At the International Tai Chi Symposium, all Grandmasters(GM) mentioned using the mind to focus and relax the body, natural breathing, and the continuous movement of energy.
GM Chen Zhenglei said the whole body is like a circle with no straight lines. GM Yang Jun said we need to keep our energy in continuous motion, without stopping. Generally, we may be too limp (yin) or too tense (yang). He had us do an exercise with a partner to test this out. It was very revealing. Although I thought I was relaxed, I really was holding tension, in my shoulders, arms and legs.
GM Ma Hailong said our tai chi needs to be circular and alive. We use ‘focus’ to internalize the mind and body and get rid of stiffness.
Each GM’s movements so clearly demonstrated what they were talking about. They were relaxed, focused, emanating powerful energy within. Is that something we strive for with our tai chi practice? On the surface it seems so, but I don’t think that’s it. I recall a tai chi and QiGong Master with whom I studied at the Taoist Sanctuary in San Diego for several winters. He said something that continues to have a profound effect on my understanding — Tai chi is not about striving or trying harder. It’s about ‘letting go’.
Although the GMs didn’t use those words, what they said and did emphasized this principle. They stressed tai chi is about learning and understanding energy, not about the specific movements. They were focused, but let go of tension, thoughts and individual movements. It seems at times as though they were floating through the air, almost effortlessly.
So, I’m going to continue to focus on letting go, on emptying out my thoughts, on relaxing my body and mind. It’s a challenge and a good one. Tai Chi has already transformed my life, has given me a path and tools to walk again, to feel good. I’m a believer.