One of the many reasons we do Taichi is to build and extend our sensitivity and awareness to what is going on outside of ourselves. In our regular everyday lives, we can be very distracted both by what is going on around us, and by our own chaotic thoughts. Taichi training builds focus and mindfulness so that we can zero in our attention where we want it to go.
But more than that, Taichi helps us build awareness that extends outside of our bodies. We do that by connecting our mind to our Chi through feeling. Then we extend that feeling practice outside of ourselves through Taichi Ball training.
This moving meditation practice – in both Taichi and Tao Gong – increases our sensitivity to very subtle changes. We pick up changes we might not normally detect with our untrained five senses, or when we operate through everyday movement and muscle power. It’s as if Taichi gives us new antennae!
“In order to detect and follow the flow of Chi, I have to do deep meditation like Tao Gong. Without that, if I just move normally I cannot feel the outside. I cannot feel if this object is hollow or solid, or if the air here is thicker or lighter.
The ability to do that is called awareness.
If I’m only using physical strength to move, I cannot feel the discrepancies between the different energies surrounding me. To me, it’s all the same. My strength is a disadvantage because I’m unaware of so much. I cannot be like a cat. A cat can feel with its skin, its fur, its whiskers. It can feel the vibrations in the air.
Or even like a cockroach: Why is it so hard to swat a cockroach? Because a cockroach has all those tiny hairs all over its body, so it can feel any micro-vibration in the air. Before you even start moving your hand, the cockroach already reacts. We had that as an embryo – we used our awareness to react, independent of our thinking. But the minute we started thinking, all of that declined.”
Master Waysun Liao
from the video “Tao Gong and Second Section Forms”