I did this morning’s tai chi exercises in the dark. Usually, at home there’s some street light or some early dawn light filtering under a curtain or something. But this house has really dark living room curtains, and I began before dawn. And I didn’t turn on any lights. There was a green wifi router light, and that was about it.
Curiously enough, darkness made it easier to slow down. It compelled it, actually. As my eyes adjusted to the dark, I was able to see the outline of a cabinet, and I realized, wow, if I go fast, I’m going to kick that. And it will hurt. that was a good reason to slow down.
Because I did an eightfold count on each posture a few days ago, I was able to slow down to a fourfold count on today’s working. This counts as progress. I can’t maintain an eightfold count yet, day after day. But I can ramp up my practice to the point where a fourfold count daily is possible, and where it eventually becomes easy.
There are discoveries in this realm, at that speed. For one, I’ve grown stronger in ways I hadn’t expected. For another, I’m going to get stronger at this speed. It’s not possible at this fourfold breath count on each posture, not to lock up certain muscles: when I do, I feel pops and clicks as the muscles tense, and do that micro-breaking thing which makes them build and get stronger,
For another, I’m much more aware of launching each attack and defense from a firm foot position, and using that stable grounding to move from my own center of gravity toward a theoretical opponent, or away. There’s more power in these motions, and there will be even more as I practice, because I’m practicing them consciously.
Third, and perhaps most importantly, my body is getting better at shaking out its kinks in the morning much more rapidly on its own. By the end of five golden coins, all the snapping and popping my body needed to do, was done. My flexibility is greatly improved from when I started this project a year ago. And I’m physically stronger and healthier, too. My immune system ate another cold for breakfast this week. I felt it coming on, felt my nose phlegm up… And then it dispersed. I like that.
Metaphorically, I’m in the dark, though. This inaugural year comes to an end in a little under two weeks. Do I need to go back to a teacher after that? Do I need to keep practicing daily? Do I have to keep writing about it? What’s the plan after the 365 are up? At the moment, all I can think of is that date. I don’t know what will happen after I’m done with the practice in terms of initially-planned time investment. Right now, the answer to the question is “slow down more.”