Some students don’t like explanations. They just want to do form without all the analysis. Some don’t even like visualization. Some don’t even want to do form. But that is okay in the end. Some are more interested in memory health and believe that doing taiji might be good for them as they age. Everyone is different. I call it doing a crossword puzzle with your body as compared to doing a crossword puzzle in your easy chair on a Sunday. We should be out doing body crosswords, and not just solving puzzles, but creating new ones for our selves and others to unravel.
The more immersed practitioners of taiji look for various non-martial applications of the principles of tai chi and qigong. In the past, many masters at a martial art practiced calligraphy or painting. Many still do. Some are master tea connoisseurs. But you can apply this to any creative art, I’m sure. To writing, dance, musicianship, running, swimming, bicycling, even sitting in front of a computer for hours typing things into. It.
But what is it exactly that you are applying? The answer to this question can only be known through practice. Even the most eloquent clear and concise language falls short of being understood without the experience of actually doing tai chi on a regular basis over time.
I heard the Dalai Lama or a Rinpoche visiting my town explain what concentration, mindfulness and contemplation are. Taiji is very much a practice of this, due to its meditative nature. Read on…
Concentration is simple. For example, focus on a shape, or a letter, in your mind’s eye.
Mindful. Mindfulness. The mind wanders. Mindfulness is the effort to catch yourself or see that your attention has wandered away from what it had been intending to become more aware of.
Contemplation. You are able to hold the image of whatever your attention is focused on and receive insights into its nature.
A Rinpoche told a group of us once that Tibetan’s do not distinguish a separation between mind and heart. They are one. This agrees with discoveries in scientific research, as I read on mindfulmuscleblog.com (http://www.mindfulmuscleblog.com/heart-has-consciousness/).
We learn to apply this in practice with Chinese internal martial arts, such as tai chi, xingyi, liuhebafa, bagua. Xingyi translates as “heart-mind.” I would add that the whole body can become aware and conscious in addition to the heart-mind. In all of these internal styles, effort is made to silence the mind of thoughts. You clear the head by placing attention elsewhere in the body, than the “brain” and by giving yourself the task of moving from that point (the dantian). With concentrated, conscious, and deliberate action, you get the mind out of the head and give awareness to the whole body. Every part moves in unison with the whole and the whole moves as the results of the parts moving in harmony. This is tai chi.
Susan A. Matthews has merged her tai chi practice with her studies in how the brain works and many people are benefiting from it. It’s good to know that these things are happening in our world despite the presence of forces that intend the contrary.