Every student of Tai Chi and other internal arts has heard the word ”Relax” countless times. Each time I say this word I see students tense up slightly in trying to find relaxation in their body. We have placed more tension in the mind by putting this pressure on the student.

The Chinese say “Sung”, which has much the same meaning, but is more of a dynamic state than relaxation implies. I have started to replace the word “relaxation” with two words – calm and comfortable. These words somehow do not cause as much anxiety for students, and yet convey the feeling we are seeking to achieve. These words let the student be who he or she is now and still leaves room for improvement.

Say these two words to yourself and see how you feel. They might work better than “relax”.