Flow in Upward Downward
Let’s take what we learned in the article Directing the Flow, and apply it to the form Upward Downward. When you first work on directing your flow, Preparation is a good form, because there is no movement to contend with and you can concentrate strictly on the flow. Upward Downward on the other hand, requires more concentration due to the arm-body movement and coordination.
Start with the circulation in the torso. Focus on the Lower Dan Tian and feel it spin as the energy rises up the spine to the crown point, at the same time the arms are rising to their highest point. As the elbows drop and the arms begin to move down, bring the energy from the crown point, to the tip of the tongue and down the front of the torso, returning to the Lower Dan Tian as the arms complete their motion down. Make sure that these two aspects stay connected, the arm motion and the flow of the energy in the torso, just as you make sure the body rises and sinks in sync with the arms.
When you have gotten to the point that you can do this, then move on to the arms. Start the same way in the Lower Dan Tian and move up the spine, but this time, separate at the point at the center of your upper back and flow out to the fingertips of both arms on the outside of the arms. As the arms come back toward the torso, flow back on the inside of the arms to the wrists then to the elbows as the arms begin to drop back down. Continue to flow back to the Middle Dan Tian, then down the front of the torso to the Lower Dan Tian as the arms complete their motion. This should be done in a smooth, continuous manner, once again, in sync with the body motion.
Next, move on to the legs. Feel the flow going down the front of the legs from the Lower Dan Tian push you up as you rise. At the highest point that you rise to, you want to be at the center of your foot. From here sink and flow up the back of the leg, from the center of the foot, to return to the Lower Dan Tian. Remember to keep this continuous and smooth. As the Taichi Classics say, "Continuous, allowing no interruption". Rising, sinking, flowing up, and flowing down should all be as one. These concepts are vital to all of your practice, no matter what you are doing.
You work on eack of these one at a time and then you put them all together. Think of the crown point, fingertips and the center of the sole of the foot as your "three crown points". So as you rise you go from the Lower Dan Tian to these three points. Make these points as small as possible. Then, from these three points, you flow back to the Lower Dan Tian. Follow the paths as described above as you do this and remember to be very calm and concentrasted as you do so, so that the flow is without any gaps, jumps or interruptions.
Do not rush putting these together. Move on to each variation only when you can do the previous one well. As with all of your Taichi practice, quality is by far more important than quantity. The object is to have this flow begin to happen on it’s own without your having to direct it any longer. This will take time and patience on your part. If you do this well, then you wil be able to apply it to all of your other forms, as well as your meditation. This will then make all of your practice much more productive, what ever your energetic goals may be.