A meaning of “internal”

Different people will define internal in different ways according to their experience. Internal can be described depending on the context and the particular movements you’re engaging. In the context of this post’s topic, I describe it as focusing narrowly on more intricate, or deeper, levels of movement. This practice always leads to the most minute motion deep in your whole being, not just your body. The body is where you point your attention to in the beginning of your practice. But you also have your mind, your “spirit” or “shen,’ and your “Qi,” or energy.

By “internal” I am referring to “life force,” “energy,” Qi, which is what practitioners are trying to connect with. You’re not just learning moves and sets of moves. You’re learning how to feel the energy in any given moment. You’re learning how to be alive in the present moment!

Tai chi practice offers two basic areas of training: learning/memorizing a sequence of moves or form, and cultivating awareness of movement at deeper levels. The first helps to develop the external appearance of movement and the latter develops the internal. Single basic moves allow you to narrow your focus on both in interesting ways. Internal awareness takes more concentration. Not that it needs that much, just that we don’t typically ever focus on that, and require familiarity with it to utilize it more effectively.

At some point, a regular, sincere practice of focusing attention to deeper levels triggers changes in the quality of your movements. Your move may become bigger or more power may come with it. It’s exponential, as in what I’ve heard my teacher, George Xu, say often “minimum effort, maximum results.”

This idea defies what average people usually think. If your long-held thinking has grown static, shallow, and relies on unexamined assumptions you’ll have difficulty picking up on the more intrinsic details of taijiquan. Understanding this boils down to being free in your movement so that you will adjust to the constant flux of the energy of being alive. Let the qi move your body. Let the mind picture the move before you move at all. This might sound deep or even meaningless, but it fits with what I mean.



Getting Original Qi Back

When I talk about my teachers having so much energy from taiji, it has to do a lot with the fact that they save energy more than actually producing it out of nowhere, which seems impossible to the average person. This is one thing every practitioner who practices long enough learns about taijiquan. It’s true, you get only so much Qi (energy) when you’re born and as life progresses you lose it, or at least, lose access to it. But you can get it back, and one stepping stone to do that is by learning to conserve it, not waste it, use the energy you have wisely, and consciously bringing stuck qi back into availability. By doing taiji movement, you clear out superfluous energy, which in turn attracts your original qi and rebuilds it. It’s fantastic to reunite with what is essentially a part of ourselves.

Integrating Free Muscle in Everyday Activities

free the muscles
when wiping a wet glass off with a towel after washing it I found myself with tension, stiff neck, tense shoulders and all the associated muscles … kind of frozen, no qi flowing through or very little.

to catch this in the midst of it happening is an opportunity to let yourself release that tension and let the qi flow … go deeper into your marrow to open the jar, wiped down the countertop or clean the windows.

Cultivate Senstivity with Tai Chi and Qigong

Tai chi cultivates sensitivity to subtle changes in your body and beyond. You may not be very sensitive at first, but with a little effort to pay attention, the moves themselves will offer up very satisfying results. Surprisingly pleasant results arise as our minds open up to new perceptions of what is achievable by practicing simple movements.

Qigong practice also offers sensitivity training benefits. I definitely agree with Masters George Xu and Susan Matthews, who say that Qigong basic movement is important to develop qi, or energy forces. It is very beneficial for developing the mind and physical body to be loose, open, empty free, light, everywhere moving, letting the “qi go through.” Train the mind to ‘look’ for any stuck place in yourself; look for too much yang or too much yin.

“You must develop this in yourself before you can see or create attackable tension in the opponent,” Master Xu says.

The important principle, no matter what style of martial arts you practice, is that qi must move for the physical to move. At the same time, the physical, continuously moving, creates the qi. As Master Xu explains in his new video, “something up/something down, something left/something right, down with up, in with out, forward with backward, sinking with floating, shrinking with expanding, yin with yang must be expressed in all qigong movements in order to create a field of force outside the body.”

You can practice the movements along with Master Xu in his video. He instructs to “practice feeling, not power,” and be continuously reminded of how to apply these principles more and more over time to become more high level.

Subtle insights to doing tai chi with mindful intention

Many intellectualize taiji rather than actually doing taiji. Nothing bad about that except it’s a different knowing than if they had acquired their knowledge by doing taiji. This is a challenge for the mind that wishes to be mindful. Whole body moves as a single unit is one of the first objectives of the practitioner. This is only the beginning step and much more awaits to be discovered. The fun thing is that with consistency different practitioners often arrive at the same understandings through separate paths. And sharing our findings in daily practice is rewarding. With the guidance of a good teacher you move more quickly along your path. But importantly…do taiji with your whole being.

Observe watch listen “ting jing” for where you are not moving everything must move imagine what that means visualize the next move where how how much when to start when to end when to transition into another direction to speed up or slow down to become large or to shrink to dissolve to consolidate to be there to not be there to laugh to be stern forceful and powerful.