Taiji Day 218: Slow Down

Today I set a timer to go off after twelve minutes at the start of the form, and I set a stopwatch to keep a running clock.  Working very carefully and with attention to breath, to movement, and to balance, I was able to extend the form from yesterday’s nine minutes to today’s 18 minutes.  Wow.

What a pain in the neck.  About halfway through the form, the alarm went off, and I had to stop doing the form to stop the timer’s insane beeping.  Then I had to return to posture, think about where I was standing, and where I was in the form, and keep going.  It was impossible to maintain the same concentration, and the last dozen moves didn’t get nearly the same attention as the first dozen or so.

But.

I now have a sense of how fast I should be going to get that “something extra” which is mentioned as one of the goals of the form.  Or more specifically, how slowly.

And there IS in fact “something extra” that comes with that slowness. A number of things, in fact.  First, I became aware of several places where my posture was weak — butt too far out, foot not planted properly to sustain balance, weight shifted improperly forward or back or side-to-side.  Staying in one posture long enough gave me the opportunity to correct it.  Second, the chi really starts flowing. There’s a power that comes from moving that slowly, because one must keep breathing to have enough oxygen to remain standing. And as that oxygen circulates… wow.

Consciousness change.  The world got really slow for a while there.  I live on a corner, and I couldn’t tell if the car was taking a really, really long time with the turn, or if they were just a really slow, uncertain driver.  But I heard one car make the turn onto my street outside my office, and the Doppler effect seemed to take dozens of seconds to get its act together.

THIRD, as if the two previously mentioned advantages were not enough, horse stance came back. It’s hard to remember to do horse stance all the time in the form.  But my legs have been getting stronger on a day-to-day basis, and gradually I’ve gotten to the point where I can do horse stance, even at today’s nearly-glacial pace, for the whole form.  No, I don’t want to stand in horse stance alone for fifteen minutes, or eighteen.  I’m not that good.  But it was amazing to discover that the plateau trains the body as much as the steep inclines on the way up the mountain.

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