Tips on developing your tai chi home practice

Often the only thing that stops us from home practice is not knowing where to begin. The simplest thing is to start anywhere, which might be too vague, so I suggest asking yourself what do you remember from class that resonates with you? The answer is do that one thing and go from there with where it leads you. Stand in wuqi and recall a move that your body feels an affinity towards, do it, repeat it over and over if that is all you recall. The first move of form is a place to start.

Do just 20 minutes or 30 or even 10, as fully and completely as possible. Congratulate yourself for what you do accomplish; not as an excuse to stop early or to do less, but for true progress, which is measured by the completeness of the movement and an honest feeling of achievement in your heart.

The idea of where to start can also be thought of as where in the body movement is initiated. This gives you a focus of mind, which is the core of tai chi learning and achievement. Begin by moving from the dantian. Focus your mind on the dantian and move from there.

Dantian is not only a place in the body. It is also a concept that is not constrained to any particular place in the body. It can be placed anywhere. With this notion, you can begin from the center of your body, or anywhere else for that matter. Where you place your attention creates the center around which the rest moves. You can revolve around the solar plexus, or the sole of a foot, for example. I often show learners to move the feet by circulating around the bubbling well, shifting weight in circles around that point. You don’t need to think, just act. This takes concentration and may seem difficult to hold the attention on such a small point, but something about it is subtly relaxing.

Choosing a place to begin is key in helping you develop your home practice. If you need a little push, I suggest visiting www.susanamatthews.com and viewing some of the many free video clips of Sifu Matthews or other masters from China doing very useful movements. You can follow along to get started. Remember what you learn and try doing them on your own at home in the privacy of your practice place. Before you know it, you will have your practice going strong.

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