Tai chi is not a scheduling thing

Lan Shou Quan powerstretching
Master Ye Xiao Long

I  know a man with a heart condition who practices tai chi to help with his health. For years, he has occasionally attended a weekly group class, sometimes regularly. Tai chi helps him, he says. I applaud and respect him for this, but I think he doesn’t practice enough. Considering his circumstances, regular consistent daily practice offers more.

Even a few minutes a day are helpful. People have a hard time getting themselves to do even minimal practice daily. It’s a scheduling thing for many. I don’t want to waste time trying to answer the question of why. All I know is that you experience magic when you practice in earnest regularly over time.

(I need to define “earnest practice” later.)

My point is that, for some, practice is as necessary as drinking water and eating. It is life-generating at a deep level of our being. We all understand this in our own ways. For some it’s a religious experience; for some a scientific approach is more effective for learning. Many stumble in blind faith that we have chosen the best path for ourselves, trusting the teacher or whatever, . . . . then you realize in your practice one day, suddenly, in a passing moment, that you were right and its riches are vaster than you imagined.

The possibilities have always been there…

You didn’t see them. Priorities are no good if they’re in the wrong order. You come to a point in practice when you see possibilities that were not obvious. Reaching this point is a matter of trust at first. You have to go on what you have seen of tai chi masters performing acts that challenge your assumptions and imagination. Or even just watching people doing form in a park. Graceful and beautiful only begins to describe it. Iceberg. Tip.

I wonder why we don’t see the obvious sooner. Not knowing why, I remind myself to focus on how to perceive more clearly what I know I must be missing. As a student and teacher of Tai Chi, or Chinese Internal Martial Arts, I must ask these questions and seek answers. Everyone of us should. This is the art and study of internal energy.

One clear possibility for daily practice, in my friend’s case, is that he will live much longer and enjoy reasonably good daily health in the time that remains. Maybe he sees that and 90 minutes of tai chi a week is gratifying enough. He does say it’s hard to schedule more practice because he is so busy. I hate to think of tai chi in competition with life’s other activities. Activities are in competition with life! Life is a competitive sport. Go figure.

Tai chi is not a scheduling thing, so stop constraining it to a schedule. Schedule death if you want. Life is now.

My friend’s life is clearly at stake, whether he accepts it or not; but the rest of us are in similar circumstances. Life is shorter than we think. Ironically, we seek life-generating activities; thus, we travel abroad to visit family and friends and exotic places. Yet, something escapes our attention and we neglect to fully honor the gift of life. This is universal and something to wonder about.

Tai chi is life-generating. My body speaks to me of its gifts however often I practice. If we neglect to honor these gifts, it’s not because we don’t recognize them, rather something holds us back from fully accepting this truth and actively incorporating it into daily life.

That “something” …what is it?

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