This morning I was able to perform the three elements of taiji forms I know, all from memory — Five Golden Coins, Taiji form, and now Eight Pieces of Silk. Was Eight Pieces entirely correct? No it was not. But “good enough”? Yes. I’m discovering, thanks to the design work at school, and the creative exercises I’m doing for Frater RO’s class (belated birthday shout-out to him!), that I’m OK with “good enough to start” and with “good enough to move on”. Practice is the thing that makes OK into great, and that means… shuffling the order.
OK, here I am, guy in my early forties (my colleague says I’m actually 105, but since each year working in a middle school reduces your actual age by 5 years, I’m really only 63), doing taiji every day. But if you do the same form, and the same order of moves every day, for years… you stiffen up just the same as if you did nothing. The reason is that the postures are the same, and you’re doing them the same way. Maybe a little better each day, but you’re not breaking up the tensions that those same moves put on your body, or in the same way.
So vary the order of your elements:
- Taiji, Five Gold Coins, Eight Pieces Silk
- Taij, Eight Pieces Silk, Five Gold Coins
- Five Gold Coins, Eight Pieces Silk, Taiji
- Five Gold Coins, Taiji, Eight pieces silk
- Eight pieces silk, taiji, Five Gold coins
- Eight pieces silk, Five gold coins, taiji…
and so on.
I did the one in italics, above, yesterday, and felt nothing. Today, I did the one in boldface above, and sweat hard from the results. The Hermeticist in me notes that there are six possibilities in the list above, but seven is a beautiful number in Hermetics, and it would behoove me to learn one more element for my taiji practice: The Way of Energy, or stillness, as represented in this book. I’ve got the book, I’ve studied it, and it’s damn-hard. Standing still while your body buzzes with energy like thousands of ants crawling all over you, yikes and wow. But doing it once a week would bring me to seven, and it feels right… Maybe for Sundays.