, this is the location of your “tan tien” (center/generator of energy). The “tan tien” is your CORE.
I. Beginning: Connecting with your Internal Energy
Standing with both feet together, knees unlocked and hands down on the sides. Relax your shoulders then relax your elbows, wrists and the joints of your fingers. If it helps, smile on all these joints to help them relax. Relax your spine starting with the neck area, visualise all the joints relaxing downwards to the chest area, the waist area the hips area, and all the way down to the tailbone. Relax the thighs, unlock the knees, and relax the ankles and all the joints of your toes.
Shift your weight on the right foot then bend your left knee and bring your left foot out to the side about shoulder width away, toes touching the ground first. Slowly bring your heel down and distribute your weight on both legs. Now lower your body to the ground by bending your knees and curling your tailbone into a neutral spine position. Rotate your shoulders bringing your hands forward and up to no higher than chest level. Make sure your shoulders stay relaxed. Sink down with your elbows, rotate your wrist to make a circle with your palms facing you.
III. Meditation: Emptying Yourself into the Posture
Settle into this posture known as “embracing the moon.” Take ten to twenty diaphragmatic breath cycles (later on, with practice, you will find that you are able to extend this to the hundreds). Focus on every in-breath and out-breath. Feel your body relaxing with every breath you take. If it helps, smile at all your joints and imagine a string of light coming from heaven connecting to the crown of your head. You are dangling on this string of light, weightless, ethereal, ...empty. This part is the most challenging and consists the longest part of the process. you should stay in this meditative state as long as you can. If thoughts arise and blurr your focus just bring your mind back to your breath.
III.Ending: Storing your Vital Energy
To end the taiji meditation inhale then exhale pressing your palms against each other. Inhale while separating your palms bringing them to shoulder width apart only, then exhale pressing them together again. Repeat for three cycles. Then take longer and deeper breath cycles by bringing your hands farther to the sides without straining your shoulders, drop your elbows lower then exhale by using your shoulders to compress your arms bringing your palms slowly back to pressing position in the center. Repeat three times then inhale, rotating your wrists to make the palms face downwards. Exhale lowering your elbows, allow your wrist to follow until fingers point down to Earth then rotate your wrists turning your palms outwards. Inhale; use your shoulders to raise your hands to chest level, rising slowly as you do so. Bring your hands higher until both palms are above your head. Inhale slowly then exhale extending your spine upwards as if you’re being pulled up. Hold your breath and this extension for two to three seconds then exhale slowly lowering your hands back to chest level. Inhale bringing your hands to your sides, then exhale bringing your hands down to the sides of your thighs. During this movement it is important that you visualize your vital energy (chi) returning back and settling down unto your core or “ tan tien”.
Shift your weight to the right foot. Bend your left knee, lifting your left foot and bringing it next your right foot. Slowly distribute your weight on both legs then rise up without locking your knees.