Song (松) means to loosen and relax. It means to open up your joints so the energy can flow. What does that really mean, though? It means to stretch the ligaments that hold our joints together. How do we do that? Here is a simple exercise to help you learn about song.
Look at your hands at the inside of your wrists. At the base of your palm, right where it joins with the wrist, there is a line, or fold, in the skin. You can usually see this line on both hands. Bring your hands together so that your hands are in a prayer position. Hold your hands together, palms facing each other, and align the two lines. Look at your finger tips. For many people, the fingertips will not be even. One hand is larger than the other. Note which hand is smaller. If they seem to be the same size, note which hand is your non-dominant hand.
Now, look at your smaller or non-dominant hand. Start with your little finger. Look at the first knuckle, the one closest to your palm. Visualize that joint is expanding and stretching. Keep your attention there for about 3 to 5 seconds. Move to the next joint on the little finger. Visualize that joint is expanding and stretching. Focus for about 3 to 5 seconds again. Move your attention to the last joint in the finger and repeat.
Move your attention to the next finger, the ring finger. Look at the first knuckle and do the same visualization. Follow this with the rest of the knuckles. Move to the middle finger, then the pointing finger, and then the thumb. Do the same visualization for each knuckle. Now, visualize your entire hand. Imagine that the whole hand is expanding, that it is growing with each heartbeat.
Now, line up your hands again from the line at your wrist. Most people find that their hand has grown a little bit. You certainly didn't increase the size of your bones in that short time. The increase has to come from the space between the bones, the joints. This is song.
Now the tricky part begins. Use this same technique for the rest of your body. Don't worry about the measuring or comparing here. You know it works. Open up your shoulder joints during your tai chi warmups. Focus on your shoulders while you do your forms. You may need to pause once in a while to bring your attention back to the shoulders. Continue this practice for the elbows, spine, hips, etc. You can use this technique for your entire body. With lots of practice, you can start to develop the ability to continuously maintain song throughout your body.
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© 2012 Eric Borreson