Tai chi is the art of doing the best you can with the limitations you have to work with, through, or around. Depending on each individual’s circumstances, whatever condition you have, if you have a functioning mind, you can learn to integrate tai chi into any activity for improving those conditions and circumstances. It may not be easy, but it is possible. A university writing course instructor once said to me: “If it can be imagined, it can be rendered.” This applies in tai chi, as well.
Every movement is different depending on its cause for existence. Different intentions, different muscles, bones, ligaments, tendons, joints and so on. You could be a carpenter, so you move like a carpenter. A baseball player specializes in different muscles than a basketball player. In taiji, you move in ways descended from tradition. Like everything, it is learned, yet it is natural. For me, the taiji form of movement, is utterly unique in its sophistication. It is so whole body. Its benefits are unique in many ways. One quality of taiji movement: it complements other forms of movement. It compares with dance, ballet, singing. The greatest athletes in their finest expressions are doing taiji—swimming, running, walking, skiing and so on.
I read in a treatise on the Tao Te Ching that states to be fully human is to develop a power of attention that “allows the harmonious relationship of the forces of Yin and Yang to take place within one’s own psychophysical organism.” How’s that for a statement on the mind-body connection?
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.
Tai chi is part of the matrix of interaction with life. For some it is the matrix because it redefines the application of so many activities in life, including the essential acts of breathing, standing, walking, sitting, even the state of just being. You can cultivate a tai chi mood that you carry through your day. It is as integral to your day as dressing, putting on shoes and combing your hair.