When you settle into your practice each day, you should always give yourself a couple of minutes to just feel and see where your body, your energy, and your awareness are.
In one sense, each practice session is about bringing the rhythms of each of those into harmony.
That’s why Tai Chi and qigong can be so powerfully restorative.
So, if you take a couple of minutes to just “settle in,” you’ll discover several possible things:
- Your overall energy level.
- What feels active and open.
- What feels stuck or sluggish.
- Specific body parts that are calling out, in good or bad ways.
Finding New Space in the Feet
The other day, I was settling in to practice and the soles of the feet really stood out (sorry!) from everything else.
Specifically, the toes were hanging from the feet in a way that reminded me of this famous photo of workers having lunch on the beam of the Empire State building. Weird, right?
Here’s what I think was going on:
- My ankles were relaxed, allowing the balls of the feet to connect to the ground.
- The spaces between the toes opened up, allowing the individual toes to release.
- I could feel each toe “hanging” and connecting the ground too.
And why was that like the workers on the beam?
The more I stood and moved with this feeling, the more the ball of the foot — the beam — became a support structure I could sink into. The more I sunk into the ball of the foot, the more the toes — all the workers up there on the beam — relaxed and let go.
And finally, and this is the part that would freak me out if I were ever anywhere near the top of the Empire State building, the more I relaxed the more it felt like there was infinite space for my feet to relax down into.
Isn’t that what’s so amazing about the photo? The way that the workers are so relaxed and grounded, but they’re dangling over hundreds of feet of empty space?
Creating Your Own Big Sensations from Tiny Spaces
Now, I don’t want you to go try to reproduce this sensation. Remember, I didn’t set out to do it either. There is a way to practice that makes it more likely that you will have similar experiences, though.
The more time I’ve spent getting familiar with interior space, through Standing Qigong, the more these spaces have opened up.
The trick is to go in with the goal of feeling, not necessarily “opening” or “releasing” or “sinking.” Those are all techniques that evolve from feeling.
First you feel, then as the structure, space, and relationships between areas of the body become more familiar, and your overall intention of sinking or rising meld with the well-mapped areas, experiences like this one just seem to pour out from deep inside the body.
Have you bumped into anything like this in your own practice? I’m always curious to hear!