Directing the Flow
Once you begin to experience the flow of Chi in your body, the next thing you want to be able to do is direct that flow, which is not only beneficial for your health, but necessary to any type of application, be it Martial Arts, healing, or higher level applications.
Start first by using your eyes. In the beginning stages of this kind of practice, where you look with the eyes is where the energy will tend to flow. A good way to start doing this is to have the eyes a little ahead of where your hand is moving. Take a form like Slanting Flying for example. As you move the hand up and out on a diagonal, keep the eyes just ahead of the fingertips, as if using the eyes to "pull" the hand along with them. This will help to focus on where you want the energy to go.
If you are doing a form that does not have a lot of hand movement, then you can simply look in the direction you are going to move. For instance in a form like Inward Holding Tiger, look to the right as you move to the right. Then look to the left as you reverse and move to the left. The idea in all this is to let the eyes "lead" the energy where you want it to flow, in a directed manner. Not only will this help strengthen the flow, but it will also help you to learn to send the energy where you want it to go.
Eventually, you will want to progress past this point and not have to rely so much on the eyes. In the next step, you want to start to use the mind to direct the Chi flow; as the Taichi Classics say, "the mind drives the Chi and the Chi drives the body". To do this, start with simple steps. Take Wardoff as an example; as you move forward, imagine a point several inches in front of your forward arm and try to flow out that far in front of you as you move forward. Do not try and do this at too great a distance at first, but as you are more successful, gradually increase that distance. As you move backward, do the same thing, but this time behind yourself. Not only will this help direct the flow, but it will also help to start extending your energy outward.
As you get more successful at this, you should experience a stronger flow, and more of a light, floating sensation in your forms. At this point, you can try practicing with the eyes closed and use the mind to drive the flow and not rely on the eyes at all. Your goal is to let the Chi move you, rather than relying on just physical motion in your movements, or your eyes to direct the flow. You want to use flow to drive your forms, and let your true feeling to be your guide.
Be very patient and work through this step by step. If you do this in a diligent manner, only progressing to the next step when you are successful at the previous one, you will begin to see a real quality improvement in your practice. Always remember in Taichi that the quality of what you do is much more important than the quantity that you do. Hours of practice are not as effective as shorter periods of good quality practice. You must be calm, relaxed and focused in order to truly benefit from your practice. Always keep these points in mind and your results will be well worth the time you put in.