Updated: Oct 12, 2022
So, what do we make of this saying? What does it say to you?
To me, “be still as a mountain” means that our postures are so well grounded, so rooted, that we “feel” as solid as a mountain. The mountain is rooted deep in the earth as it reaches the sky; it is incredibly stable as it expands to cover a vast area. The mountain does not have to do anything - it just is. The mountain does not think about what to make for dinner, or what the boss said, or where we have to be by noon tomorrow. The mountain lets go of everything as it settles into the ground. Like an unmovable mountain, we settle into our posture so that we can be pushed from any direction and it does not affect our balance or stance.
Imagine a mountain standing tall in a flat plane. From its heights it can scan the surroundings for miles and into the horizon. When you are the mountain, your awareness and your energy extend far beyond you and into the horizon. These are not just pretty words! When you practice, imagine your hands and feet can reach as far as your imagination can go.
Let’s take a concrete example. Someone is pushing on your arm and you ward them off. Put your mind on where they are touching you and feel the power that you use to ward them off. Now do the same and this time project your energy as far as you can as if you see the horizon from the top of the mountain. Notice the change in power.
Now, do it again, but this time pay attention to what you feel inside. You’ll notice that the more you can expand your energy, the more your internal state changes. The mountain is still, but in Tai Chi we move. Are these not contradictory states? They are not. The meaning is that inside you are still, quiet, peaceful, relaxed, rooted and expanded. On the outside you are moving from posture to posture. People watching you remark on how calm and peaceful you look.
That is “being still as a mountain.”
Written By: Joseph Eber