When you’re practicing something, whether it be a musical instrument or typing with your fingers for example, do you feel the need to jump around or use force to thrust yourself across the threshold, to acquire the skill?
Before you even begin to practice, notice whether you are anxious to get somewhere or whether you are compelled to learn it quickly.
The force you’re using perpetuates the tension inherent in the way you are living your life right now.
This is the trap. This is like the prison cell, where you are the prisoner. And instead of being patient in your practice, you push yourself in an effort to acquire the skill quickly. This is not how you should approach the practice of Tai Chi.
When you employ your will in an effort to achieve a predetermined goal, whether it be a pose in yoga or a posture in Tai Chi, you exert a lot of your energy to get there – by stretching your body and forcing yourself into that position.
All that you’re doing is violence to yourself.
Then, there’s the belief that you have to fix yourself or improve yourself, which is a very limiting way of viewing yourself. Instead of feeling compelled to learn Tai Chi quickly or acquire more knowledge or information about it, think about it as entering into deeper listening. And slow down.
Practice is about giving the care it deserves. Practice is about giving the time it needs to grow into fruition.
Whatever skill you are acquiring, practice is the time you create for yourself.
It’s not the leftover time at the end of the day.
It’s not the time that you can afford to use.
It is the way you detach yourself from the pressures of time. This is how you practice Tai Chi. By giving yourself the time it takes to do it.
And it’s not how you quickly finish the form. It is that you are just getting started. By starting, you are embracing the present moment without the ambition to change.
Change doesn’t need ambition to function.
Change can happen all by itself. Instead, embrace the present without tensing toward accomplishment.
In other words, just begin your journey.
Tai Chi is not a practice of beating your body into shape. In that regard, all that you would be doing is violence to yourself, rather be kind and gentle to yourself. That is the practice.
Tai Chi is an art where you begin by being in your beautiful body.
When you think this way, there is no need to rush. The whole process just slows down and you may feel the whole world slowing down with you. When you practice Tai Chi, there are many more frames per second of conscious awareness, empowering you to live in the moment.
The process of self-mastery.
When you’re able to create more frames per second of time, you slow time down and you get to see more than you would if you were rushing through life.
You cannot get there by simply doing. In fact, Tai Chi practice makes it immediately clear how your efforting impedes or constrains you.
Typically, when you learn a skill, you focus on the activity or behavior… not what is actually taking place inside your own experience.
So when you shift your attention into your listening, you become aware of your feeling and sensing. It is just like playing an instrument. You cannot play what you do not hear. So extend your presence by listening into your body and then listening to what is around you. You then will be able to grow your capacity to learn and mastery comes naturally.
So let’s practice Tai Chi and consider each posture as a learning environment for self-mastery.
In the beginning:
1. Sink into your right foot.
2. Step with the left.
3. Shift the weight.
4. Turn in, and exhale. Let go.
Then in the opening:
1. Energize, and expand out.
2. Exhale, relax, and sink back down.
3. Energize the fingers up in front of you.
4. Relax back down, and let everything go.
1. Turn, and energize. One hand faces the other.
2. Shift the weight.
3. Step, exhale and energize. Make space for yourself.
4. One hand faces the other. Turn, step, exhale and energize. Make space.
2. Shift the weight back. Exhale, relax, and energize to the shape.
Press and push:
1. Shift the weight forward, exhale and energize. Press.
2. Move back and open. Exhale. Energize and push.
Next set of movements:
1. Shift your weight back.
2. Wind up and unwind. Open out, expand.
Last set of movements:
1. Step, drop and exhale.
2. energize, cross hands.
3. Relax back down. Let everything go.
What if you can feel both at home in your body and more fully alive in your life?
What if you can feel ever more present in each moment of your physical, emotional, and spiritual experience now that you know the importance of practice?