Exploring Your World within
I was practicing my Tai Chi Form in New York City Central Park in the summer of 2015 when a martial art instructor said that my Tai Chi form looks good, but it was not fluidity enough. He said, "As I was looking at you while practicing, I notice that you were starting and stopping at every move."
I was annoyed by his comment, which causes me to reflect on a similar statement by a new student to my teacher, Sifu Gim, of H Won Kim Institute. Paraphrasing, "Why that student over there stop after every pasture within the form."
Sifu's answer was, "You don't know what he is working with on the inside. Not because you cannot see what he is doing doesn't mean that he is stopping".
After many years of practice, I can honestly say that I forgive myself for condemning the martial art teacher for his misunderstanding. No one can see my moving meditation except myself, the observer within. His statement was encouraging. It empowered me to dig deeper into the sea of pearls.
While I was still receiving Tai Chi Form transmission from Sifu, I purchase a Tai Chi magazine, curious to read the catchy headline title about knee injuries. A Chi Kung Instructor was explaining his experience with knee pain after years of Tai Chi Chuan studying. As a result, he came up with a preventive solution.
He suggested that practitioners should adopt the 70 - 30% rule. In a forward stance, 70% of the body weight should be in the front leg and 30% in the supported back leg. His solution to prevent knee injuries might work to a certain degree, but is misleading as to own is supposing to be doing the observing.
My question was, how in this third-dimensional world can a student know that he or she is 70- 30 or even close to it?
Behind Your Eyes
The dynamic stance and the ( Classical Yang Family Style ) form are the foundation to understand the mechanics behind Push Hand. It is like looking at a tree and assuming that the tree is not moving base on our view of the world.
We have no idea what is happening within its structure or what is going on beneath its roots but consider the spiral elongated cylinder shape of any trees. You have to wonder within yourself what is going on in the world of the unseen.
Look from behind your eyes, and nature will take you on a journey of self-exploration. Trees must be spiraling from their roots in a certain way that forms their shape.
As they spiral up to the heavens, their roots produce many veins the spread below in all directions.
There is a network of intelligence and power beyond measure happening beneath the earth. For example, it is incredible to see how a single thread from a plant seed burst through a concrete or makes its way around a rock.
The physical eyes cannot see what is happening inside the practitioner's physical body, looking at their Tai Chi form expression. Observing proper instruction by a master eliminates the illusion of weight shifting measurement.
All of nature moves in a spiraling in and out dimensionally from its core. There are reasons to believe that the human body act on the same principle.
A whirlwind runs across a plain, for example, vacuuming everything in its path. A cow, cars, building materials, stones, sticks, you name it, all get sucked into the center of it.
Here are four physical and psychological principles to consider that frame the Tai Chi form. There are Centering, Alignment, Relaxing, and Balancing.
As I understand it, Centering is having one mind visualizing vertical and horizontal lines of energy in Alignment to heaven and earth. The practitioner stance must be in alignment hip-width apart with the spine's bottom tip, aiming to the center back between both heels.
The top of the head should have a feeling of been lifted by an imaginary string.
A Relaxed body and mind are essential to experience Balance within the form.
Remember, the mental and psychological body is energy, so whatever your attention goes, energy flows.
To observe your movement within the form, you must maintain the principles as you spiral from substantial to insubstantial, which means that you are shifting from full to empty.
Some would say that you are not empty, and there is no argument if you are looking from the outside at the changing from one position to another. As an internal observer within one own practice, a different insight in been experience.
Focusing your attention to shift from where you are, you will not know where you are going. In other words, if you are looking for a shift to occur outside of your body, you will not be able to implement the four principles I maintain earlier.
Patient and diligence in a practitioner's work are critical to experiencing stillness within the form.
Imagine, therefore, that everything between heaven, earth, and within is spiraling in the now.
Wherever you are within your daily practice, remember the Tai Chi form is a pathway that provides an opportunity to observe the vastness of the Grand Ultimate within your body temple. Those observers on the outside, trying to understand this fantastic spinning art, waste fruitless energy.
Allow yourself to become the observer of your inner world of self-discovery.