#8 – Unity of the Internal and External
Yin and Yang again. Internal is generally regarded as Yin and External as Yang. When we are given something it is called receiving. We then interact with this energy, neutralize it, and follow with giving back. I see this action like blowing up a balloon. At first the balloon (our body/mind) is empty. Then it receives the energy in the form of air, and from this internal air pressure, the balloon expands – the external grows. The external can not grow unless the internal grows first.
The internal is usually thought of mind, the external as body. The mind channels the chi (air/energy) and the body fills up, or if needed, the air is let out of the ballon so it will not be manipulated so easily. If the ballon is empty, it is hard to control and doesn’t roll around when pushed.
Every movement is similar. The mind receives a signal and the body responds. The signal can be memorized movements, or free form work with a partner. In every case the unity of inside and outside results in smooth, relaxed movements.
Conditioned Reflex Response
Great Tai Chi Master Pavlov (well he could have been) was an early explorer of Conditioned Reflex Response. His experiments with dogs are well known. He would ring a bell, then feed the dog. He did this over and over. At some point he rang the bell, but did not feed the dog, and the dog’s mouth filled with saliva anyway.
This also can apply to our Tai Chi practice. We know through experience, that practicing Tai Chi will bring us certain positive feelings, like integration, calmness, relaxation, balance, focus, etc. So like Pavlov’s dog, when we approach our practice site, we already start to feel these feelings and emotions. The more one practices, the easier it is to have this Conditioned Reflex Response.