Many of the questions asked about Taichi revolve around how to properly begin and end practice, so this month we will look at some of the important details to help begin your practice properly and end it so that you do not let the energy you have generated "leak off ".
When beginning your practice, after doing your warm-up exercises, (turning the head side to side, rotating each shoulder forward and backward, turning at the waist), go into your Preparation Form and place the palms over the Dan Tian, fingertips pointing down 45 degrees. Place your awareness first on the very middle of the palms, and try to feel a point there. The smaller the point that you can feel the better. Next, try and connect the feeling of these two points with the Dan Tian by "beaming in" to the Dan Tian from these two points, as if forming a triangle with the two points in the palms and the Dan Tian.
Next, you want to feel a Taichi Ball forming in the Dan Tian area, starting from a small point and expanding until it fills the Dan Tian area. Take your time and go slowly, and when you feel the ball fill the Dan Tian, let it expand, pushing the palms out with it as it expands outward. If you lose the ball, start over, making sure you keep a good strong sensation until the ball is all the way out. At this point you are ready to begin your practice with whatever form you may choose to start with.
To finish your practice, you want to again be aware of these same three points. First, form a Taichi Ball, making sure that the points in the two palms are connected to each other. After a good practice, you will have a really well charged Taichi Ball, and you want to put this charged up Taichi Ball back into the Dan Tian. Move the hands as if sliding to the front of the ball, palms toward you. Connect the points in the palms to the Dan Tian and then, push the ball back into the Dan Tian by bringing the elbows back toward you until, once again, the palms are over the Dan Tian.
Now you want to continue to let the Taichi Ball shrink, keeping the palms over the Dan Tian. Allow the Taichi Ball to shrink down into as small a point as you can imagine. During your practice you generated a good strong signal so now you want to put it back into the Dan Tian and store it. It is like a solar cell generating energy and then putting it in a battery to store it, otherwise, you let it all dissipate. Once you have shrunk the ball as small as you can, slowly let the hands come back to your sides.
So when beginning and ending your practice keep these three points, (palms and Dan Tian) in mind. This will ensure that you get a good strong start to your practice, and reap the full benefits of it at the end. Both starting and finishing properly are very critical to your continued progress.