Tai Chi is one thing, you just ‘do’ it.
Students often remark that on one hand we say this, but then we give them a list of things to remember when ‘doing it’ and they end up getting stressed trying to do all these things at once.
A list might be:
Stand straight and raise the crown of the head.
Put the tongue to the top palette.
Spiral the feet to the floor.
Release the ankles, knees and hips.
Release and lengthen the spine.
Sink the chest.
Open the lower back.
Move and breathe from the Dantien.
Flex the 5 bows…
And so on, as you progress, the list gets longer and longer.
So how do we relate working with this list to just ‘doing’ Tai Chi?
It’s like driving your car, when you first start you have too many things to remember, accelerator, clutch, brake, gears, mirrors, steering, other cars, road signs and markings, pedestrians, other vehicles and so on – and yet you now just get in your car and ‘drive’.
All the different aspects, that long list you were originally given by your driving instructor in the end meld into one thing – driving.
And so it is with Tai Chi, in the beginning you have a basic set of skills to remember, when you have been training for while you just ‘do’ Tai Chi and you notice anything that is not right and adjust as you go along. This skill is important to stop you from going mad!
We practice Tai Chi to de-stress and get healthy, to improve our skill level and for the technical applications so it’s important to not lose sight of that purpose. It’s one of the most magical, invigorating, calming forms of exercise possible – and yet some people manage to include it in their list of things that make them more stressful!
Once you develop that mindset of just ‘doing’ Tai Chi your alert, focused, sensitive and intense mind watches and enjoys the process. It will automatically pick up the good and bad as you go along and adjust where necessary, along the way, this means that you will always want to train and when you do it is always a pleasure de-stressing and invigorating you daily.
There are times that you will pick parts of the form that you find particularly difficult and once again go through the ‘list’ process to get it right, there is nothing wrong with this, in coaching we call the just doing it and adjusting as you go along ‘shaping’ and working to that list ‘chaining’ – two methods of learning and both are essential at different times, but if you only ever work to the links on that chain and never join them up and also practice ‘shaping’, you will never make it!
You can drive (badly) with a dull, distracted mind but with Tai Chi it’s essential to use the posture and breathing to keep the mind aware, focused, sensitive and intense to increase both the pleasure and learning process – and of course it will also improve your driving!