One of the hardest things for me in tai chi is timing. Allegedly, the short form that I know is supposed to take about “seven to eight minutes for basic health” and “twelve to fifteen minutes for ‘a little bit extra'”. I either undershoot the seven minute mark, or I overshoot the fifteen-minute mark. I rarely land in the sweet spot of 14 minutes or so. But as near as I can tell, that’s where great stuff happens: my breath cycle works, I sweat lightly, my brain oxygenates, and my abdominal muscles engage fully in standing up capable and strong. Underperforming doesn’t do anything, and overperforming leaves me restless the rest of the day.
So…. Fourteen minutes or thereabouts seems pretty sweet, right? That’s where I want to be, right?
So today I timed myself. I did the qi gong exercises beforehand, and then I started the tai chi form at 6:25 by the kitchen clock. My goal was to finish at about 6:39. Just so there’s no suspense, I finished at 6:37. A little short of my goal, but inside the right energetic window,
Where do I think I tend to speed up? Because if I can solve the speed problem in those areas, I’ll be able to make my tai chi form last the right amount of time, every time. One of them is the sequence that includes golden pheasant stands on left (and right) leg and then moves into a series of kicks and spins. There are at least thirteen moves in this sequence, and every one of them deserves a slowdown.
Fair Lady Works the Shuttles has troubles of its own, too. It’s four postures, each of which has to be steady and stable on its own. Yet each postures has a minimum of ‘business’ between each posture. The only way to slow down is to build up both muscle strength and balance. These are good things in themselves, but difficult to achieve all at once.
So, it has to start with the Golden Pheasants, I think. It looks like this is the sequence I have to practice more slowly, and develop some more skill at performing precisely. Everything else will come wi time and practice, but those thirteen moves have been challenging to me since I started a year and a half ago, and it’s where the fix is currently needed.
As a side note, have you ever noticed how, in this blog, I go from expressing contentment with the way things currently are in my practice, to deep insight, to discontent, to discovery of a thing that needs fixing, to fixing it, to contentment again? How useful.