My Tai Chi practice, and, in fact, also my yoga and meditation practices, have taught me about change. While it’s corny to say that the only constant is change, is it also the true nature of things. Even my most mundane routines keep on evolving. Yet, in my mind, change is still viewed as a challenge. “Oh no,” I may think, “by the time I finally got used to doing it this way, I now have to modify it yet again.” Nevertheless, I constantly adjust my diet, my workout routine, my writing style, and even my day-job, which entails developing online businesses. In fact, due to the ever-shifting nature of the internet, if I do not adapt and evolve with my online work, I will be out of business within the space of one year. Thus, change is not just unavoidable but critical. And the more I learn to surrender to its notion, the easier things become.
Back to my Tai Chi practice. I exercise the Short Yang Form (aka 24 Form, Standard Form.) There are several different schools in terms of how the form should be practiced, varying in approach (e.g. wide and stylistic vs. enclosed and martial-arts oriented.) I have been practicing this form since approximately 1990 or 1991. Over the years I have had several different teachers and with them my style had changed. Yet the greatest modifications happened out of insights from my own observations of my practice. Some of the alterations are external and quite visible. Yet even more so, are the internal changes; the ones I can feel in my attitude, opening of spaces within the body, direction of energy flow, relaxation of the hands and alike. An outside observer, unless a highly skilled Tai Chi player, may not notice these adjustments, but I do. It is completely and absolutely fascinating. I crave these changes as some, at least in my mind’s eye, elevate my form drastically.
Since I also teach Tai Chi, my students, over the years, have learned that the form may be modified occasionally here and there. Some embrace it, while others get discouraged and dropped out. In ancient China, so I was told, when a student gave up because their teacher had changed the form, the teacher would smile and take them off his mind. They are not yet ready to study the form, he might have said, and in fact might be suffering through their own lives due to over-rigidity. I, on the other hand, am sorry to see people drop out. But I also realize it is not my role to enlightened them. If and when they will be ready, they will come back to practice, either with me or with someone else.
As for myself, though struggling occasionally with changes, it is one of my life’s goals – to open up more, flex my mind, embrace. In Buddhism the concept of accepting the flux of life, is demonstrated by the tale of a person who cannot forget, forgive and let go. The rigid person carves into stone, the next scratches in the dirt of the earth, a person who starts learning to let go, writes on the water’s surface, watching the trail of his letters disappear shortly after being expressed. One who perfects the art of letting go, writes onto air, or, maybe not bothers writing at all. It is the art of letting go even before it enters the mind.
I may know the Short Yang Tai Chi form quite well, but I also know that I do not know it. And it is likely that I never will. As my practice buddy, Gerry, says, it is much like the Tao: if you think you know it, you don’t…
Learned from: practicing Tai Chi