“Each time you practice while you are feeling gentle, happy, easy and relaxed, you take another step forward in cleaning up your energy. Your Chi becomes clean and your mind becomes pure.”
Restoring Your Life Energy: Simple Chi Gung Practices to Reduce Stress and Enhance Well-Being
Taichi isn’t just a muscular exercise for strength or flexibility. It is considered a moderate exercise, but tennis, jogging or swimming can do a better job to tone you up. Taichi’s main purpose is to strengthen your life energy. We strengthen our life energy through first learning how to feel our Chi, then learning how to flow our Chi during moving meditation.
In Taichi we work to relax, or what Lao Tzu calls being “weak.” Why? We must be “weak” so we can detect that very fine, subtle signal of life energy. Then we can follow it and flow. If we are “strong,” meaning moving with force from our own idea, we can never feel it. That’s why if your goal is to learn how to feel your Chi, it’s important to truly relax during your Taichi and Chi Gung practice.
One of the reasons you’ve lost your ability to feel your Chi is that you have spent most of your life moving with tension – the backbone of muscular strength. Your body’s physical strength and Chi compete against each other – they cancel each other out. As a result, your Chi is lagging behind. Relaxing allows your Chi the chance to ‘catch up’.
If you can stay relaxed in Taichi, over time, you will start to detect your Chi feeling. When you get that feeling, you can cause that feeling to move and then your hand follows. Likewise, you must cause your feeling to turn before your body turns. This is the goal of Tai Chi practice, moving via the Chi, rather than by muscular strength.
“Mental relaxation is much more important than physical relaxation, because mental tension will undoubtedly cause physical stiffness. Beginners should start with a calmed mind, progress to a totally relaxed body, and then meditate with the universe.” T’ai Chi Classics
When you are practicing at the physical level, you can practice for a long time, but you won’t achieve anything unless the mind is concentrated. Yet when you concentrate, it is very easy to create tension during practice. “I try so hard, I concentrate so hard, that my tension builds up.”
As soon as tension builds up, the Chi flow starts dwindling down again. That’s the trap that damages our Chi awareness in daily life – we are often under stress, or are concentrating very hard on our problems or our work day. When we under stress, or when we concentrate, we tend to tense up. In Taichi you must avoid that trap.
Relaxed also means effortless. It’s important that your effort be moderated, not desperate. Again, when you tense up, the first thing to suffer is that sensation — that feeling of your Chi. When you tense up, you cannot feel your Chi moving. That’s why if you are too desperate to feel your Chi, you may never succeed.
Trying too hard to do your form perfectly can also make you tense. If your hand is very strong and stiff, no matter how impressive it may look, you will not be able to feel that very weak and subtle signal of your Chi.
But since Taichi does require a certain amount of physical effort and mental dedication to improve, it becomes a paradox: what I say to my students is that they should try very hard but at the same time don’t ‘try’ — stay “in between.”
Mental relaxation is perhaps more difficult than physical relaxation, but it’s equally important. We cannot achieve that right away, so we take our time. Each time we play Taichi, let’s aim toward feeling gentle, happy, easy, and relaxed.
So how do you learn to practice in a more relaxed state, but still be able to concentrate enough to do your form well and feel your Chi? I recommend you alternate: Do a few rounds of Taichi forms while concentrating, then the next few rounds focus on relaxing. Do this back and forth until you can be both connected and relaxed at the same time.
One step at a time, with regular practice in the right frame of mind, your Chi becomes very clean and your mind becomes very pure. Then you can dedicate your pure mind toward your clean Chi. When you put these elements together — clean Chi and a pure mind — they become original power. When they become original power, that’s called Taichi.
Copyright 2019 Master Waysun Liao and www.taichitaocenter.com
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