Integrating and Balancing
As we again approach the end of the year, you may want to review the Year End Yin article from last year, which gives some points about practice this time of year. Each season has it’s energetic characteristics, and you can benefit from matching your practice to those characteristics. In addition, let’s look at another important aspect of your practice, integrating and balancing, and some of the forms designed to help with this.
Many of the forms that you learn are designed to help you achieve a specific type of energy flow, such as Wardoff energy, Press energy, or a directional flow like Upward - Downward, or Inward - Outward. These help you feel these energies and begin to move your internal energy, which is an important starting point in terms of achieving flow. There is another important class of forms that is designed to supplement these, by balancing your energy.
For example, there is Right and Left Side Holding Taichi Ball. This form helps you to balance the energy on both the right and left side in addition to developing a good substantial Taichi Ball. Most people are "energetically lopsided", and forms like this help to even out those imbalances. Related to this is Twisting Taichi Ball, which not only works on balancing the energy on the right and left side, but also the ability to split a Taichi Ball into two. Both should be equally strong and balanced, but since there are two Taichi Balls, this is another step up in difficulty. Then you put them back together to integrate the energy again. This splitting and reintegrating of the energy is an extremely important part of your practice, as you have to do it in so many aspects of your practice.
Some forms are designed to balance and integrate very specific aspects of your energy. Two examples are Water Form and Fire Flame Palm. A little theory is in order here. You work on connecting your crown point to heaven or sky energy, which is represented by the trigram containing three solid yang lines. Your bubbling well points on the feet connect to the earth, represented by the trigram with three broken yin lines. When these two exchange their center lines, you get fire, (sun, yang), which is a solid yang line on the bottom, a broken yin line in the center, and a solid yang line on top, and water, (moon, yin), which is a broken yin line on the bottom, a solid yang line in the middle, and a broken yin line on top. These are the two aspects of man, and thus an important part of your energy field. You need to keep these balanced and integrated, and Fire Flame Palm and Water Form do just that. As you can see these forms are very specific in this regard, as they are designed to work on those two energies. For instance, in the winter you may feel an imbalance toward the water aspect, and can balance it off by doing Fire Flame Palm practice.
This practice is a supplement to your regular form practice, and should be done regularly to keep everything not only in balance, but to keep a good, strong integrated energy field. As you progress in your practice, you will need to learn more specialized practices like this, in order to continue to progress to higher levels in your Taichi practice. As yet another year draws to a close, I wish you all well, and continued growth in your practice.