We have often heard people say: “I feel like I have a void in my life.”  Perhaps you yourself have said it at one time or another.

Generally, many of us say it after a rather heartfelt loss or disappointment.  Something that has filled our lives – a loved one, a job, or a dream – is suddenly gone, and we feel the empty space inside that is left behind.

This emptiness brings us sadness, loneliness and in some cases depression.  We start to look for ways to fill the void.

Feeling sad, depressed?  Find a therapist or go on a cruise.

Feeling stressed from the pressure at work?  Head to market and pick up some munchies, grab a cigarette or a café latte.

Put all that weight back on?  Join a different gym or buy the next fad exercise DVD advertised on late night TV.

Lost a job?  Fill out an unemployment claim then load up on lottery tickets.

Lost a relationship?  Try eHarmony or head to the local watering hole to drown your sorrows or maybe luck out and meet Mr. or Ms. Right.

We will attach to almost anything that can either stimulate us or numb us so that we can ignore the void, the emptiness inside.  Some of us try to fill the void with food or drink, with drugs, with sex.

But what we wind up ignoring is the fact that the void, itself, is a blessing in disguise – not for what new and creative measures we take to fill it. That will only put us back on the merry-go-round of illusion, never to come face to face with reality.

What most of us have come to “think of” as reality is nothing more than a projection of our thoughts, which are, in fact, unreal.

But that void inside is our only reality.  It is our original nature as any seasoned Buddhist or Taoist meditator will tell you.

Instead of trying to fill it with all sorts of compulsive actions or move away from it altogether, we need to go with it.  Follow it wherever it leads us.  Make it a very close friend, so to speak.

The hurts and traumas of life do not have to be debilitating or depressing.  They only bring us to that point when we try to overcome them.  But having the courage to move into the void like an intrepid explorer descending into a fathomless cavern can not only free us from the illusions of life but bring us face-to-face with our true selves.

In meditation, in qigong, in our tai chi and other nei jia practices, following the void and always keeping it before us will not only make us whole but will free us from the enslavements that we once desired.

Yes, song is the most important aspect of the internal martial arts (nei jia).  But one size does not fit all.  Having performed taijijuan thousands of times and push hands for the last twelve years or so I have come to realize that song has little to do with relaxation as we Westerners know it.  Instead, song is a combination of yin and yang.  But the ideal song, the ideal mixture of yin and yang is different for everyone.

It depends on many things: your size and physical stature (bone size, thickness of skin, etc.), your conditioning, your flexibility, the condition of your internal organs, the quality of your internal energy and circulation.

For example, a person might be very flexible and have good conditioning and stature, but there circulation might be weak or blocked, so their dantien is unable to store and issue much energy.  Or maybe they have a poor diet, and their body cannot build up enough internal energy.

Some people’s song needs more yang and less yin, and others more yin and less yang.

But I think the greatest factor is our mental song.  If we have too much stress, we will have too much mental yang and not enough mental yin (calm).  People with a lot of depression and sadness have too much mental yin and need more mental yang (joy).

That’s what I realized this morning as I was doing my forms and a memory from way back in childhood suddenly popped into my consciousness.  In order to make real progress one needs to be aware of not only their physical song but their mental song (yin and yang) throughout the day not just while practicing the forms.

One cannot separate their daily life from taiji or taiji and daily life from the Dao.  As Laotse tells us throughout the Dao de Ching, one must try to follow the Way (Dao, Nature) all of the time.