Today I had trouble slowing down. For a variety of reasons, the living room is crowded, and there’s limited working space for the forms I intended to do. there’s this irony, of course: it’s easy to go slow on the qi gong forms in a small space, because that’s what they’re intended to do. They work out the body even within the limitations of space — you need enough floor room to stand in horse stance, and maybe a little more for therm swings, and that’s it.
The tai chi form needs more floor space. And that’s just the way it is: without room to step and move, it’s impossible to do the work in the right way. There has to be room to step around and move. And if there isn’t, the form is compromised in some way — you have to take extra steps, or you have to remain in a position for three or four breaths instead of ten or twelve. For example, during one part of the form this morning, I had to take four or five steps to arrive at a place where I could turn back, and be facing in a direction and into an open area of floor where I could do the four postures of Parting the Swallow’s Tail: roll back, press, push, single whip. But then I was facing the wrong direction, and directing energy in the wrong place, to move on to the next posture. One does not wish to kick a steel framed book case, for example, with bare toes. So another positional adjustment was in order. Now I was facing a new direction, and I could do the next few movements… But then I was in the wrong place for the next movement… And so on… And so on… One wonders if it really counts at all as tai chi if one does all the motions of a tai chi form, but doesn’t do the flow from one posture to the next?
In the short term, it probably counts. But it can’t count over the long term. otherwise, one gradually begins doing a completely different thing besides tai chi. The flow is one of the things being practiced, after all. When it’s absent from the practice, one isn’t practicing. At the same time, it really took 300+ days to evolve my practice to the point where I understood this.