Practice Principles - II
We will continue our discussion of practice principles this month, using ideas that relate to our forms. Last month we focused on principles relating to our mind. Our forms are more in the physical realm, but also include awareness of our internal energy, which is what the principles this month will mainly focus on.
Our set of concepts that we will look at this month can be remembered by the letters "R S F F". These stand for, round, soft, flow and full. All these concepts refer to your forms, and the state of your internal energy.
First, round refers to your forms, and the fact that your body should be rounded. This means a hollow chest, the wrists slightly curved, palms slightly cupped, knees slightly bent. Remember the Taichi Classics quote, follow the curve to find the straight line. Not only is your body rounded, but so are your movements. This concept is very important to smooth energy flow, not only for good health, but to help you develop all the skills associated with application in Martial Arts, Healing, or Spiritual development.
Next is soft. Here we are working on being very relaxed in our movements. You must relax and suspend to achieve this softness. This is very important in your Two Person practice, in order to have it really be Two Person flow practice. Remember that what you are after is smooth energy flow, whether it is form practice or Two Person, and being soft is essential. As with our concepts last month, these are all related. Roundness allows you to be soft, so remember that these are cumulative concepts.
Flow is our next concept. Fundamental to all phases of your Taichi practice is the ability to flow your energy. Taichi is not a physical art, but rather an internal one. Whether you want to be a Martial Artist, a Healer, or work on Spiritual development, you must have a good strong energy flow. Application refers to the ability to broadcast a signal, or Jing, in order to do this energetic work, but without developing your internal energy flow, you will never be able to develop these abilities. Forms are like the training wheels that help you to develop flow. Once you can flow, then the forms will not be necessary. As I often tell my students, Wardoff is not a form, it is an energy flow. The same applies to Two Person practice. You need another person to help you sense another’s energy, as well as to flow with that other person. It is not about physical pushing, but rather flow.
Our last concept is full. Your energy must be full in order to have power. This is not the same as a physical or mental fullness. Remember from last month, the mind must be clear. Also remember your roundness and softness, as well as your energy flow. All of this makes your energy grow, and become more dense, and this is the fullness that we are referring to here. You need this to drive the signal outward in order to do application. It is the support for this ability, much like a foundation that supports a house. You need a strong foundation or everything will collapse.
You need to start with all we discussed last month, and then do a lot of practice utilizing those principles. If you do not first do that practice, you will not be able to start putting these into your practice. Slow, relaxed, meditative practice is the key here. Incorporating standing, seated and reclining meditation is also a great help in achieving all of these principles. You must be very patient and dedicated in your practice, as this will take time to achieve.
The important thing to remember as we go through all these concepts is that they are all part of a whole, not individual separate pieces. If you drop any one of them, then you will not be able to progress. You have to concentrate on one at a time, but when you move on to the next, you still have to incorporate all that you have learned before. Like building a house you lay your foundation, and then build up, brick by brick. If you make a mistake or leave out anything on the way, it will all fall down. Take your time, be dedicated, and most importantly don’t over do it. Remember, "not too much, not too little".