Practice Principles - III
This month we will conclude our discussion of essential practice principles with a group of the three most important concepts for you to keep in mind as you do your Taichi practice. As we did in our previous two articles, we will start with a three letter mnemonic to remember these concepts. Our three letters are CHI, easy for anyone who is a Taichi student to remember, and they stand for center, harmony and infinite. Now let’s look at each in detail.
The concept of being centered is essential to any successful Taichi practice. First is developing an awareness of your Dan Tian area, and then, in more advanced stages, actually locating your Dan Tian. Everything should come from, and be centered on, this area. You suspend up from here as well as root down to the Earth, as far as the physical aspects of your practice go. Move from here, everything being connected to this point. Energetically, the same is true. This is where you flow from, where your energy should originate. You do not want to be disconnected and scattered either physically or energetically, so being centered is at the core of your practice.
The next concept, harmony, is often misunderstood. First and foremost, you must be in harmony with yourself. Remember the warning in the Taichi Classics "not too much, not too little". If you violate this, you will no longer be in harmony with yourself. This will cause you to lose your relaxation, root, and/or suspension, as well as cause you physical discomfort. Any time in your practice you feel any tightness or any type of physical stress, you have violated this concept. Always monitor your suspension and root, as well as your body to avoid this disharmony.
As you progress, you want to look at this on the energetic level. You need to develop a high level of sensitivity to succeed on this level. This is one reason why your Two Person practice must be so soft. You can never develop any level of sensitivity if you do not practice in a soft relaxed manner. You want to be in harmony with your practice partner, but even more important, you want to yield to your own energy. Only by yielding to your own energy will you be in harmony with your partner. Your energy knows how to harmonize, so you must be sensitive enough to follow it. You want to do the same in your form practice.
This then, will take you to the next level, which is to harmonize with the energy of the universe. The Taichi Classics talk about "going from no form, to form, to no form". You have no form when you start your studies, so must then go to learning forms to help you reconnect to your energy. As you finally get in the higher, more meditative levels of practice, you harmonize with the universe as you practice, and no longer need the forms. Like a musician, you learn all sorts of "scales" and "theory", but eventually, you shed all of that and just "play".
The last concept, is being infinite. In all of your movements, you want to be infinite. You do this by again following advice from the Taichi Classics, "follow the curve to find the straight line". You do not move in straight lines, but in curves. Curves are rounded, curves are infinite. Moving in a straight line, you reach a point that you can no longer move, so you must stop and go in another direction. This is an interruption, and not infinite. Remember this as you do your forms, so that you do not interrupt your flow. This is why you do a "Long Form". You must learn to move all directions without limit, without interruption.
In the higher levels of practice, this applies to your energy. You want your Taichi Ball to be of infinite size. Your mind must go out to infinity as you meditate; you want no limits to your energy. Remember that calm, concentrated, and clear mind from the first set of concepts. This is essential to doing this level of meditation, and truly being able to expand your energy infinitely. Otherwise your practice is not going to achieve this level of attainment.
To review, we have covered three sets of concepts. We started with working on a calm, clear, concentrated mind (CCC), as our foundation. Then we moved on to round, soft, flow and full (RSFF), as our practice guidelines for our form practice, and this month, concluded with center, harmony and infinite (CHI) as our guiding principles for all aspects of our practice. This is by no means an exhaustive discussion of these topics, but hopefully a good start to get you moving on the right track towards a more dedicated and sincere type of practice.