I’ve had a lot of difficulty lately with holding my balance during the tai chi forms and during the qi gong forms. The qi gong forms in particular have been challenging. Today I did a lot of focused work on my feet, in order to maintain my stability. I lost my footing a few times and had to start over, but I managed ok.
And when I say, “I lost my balance”, I want to make clear that I’m not falling over myself, or stumbling, or having serious inner-ear challenges to my balance. No, I mean, I’m doing a squat during the maneuver called ‘Milk to Heaven’ and the 70% or so of my weight that is in my torso and arms and head is actually sinking down out of line with my knees — but my knees are no farther forward than a line drawn vertically from my toes. That’s when I lose my balance, not while I’m standing naturally with two feet on the floor and most of my weight in line with my center of gravity.
In other words, I’m in this process of testing my musculature and body strength and balance capacities, and it’s challenging. I haven’t mastered what I need to master. William C. C. Chen taught my teacher about the “Three Nails” — three imaginary iron nails driving out of the sole of your foot into the floor or into the ground, from the heel, from the ball of the foot, and from the big toe. As long as these three spots are in contact with the ground, my teacher taught me after attending a few Chen workshops, your feet won’t go anywhere.
And so I have found.
But achieving that is quite difficult. So I practice. And if Quin is reading, this is one of the things that makes it easier to continue after 580 days. At first, just completing the work every day is a challenge. And then you discover things which aren’t quite right, so you fix them. And then you discover things which could be done better, even though they’re basically ‘right’ as you were taught them. And then, I suspect, you gradually find your own way of doing things.