But it is possible that Taiji never leaves Wuji and Wuji is always present in every movement.
Taijiquan as a “martial art” is essentially an art of being aware of one’s self in time and moving from a place of stillness, maintaining it in the midst of movement. I understand this place of stillness as “Wuji,” which has many definitions among various philosophical sources: “state of undifferentiated (non)being,” “standing like a mountain,” “unselfconscious oneness,” “empty, yet alive, changeable, agile, quiet.”
“Taiji is born out of Wuji,” the classic states, and it returns to Wuji. Taiji is movement, wuji is empty and still. It is infinity, where one returns to one’s self. Stillness to movement to stillness…. Yin to Yang to Yin and so on. This suggests leaving and returning. Too often we leave and neglect to return. But it is possible that Taiji never leaves Wuji and Wuji is always present in every movement. This is stillness in movement. Your awareness never leaves Wuji even while your body flows in and out of Yin and Yang.
A quiet part of us rests deep within that is aware of everything we experience. It is an ancient part of us, timeless and vast, beyond day and night, light and dark. It seems to sleep while we move through life, going places, doing things, saying things, thinking things, being things. We’ve forgotten it’s there. Taijiquan is a means of recognizing and acknowledging its movement within, of listening to it and reconnecting with it.
Life is something you do between tai chi practices. You might agree. In the very least, tai chi offers a chance to take a break from the usual tracking of daily affairs and distractions that fill our days. In some ways, we find solace in those distractions, whatever they might be, but sometimes we don’t. At such times, it may feel better to do tai chi.
It matters little what the issue might be—jobs, recreation, even an illness or injury in the body’s structure, or organs. Maybe heart and mind. It could be chronic or it could be acute. It could be something you ate or it could be an injury from 30 years ago. If you lapse, for whatever reason, you feel the lack in just a couple of days. That feeling of “I just don’t feel like it today,” loses its punch when you have reached a threshold of body memory, saturated by tai chi practice. I don’t know, maybe tai chi is living and life is something you do, too.
Perpetual learner, deliberate practice, repetition without repetition, intellectual humility, openness to new ways of learning. … They don’t mention taijiquan, but in fits the bill in this BBC article.
“How a ‘beginners mindset’ can help you learn anything”
We are not so resilient as we age. Yet we try to do the same things as when we are young. Thinking it will pass. The pain and discomfort. But our older bodies don’t recuperate as they once did from the beatings we gave them. We are compelled to rethink our strategy. One thing we have at our disposal is to approach movement from new angles. To head off the damage before we do it so we have less to recuperate from in the first place. That means changing habits and habitual practices that cause pain and damage. I insist tai chi is a way to that. It doesn’t get the acceptance that it deserves. So what do you do? Or don’t do? Don’t get up in morning? Couch bomb on off days? Move differently? Eat differently? What works?