In the classics it says ‘suspend the head’, what most people don’t get is that it is an ‘active’ requirement, this means that you have to actively do this all of the time. This is an act of mindfulness. It lightens and aligns the body making it weightless and mobile, but the moment it becomes inactive – you become a clumsy zombie!
The classics also say that power ‘comes from the feet, is manipulated by the waist and expressed through the hands’. Whatever we do, we always start from the feet, when I touch a student’s arm they resist in a straight line from the arm and when I press harder they try to find the connection in their feet – too late! Again it is ‘active’, the mind should always be in the feet and everything should start from there!
Tai Chi is always a mindful state. There are 168 hours in the week, if you sleep for 50 hours, that leaves 118 hours that you are either alive or a zombie. Alive is mindful. This involves being constantly ‘suspending’ the head starting all movement and resistance from the feet. when touched by another the feet should automatically resist, you should not have to look for them! Therefore this mindful state always connects the head and hands to the feet, to suspend upwards there has to be a press downwards and a full connection in between. The feet should spiral into the floor, this gives a double helix through the body, opening the hips (kua) allowing the spine to lengthen and open and means that any resistance is never linear and always curved. This means that you don’t ‘lean against’ pressure and fall over when it is taken away, thus you can ‘ward off’ (peng) an opponent instead of pushing against them.
Try this as an exercise. A line drawn in your mind is 0. Any time that you are not mindful and don’t have your awareness in both your head and your feet is a minus, any time you do is a plus. If at the end of the week you are in the plus, you are on the way to becoming a Tai Chi practitioner if you are in a minus – it’s time to wake up!