Tai Chi is . . . .

In case you were wondering …

“Learning tai chi is a process of continual growth in skill and knowledge. It is a matter of sharpening our powers of observation and cultivating greater awareness of the manner in which we move. It also creates opportunities to cultivate insight into one’s self.” PTR

Tai chi and staying alive

For so many of those among us, living is defined by a struggle to stay alive. Things such as illness that we never asked for, or consequences of actions (our own or those of others) that jeopardize our health. Drugs, guns, food, fast cars, whatever. Furthermore, as we age, it seems that’s the definition of life: staying alive.

I began tai chi for the purpose of staying alive. I continue practice for the same reason. It gives me a tool to help get back on track. It’s not a cure all, but it helps when we add to it an effort to figure things out. By figuring out how to do tai chi we are learning how we might figure out how we got where we are in life. And how to break free of the cognitive constraints that hold us back from healing wounds obtained in the process of living.

The process is one in which you travel into deeper realms of awareness of the self, by the very process of intending to be more aware. To use the senses to wake up to what is around you, so to speak. To see more of what your physical is made up of, and the way your energetic structure works, and the presence of the more ethereal realm of the mind and spirit, for which words fail to provide a material nature.

Good at tai chi? How about life itself?

Being good at what you do for a living, or even the best, doesn’t make you good at everything else in life. Too Bad. Would be nice if it did.

New book offers novices and beyond activities, concepts for practicing tai chi

I’ve been immersed in writing a book for a few months this spring, which explains my lack of posting. It’s published now and I hope to renew my blogging.

“At its core tai chi is a practice, a routine activity that you engage in, in order to improve and maintain specific kinds of movement for a multitude of results, such as for overall health and longevity.” This statement in my new book, Practicing Tai Chi: Ways to enrich learning for beginner and intermediate practitioners, offers ways to think about a tai chi practice and to learn a few techniques from tai chi movements.

It’s a brief learning aid that I wrote to instruct and inspire, but also to have as a reference to keep handy for reviewing concepts related to an authentic tai chi practice. It’s really about the process of learning tai chi, or as I say: “learning how to learn” tai chi.

Book on practicing tai chi
A learning aid for new practitioners

I share perspectives on what tai chi is, why do it, how to do it, and ways to integrate it into daily life. Learners who have already begun tai chi and have some knowledge of its basics will get the most out of this book. It is not meant to replace or compete with other books on the commonly addressed subject matter of tai chi. It’s more of a companion to practice.

Amazon has print copies in paperback right now and a Kindle version (lower price) should be available, too. If you read it, your comments here would be welcome or perhaps a review on Amazon.

You can read a free preview by clicking this link.



Adapt to change with tai chi

Tai chi is a tool for adapting to changing conditions. Change prevails wherever you look. The weather changes. The wind blows, doesn’t blow, blows hard, then is a breeze. The temperature is hot, cool, cold. It’s raining or it’s dry. Grass is green and moist, or brown and maybe tinder dry. A tree never stops growing. It’s always at some point of changing from a sprout to a tree. Even a desert plant that seems never to grow is active in its own way. Water flows in a stream or river. It is never the same river, they say. People change. We flow, or stumble, through emotions all day and even through our dreams at night. Change prevails. Tai chi is a method of adapting to change by focusing on the act of change itself.

It seems human beings are the only ones who want things to stay the same. Sometimes we call it the “status quo,” sometimes simply inertia. Not that it’s a bad thing—it’s serves its purpose. But some things we hold onto no longer have purchase in a ever-shifting world. They are not serving other than to hold us back from evolving. Staying the same will not always protect us from the onslaught of the constant flux that surrounds us. The whole universe is in constant flux. Time itself seems constant, yet it is nothing if not constantly changing, moving ever out of the moment into another. The present is not the same now as before.

We can change what and how we think and we do it all the time. Rather than thinking you want things to stay the same, you can want them to find equilibrium—balance. That balance is what taijiquan attends to.

Tai chi still requires adapting and shifting with the tides, but it gives you a way to do that.

Many beginners who give up before reaching a threshold of practice view tai chi as too much to learn. You tell yourself that you’ll never be able to learn all that. As a teacher, I have had many difficult moments trying not to blame myself for that thinking. I want to make tai chi available to as many people as I possibly can, but they quit before they learn enough to see what it offers them. I know now that tai chi hasn’t failed them, nor have I, rather they have failed to see the potential for themselves, electing to go the same route that has led them away from a personal evolution.

I don’t blame them, even though change is easier than they think. The key is to approach it with a mind of taking small steps and learning a little at a time and building a bunch of little pieces of knowledge and ability upon previous learning. One day you’ll look back and see a massive body of knowledge buoying you up.

It’s not a matter of overcoming inertia as much as acting in spite of it. Inertia seems much more overwhelming than possible to overcome. Too great of a mass of resistance. And yet, often the simple act of standing in Wuji, the first posture of tai chi, is enough to set you off on a new path of awakening.


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Pure, clear, strong and free

I have to remind myself often of this. If I don’t, my conviction wavers.

Pure heart,

Clear mind,

Strong body,

Free spirit.

Mind-body health goes both ways

I tend not to feel good unless my body feels healthy and strong. My mental health is influenced by my physical health. It goes both ways, of course. People seek out feeling good through artificial means, such as drugs, pain killers, mind altering chemicals, and other forms of mediated reality. But they don’t usually give the body itself everything it needs, which is strengthening exercises.

Even if it’s just walking, which is as good as anything else. Walking, or hiking, can round out a complete exercise practice along with a package of various practices, such as stretching, qigong, single-basic exercises and tai chi form.

Don’t take my word for it. This is just my personal opinion. Take a walk. Walk until you have shifted your view from yourself to the countryside. By then your mind will be cleared and your body will feel better.

A special key to internal movement

Do you know what is so special about internal movement arts? Control. Mind control specifically. That’s where it begins. You focus your attention on a focal point in the body, initiate movement in certain directions and shapes, then sustain that focus. Control the mind and the body follows.

Control doesn’t mean just to hold some place still. It means being more capable of effecting change. It’s very important to realize that control is not about maintaining status quo, it’s about overcoming inertia.