Even though this title indicates it is a book written for tai chi practitioners in the early stages, I found the insights drawn by Paul Tim Richard are valuable for any teacher as well. We tend to ‘learn and teach’ as we were taught and it is valuable to open the mind to the many ways our body can teach our brain.
As Richard says, “Tai chi practice can lead to changes in the perception of one’s self… that change means to adapt in order to become more aware of an infinitely more encompassing power than the individual self.”
In his book, Richard describes many ways to focus the mind—to focus awareness—in order to achieve the many benefits offered by practicing tai chi. The structure of the movements is where everyone begins, but training your attention to other physical sensations, plus perceiving through motion itself opens the door to transforming breath into qi (energy) and mind into shen (intent).
He reminds us that “Sometimes clumps of insights can strike sensitive areas of the subconscious, dragging up the detritus of a life like an anchor heaves up mud from the ocean’s depths. We often react by defending the one thing we had set out to overcome when we took up learning. We indulge the very things that we don’t like about ourselves. The teacher’s job is to bring the student to a point of being able to cultivate their own unique potential.”
And, of course, cultivating that unique potential keeps us forever learning with gusto.
— Shifu Susan A. Matthews, MS, ND