I’m feeling pleasantly awake this morning after tai chi. I slowed way down: it took me forty-four minutes to do what I usually finish in under twenty. Adding a meditation segment before my movement is really helping.
What I do during that meditation is sit and breathe, and count my breath. 1… 2… 3… 4… 5… 6… 7… 8… 9… 10… And back to one again. I don’t do it very long, and this is different from my Druidic work. But it’s enough. And it really helps in achieving the genuine speed at which I’m supposed to be flowing through the tai chi and qi gong forms.
There’s this odd combination of being awake, though, and being fatigued from the movement of the limbs. It’s like I’m learning tai chi all over again. Really, I am. There’s a substantive difference between tai chi as practiced when you’re learning it, and when you’re trying to slow down your movements. There’s two goals in tension with one another: perform the correct motion without pausing; and perform the correct motion as slowly as possible. Muscle doesn’t respond instantaneously to those commands, because they’re not used to having to obey that level of economy of movement. We’re not used to giving our own bodies those sorts of commands, either: on one hand we rush, and on the other we are jerky or jangled — and the result is confused movement and multitudes of wasted force applied in the wrong ways.
It’s as though I spent the first year and a half learning the movements in the correct order, and now I’m learning them again, at the correct speed. Which is really like learning the form all over again.