When we talk of Tai Chi as a mind/body/spirit exercise, it’s to describe how we use all of our capacities when practicing. With our mind focused, our emotions settle, our body’s movements smooth out, our spirit can then present itself.
It’s an intricate process, beginning on the surface of things. We start with how to move our bodies into specific postures, then we take this a step deeper. We learn how to move with balance, and muscle control. We move as one whole body. Not just arms, legs and a torso doing things separately. It’s one body, with one motion.
Even though we don’t focus on our thoughts in the beginning, our mind is required all along. If we are off somewhere else in our heads, then we can not learn and retain the basic physical form. This again starts on a gross scale. Our hands are in one place, our feet in another, with our torso stacked, and aligned. Our mind works on remembering all this information, and incorporating it into what we are doing.
The mind directs all this at first. However, when we can practice Tai Chi well. We could find ourselves thinking of our “grocery list”, or something other than the Tai Chi. Then, it’s time to take another step deeper. We learn to focus our minds on our breath. Our goal is a quiet mind, and a relaxed fluid body, which is in constant motion.
When the mind focuses, our emotions settle. This creates the internal quiet. The external movement of the body balances with this internal quiet. The body stays in motion, while the mind is steady and silent, like the smooth, still surface of calm water.
Here is where we find the spirit, or the intent behind why we do this. Potentially our intent could just be simple calmness in our lives, the balance it provides physically, or emotionally. We may not even know what it was that started us down this road, and it could be that we just feel good doing it. If we’re interested in our intent we will find it. It’s always there. When we become mindful enough of what, and how we are training, we find it.
All Tai Chi practitioners have some intent behind training. We all focus our minds, and find that when we do this we relax. Our bodies then move freer, and move more as a whole. This whole process, mind, body and spirit, was always present form day one. Even when we’re learning how to “Hold the Ball”. Especially when we’re learning how to “Hold the Ball” on day one. For those who’ve taken Tai Chi, what first inspired you to try it? For those who have not tried yet, what is preventing you from trying?
Shifu Daniel Cimino