Monday Morning Tai Chi Training Tip # 303
Tai Chi means Yin and Yang – and the interaction between the two extremes. We, Tai Chi players, frame all of our physical, emotional, mental, spiritual, on finding balance between yin and yang. There is nothing that is all one or the other. Yin always contains some yang and vice versa. This brings me to the idea of “think” and “thought”.
“Thinking” is yang, active. When thinking, we allow the mind to wander around, grasping at ideas, feelings, emotions – seeking somewhere to land. That is unless we set a specific goal for our mind. In Tai Chi we don’t want the mind to be searching around while we work on our form. It is important to choose a goal, like the gather and release of the kua, or the breath, or applications, etc. That concept is called “One pointed mind”. You set the goal before you start the form, then move into observing mind. Moving from thinking into observing is one of the most difficult tasks we can set for our minds.
“Thought” is yin. It is of the past. If “Thinking” is like a bird soaring with the wind, thought is like an eagle sitting on a branch. Tai Chi is a meditative, internal martial art, movement practice. We want to let go of all thoughts, let the thinking mind relax, and be like a still pond on calm day and just reflect what surrounds it.
A good way to practice “reflective mind” is what I call “I am a camera”. This can be done while playing Tai Chi or anytime, anywhere. You make believe you are a camera and just taking a video of everything you happen to see. No thoughts, no goals, no judging good and bad, right and wrong. Just observe.
What you want to do is train yourself to observe when doing forms. After you are able to do this with the solo form, move into observing mind when doing San Shou (partner form) or Tui Shou (push hands). Weapons forms seem somewhat easier because it is easy to know what you are doing (slicing, poking, blocking, etc). Most Tai Chi players don’t really know what they are doing in the solo form at every moment. It is important that they learn.
So here is a good sequence for learning Tai Chi.
*Memorize the movements and general principles, preferably learning from someone experienced.
*Study the applications.
*Work on one pointed mind by choosing a goal and training the mind to stick to this.
*Let go of thinking, planning. Use observing mind. Play “I am a camera.”
*Share your knowledge with others, and have fun.