Today I did tai chi for the first time outside in a long time (I don’t know that it’s been this long since I’ve done tai chi outside, but it’s been a good long while). Outside is qualitatively different than inside. The two are radically different experiences. Inside, the work becomes all about one’s internal state and internal energy; outside, one becomes part of all that is.
One’s energy and capacities and skills are differently directed than the hemlock trees in the corner of the yard, but those trees still have energy in a way that the book cases and desk do not. This is a difficult thing to express to non-practitioners, but it is still true. It’s not true (for me) that living things (and ‘non-living’ things like the Sun) take on an aura or shine with a different energy or a more visible halo when I’m doing tai chi outside. It’s that the world beyond my household’s walls is more truly alive, and when I am “out in it” I experience that world differently.
Given this, it’s really a wonder that I don’t perform tai chi outside more often. Today, I did so only because all of the spaces where I currently work are filled up with stuff; there was no floor room in which to do the work inside, and so I went out. But “outside” can also be distracting. When you’re part of all that is, the puff of vapor that is one’s breath is visible in a way which it’s not indoors. And that can be a source of distraction.
Yesterday’s intention to step up my practice, and recognize that certain parts of the tai chi form need to slow down, was met in places. I can’t say that I did the whole form at a slower speed. I can say that I recognized the need to slow down in the moment of doing the work, and that I was able to do so on some sections of the form. Did I do all of it at the speed I wanted? No. Am I aimed in the right direction?