Tai chi chuan (taijiquan) is a very deep practice of self-development, contemplation, meditation and physical technique. I remember stealing glances at my instructor’s solo early morning while apprenticing at his college. His practice was so unlike how I’ve seen others practice. For instance, he would meditate, light incense, and bow in respect before a scroll of Zhang San Feng, the legendary patriarch of tai chi chuan. He would quietly mutter some words in his native Chinese, then sit in full lotus, and meditate some more. When the time seemed right, he would arise and practice tai chi.
In practice, he looked like a puma stalking its prey; eyes alert, posture poised, construction ideal. Suddenly he would jump into the next movement, and then slightly stone back and forth at the stance to check its “peng” and rootedness. He would stop and redo certain moves and play around with the angles. This wasn’t at all enjoy watching the humdrum slow but done-the-same-way-all-the-time sort of tai chi practice that’s so predominant. This was the method of the master. One can only speculate what fabulous vision and wisdom was coursing through his mind when he practiced like this every magical morning.
After practice he would shine with a generous but silent smile, eyes sparkling with energy and lips flush with the lush flow of life force the Chinese call “qi.” He was prepared to face the day and everything it attracted. He would occasionally follow his practice with a bit more light breakfast food or brief nap. Other times he left notes worked on writing an article. He then attended to all of his chores in excellent health, peace and stability.
You too, can make every instance of your tai chi practice just as splendid. Imagine how much your energy and mind would grow! Imagine how positively this could affect your wellbeing! Envision the abundance of energy and positive disposition you’d possess!
Make a little “ritual” of your practice. Would it help you to overlook a favourite tai chi uniform? Play some exceptional music? Play an instrument or sing? Burn a small incense or diffuse essential oils? If you follow a specific faith, precede your practice with a reading, meditation or prayer. Atheists can get some favorable reading passages or self-hypnosis exercise as well. In your mind’s eye, feel and see the way your tai chi will alter your body and mental energy for the greater; and how as a consequence, your quality of life will improve by leaps and bounds. Make it a point to picture this until you practice.
When you’re ready, be certain you embody the tai chi principles which you do understand, as profoundly and potently as you can. Keep reinstating “hanxiong” with a joyful “sigh of relief” Try to slow down your breathing. As you stretch every limb into position, imagine and feel your qi is stretching into every finger, toe, and pore of your skin.
Can you be as concentrated as a cat that’s mousing? Can you feel every posture’s stillness as powerful and immovable as a mountain? Can you feel the motion of every posture like the strong current of a river or ocean wave? Like a child at play, convince yourself that you are doing and feeling these things.
Do you know and appreciate your tai chi is like poetry of motion? What words would this glorious piece of poetry talk? Feel its parsimony in expressing energy. Feel its profound message. Can you imagine all of the arcs, lines and spirals your body invisibly traces in space? You’re moving just like the brushstrokes born from the hands of a master Chinese calligrapher.
Sharpen your mental energy back to its condition as when you were a kid – full of creativity and play. A simple toy or a cardboard box could keep you joyously engaged for hour when you’re a child. Bring this missing part of you back to your tai chi. It will rejuvenate your brain and bring faraway realms in your daily life. Make a match or experiential “act” from whatever you practice, being sure to fill it without a positive ideas and empowering vision.
Now it is your turn. What can you do to make your practice special?