Connect, Attach and Follow
The next step in developing your Two Person practice is to focus on connecting, attaching and following. These three elements are vital to your progress in Two Person practice, and should be given a lot of attention before moving on to more advanced aspects of your practice. Each should be focused on one at a time and given sufficient attention before moving on to the next concept.
Start with connecting. One common mistake made when doing Two Person practice is not connecting properly. As you stand across from your practice partner in Preparation, relax and begin to flow. Take time to completely calm down your mind and body, and focus on feeling the flow of your Chi. Do this for as long as you need to until you are fully relaxed and ready to begin. Now, both should send their energy out and connect to each other. At this point you can work on feeling this connection by gently rocking side to side. Start with one person leading and the other trying to feel the connection and follow. As you rock to the right, so will your partner, "mirroring" your motion. Hold your hands palms facing outward, as if you are both holding a large Taichi Ball between you if you have trouble feeling the connection. Reverse roles so that you both get a chance to feel the connection. Spend a lot of time doing this, until you can feel this connection as soon as you both expand out.
Next you want to work on attaching. After you have made a good connection, step up and attach to your partner in Hands Attaching. As you attach, watch for several things. Make sure you do not pull back as you attach. You should go in and attach to your partner in a nice clean, but soft manner. Do not collide or bounce. You also want to watch for pulling back on the energetic level. Many people attach well physically, but pull back their energy as they come in, breaking their connection. Remember these concepts are all "cumulative". Once you connect, you must remain connected as you attach. If you lose one or the other at this point, you lose both. It is like two magnets coming together and sticking to each other. To practice this, step up and attach, then step back into Preparation and go through the process of attaching again. Do this over and over until you can attach smoothly with no conflict, no pulling back, while still maintaining your connection.
Lastly, you want to work on following. As a rule, most people have no problem leading when they do their Two Person practice, but as a result, they attempt to lead all of the time. One of the most important skills you can learn from Two Person practice is to follow. One reason we do group practice in a class is so that by following the instructor, the student learns how to follow, first physically, but later, by connecting and following the instructors flow. Two Person helps to fine tune this. In Hands Attaching for instance, as your partner pushes forward, you want to feel that flow and follow it, no resistance, without trying to lead the flow in any way. Then you reverse and give your partner a chance to do the same. You start on the physical level, but as you get better and more sensitive, try to move only when you feel the flow coming forward, and work strictly on the energy level. This takes a lot of concentrated practice over a period of time, so be very patient and diligent. Remember too, that you must remain connected and attached throughout for this to benefit your practice.
If you continue to work on these over a long period of time in a focused manner, you will see a big improvement in your Two Person practice, as well as your energy flow. This will enable you to move on into more advanced concepts of Two Person practice in addition to helping you and your practice partner both raise up your energy levels. This will also prepare you for higher levels of meditative practice.