This morning, I was hanging out with friends from the moment I got up. Given that yesterday started out with serious gastrointestinal upset, I took it pretty easy today — but by dinner time, I was ready to go. And so, I worked my way through the two qi gong forms with careful attention to horse stance, and the tai chi form, before doing anything else this evening.
The first time through the tai chi form, though, I felt like I rushed. So I went to have some water, and do some meditation, and then I returned to my office and did a second run-through of the form. Sometimes this is best — it’s good to be in the right frame of mind for the work, because if you can slow down enough to do the work correctly, that’s where the benefits come from. Not from rushing, but from deliberate action. And the quality of the experience is greatly improved by taking the right amount of care and attention.
So my second run-through was much preferred. The first one “counts”, of course, so one could stay that I’ve done “extra” tai chi today. But at the same time, the second experience was qualitatively better. How do I define qualitatively “better” when we’re talking about an activity with no particular ‘right’ way, or ‘end product’, though?
First of all, the sense of internal ‘energy’ rising within me was present during the second run-through, and totally absent from the first. I attribute this to the fact that my body is used to doing only three forms during the course of a workout, and this was four. So, in a very real sense, this was me pushing myself beyond my usual boundaries. The effects — like rising internal energy — were thus more easily manifested. And this brings me back to the idea that I had reached a plateau. The way forward is either to do more tai chi on a daily basis, or to do the same amount I do now, but more slowly and more intensively — that is to say, with ‘hard’ forms instead of ‘soft’ forms, with an emphasis on not-rushing, and with focused movement at each posture and each transition between postures. This is not always easy to achieve consistently, but it’s clearly the ‘next step’ in my process.