When you begin your Tai Chi practice, you’ll often rely on your visual perception to make your postures. What this means is you’ll see a posture and you take the shape of it. This is how you learn, but this is not how you practice Tai Chi.
For many students that begin Tai Chi, they practice the postures in a strictly physical manner. They access only the posture’s outline using their bodies to fulfill an intended shape – whether it be a push or single whip. For them, Tai Chi is similar to physical exercise and an expression of their outer body.
However, Tai Chi is not just a practice of the outer body, it’s also a practice of the inner body.
How do you connect to the inside of yourself?
In my practice and learning, I’ve encountered the same limitations as other students have in the beginner’s class. When I did my posture, I would typically feel the muscles in my legs straining. I’d also be working my upper body and arms but they remained essentially quiet, even though there was still some tension there as well.
With more practice, I was able to get feedback from my physical positions, which told me to let go into the shape and not worry so much about working myself into the shape. For example, instead of bending my knees, I would let go of my tailbone to help me drop into position. In short, my perception went primarily from the outside in.
My Tai Chi postures gained a measure of an inward three-dimensional depth, and I did so without flexing my muscles. As a matter of fact, in Tai Chi practice, there is no real use of your muscles. Instead, you awaken a sense of energy from within, and this awakening serves as a door to a new realm of possibility where you can self-sense and self-renew.
How can you perceive your inner world?
How do you sense yourself?
Start by connecting to the inside with your sixth sense.
What is the sixth sense? There are nerve cells embedded in the tissues of your muscles, joints, and tendons, communicating with your brain, and orienting your body to its movement and position. These cells help you to sense, evaluate and respond to stimuli around you.
The cells or sensors are all over your body and they make up your sixth sense. By practicing Tai Chi, you are enhancing the body’s ability to provide you with information about your inner world, a world in which you alone inhabit. Tai Chi gets you into an optimal state of self-sensing, self-correcting, and self-organizing awareness that allows you to participate in life with coherence. This is done through the sixth sense.
There are five other senses:
These five senses are just there to provide you with data or information about the outer world. But don’t forget, you also live in the inner world. Tai Chi practice provides you with three main sources of input to help you feel your inner world.
1. The first input is the feeling of movement derived from all skeletal structures and muscular structures. This is called kinesthesia. Ever since you were a fetus in the womb, you were developing your movement alongside the development of your senses. There is a direct correlation between your senses and your movement.
2. The second input is the impressions that you get from your internal organs. This is called visceral feedback. This is your instinct. It’s the instinct an animal feels when there’s danger coming. It starts to prepare for that danger. Instinct is a way of sensing the energy around you.
3. The third input is a feeling of balance as related to your position in space. This is called vestibular feedback.
You have kinesthesia, visceral and vestibular feedback, all in Tai Chi practice. All three contribute to your level of awareness and ability to sense.
How you sense yourself is called proprioception. These three sources contribute to your having a sixth sense.
When you use the five senses, such as sight, you’re bound by and become identified with the 3D reality that you see. For example, when you look at yourself in the mirror, you already have an image and you’re bound by that image.
By contrast, when you use the sixth sense, you sense life differently, and you sense it from the inside out. You sense it with freedom and aliveness.
Let’s do some Tai Chi and move from the inside out.
1. Start by sinking into your feet.
2. Step with your left foot.
3. Shift the weight.
4. Turn in, and exhale. Relax. Let go.
1. Energize the fingers up in front of you.
2. Exhale, sink back down.
3. Energize the fingers.
4. Relax back down, empty. Let everything go.
5. Energize, turn.
6. Shift the weight.
7. Step with your left foot.
8. Put your left foot down. Exhale.
9. Energize to make your shape. One hand faces the other.
Remember if you’re a beginner, you’ll try to take shape once you see a posture. Instead, focus on the inner being to create movements.
10. Turn your body to the right.
11. Step with your right foot, and exhale all the way. Let go.
12. Energize to make your shape.
13. Relax back down and let everything go.
Let everything fall.
So what if you can activate your sixth sense and other sensors in your body? What are these other sensors? Find out by signing up for an Online Tai Chi Class today.