Tai Chi and the Wall of Resistance

Tai chi makes me think, causes questions to arise … it’s a mystery common somewhat early on in the learning of many who practice regularly for long enough. Feelings, thoughts, insights, and memories suddenly surface to the forefront of our awareness as we practice. Sometimes its surprisingly intense, such as when memories of experiences we would rather forget come up. You might have heard of coming up against a “wall of resistance.” I’ve encountered it myself. It’s a common phenomenon that practitioners will experience in their training when “stuff” is released by virtue of loosening and moving chi. Early on, when trapped chi begins to loosen and memories surface, the reflex reaction is to push them back. An internal conflict takes place. This is the resistance—you fighting with yourself.

When this happens it is wise to continue your tai chi practice. Some people stop, but that delays you from taking the opportunity to learn about what my teacher, Master George Xu, calls “qi go through.” This beneficial releasing makes once-trapped energy available to you once again; which, of course, is a major objective of tai chi practice. A lot of lessons in taijiquan are learned at this point of dynamic tension in which you’re challenged by energy to let it do what it would do if allowed: move, flow, rise and fall, expand and shrink, open and close, fluctuate with outer and inner forces, constantly alive, agile, and free to evolve.

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