Home Practice: One key to reaping benefits from tai chi

One key to reaping the greatest benefits from tai chi is to develop a home practice. I like the word practice more than “routine,” which you might hear in some exercise circles. Practice is something you do regularly, which may seem like a routine. But practice, for me anyway, offers opportunities for refinement. You don’t do the same thing every time you do your practice. You create opportunities to discover new things as you learn.

I recently suggested to release tension when moving and not to clench or tighten joints, tendons and ligaments, as well as muscle. This may sound like a rule to apply to all of your efforts, but it’s actually not possible to do all the time. It would be great if you could whenever you needed, for sure.

For the sake of your practice now, just remember to let tension go when you recognize you have it. Try to change that condition into some other state. For all intents and purposes, that probably will take all of your concentration.

Beyond this, you may eventually find the importance of having the control to do what you want when you want. This is a sign of being more aware of what’s going on in your mind and body. For example, more clarity comes from being able not only to relax when you want, but also tighten when you want.

It’s not that easy often, mainly because we’re not clear on what we’re doing. It’s too much guess work for us. Knowing what you want to do and having enough control of your body and mind to actually do it is one ability you’re searching for in practice.

One way to approach it is to try to move a part of your body in isolation from the rest. Once you can do that, then you can intend the rest of the body to follow. You should feel, sooner or later, the energy flowing through your whole being.

As an example of what I mean, I told you once to tighten the hamstrings. This is a way of guiding your focus to move something specific on purpose. I like the word condense energy, where your power coils up and quickly “springs” open when you’re ready.

I also bring out a similar subject when doing qigong and single-basic repetitions. The idea, in this case, is to extend the arms and legs to a point then quickly release and continue on. This is the idea with the poses in Eights Pieces of Brocade, such as bow and arrow.

Moving a muscle or combination of joint, bones, ligaments, and tendons, or fascia as well, begins with holding our attention on a point in the body and initiating a movement from it. Once that’s accomplished, you can hold your attention there while also placing it on a secondary activity, such as another point, or movement itself. The nature of movement refers to speed, quality, shape, size and so on. To reiterate—learn to do what you want to when you want to.

When I say try to relax and release tension, I’m referring to the result of doing something deeper within. This requires cultivating an awareness of the feeling of your intended movement. You need to feel the move, not just think it. Thinking is a small part of tai chi practice, if any at all. Words may help to describe, but they don’t adequately explain, nor can they elicit real understanding on their own. You must feel it.

How do you reach that coveted state of understanding? First, you must practice at your level of understanding and observe your actions. Beware of trying to understand before you practice, or you’ll risk falling into the trap of thinking you’re skilled when in truth you may not be. Understanding is discovered through practice.

We can practice and get feedback by sharing our experiences, and doing group and two-person training. These are great benefits to learning. But in the end, it’s you who comes into understanding through solo practice.

If you like this sort of info, please let me know by writing a comment. I want to provide you with useful knowledge that you can use and apply in your practice. It would be helpful to hear from you in this regard.