People attend my classes to learn tai chi but they are also learning to improve memory. My job is to help them remember. Tai chi is both easy and complex at the same time. Most moves are easy to do, but remembering form sequences, or even single basic moves, is often more difficult. Most learners take months to learn form sections.
Remembering the moves requires a form of memory recall that we are no longer accustomed to utilizing. Why this different way of recall eludes us is a curious thing. On one hand, something seems to block us from remembering, and on the other, we don’t seem to be aware that we can overcome the obstacle of not remembering. I think that often in life we rely on someone else to remember for us what we need to get done everyday and we are merely reminded to do it and our memory facilities are weakened as a result.
Tai chi teaches us to remember for ourselves and offers techniques to help overcome the challenge of remembering what we learn.
Here is a simple technique to help to remember your tai chi lesson. As soon as you get home from practice, try to recall what you just did. Don’t go right back to the same old routines that, ironically, we are trying to disrupt by practicing tai chi. Stand in wuqi and let your body recall anything at all that you did, then take a few minutes to practice that move. How to do it may be written in books or blogs, but only by practice does it manifest.
Taiji offers us a way to cultivate attentiveness to the role of memory in learning and to recall our tai chi lessons, and incorporate them into daily living. The initial effort seems monumental at first, and that’s why I see my instructor’s role as one of showing not just how to do moves and what to remember, but also how to remember.