Over the last several days, the form work has changed. It may have started while the DC trip was going on. It’s not clear when it began. However, of late certain stomach muscles have engaged at the deep knee bends and toe touches. These muscles, the ones around the navel, can now be felt through the layers of skin and fat above them. It’s a useful reminder that everyone has a six-pack of abs; it’s just hidden in most people. But they’re there. And those muscles can be worked. In fact, they are worked…. It’s just that getting them to work requires a bit of effort beforehand.
The activation of these muscles does several things which were all immanently obvious today. First, there was a change in breathing pattern:the inward breath came deep into the abdomen, as the muscles around the tan tien expanded; as those same muscles contracted, the exhalation emptied the chest. In other words, the breath became fuller and deeper, and more complete oxygen exchange occurred. Let this be clear: there was no effort to force these muscles to engage before they were ready. This is emergent behavior of the body, after months of practice.
Just as the physical body engaged, there was also mental and spiritual engagement. It’s possible that one does not happen without the other two in tai chi. The change in breath pattern raised a sense of a corona of fire or of gold around the head, and around the hands. Today was the first day this was experienced. The breath entering and leaving the body felt more charged and brought about more liveliness and life force, and it felt like it circulated more fully in the body.
Some of this has happened several days in a row. Some of it is new today. Writing it out it feels awkward. Nonetheless, a change has begun, and feels like it will continue.