Tai Chi Y3D8: Slow, Slower, Tortoise

Read something online yesterday that suggested that tai chi has three speeds: slow, slower, and tortoise.  Wow.  Work is really required on speed. That’s a big area of concern in the practice. Accordingly, after the two qi gong forms, it was appropriate to try to do the tai chi form three times through: slow, slower, and slower-still. Tortoise speed?  No, not yet.  Progress, though, and practice.

The other health benefits of tai chi are pretty easy to determine.  Sunday and Monday were ‘low days’ in terms of energy. There was some internal lower-GI gunk going on, and it wasn’t good practice those days.  But the practice did happen, and nausea never erupted into vomiting, nor into actual sickness. Indeed, being out sick isn’t something that’s happened in… a year and a half? Some records-checking with the school is in order, but it’s been a long time since illness has troubled this house.

It may be impossible to overstate the benefits of multiple run-throughs of the same form on the same day, actually.  If slow, slower, and tortoise are the speeds at which tai chi should be practiced, it’s impossible to get to tortoise speed on only one run-through a day.  The internal clock is set somewhere else by other activities — sleeping, cooking, working, cleaning house, and more.  In order for the slow-down in tai chi to occur, it’s needful that the body has to be brought first to rest, then into a slower cycle, and then into a slower cycle still.  Today, the first run-through was at ‘normal’ pace, almost. But the second run-through was slow.  The third…. well.   There’s a ways to go yet.

The curious thing about three run-throughs, though, is how quickly mistakes emerge. The article at the start suggested that weight distribution is far more important when moving slow.  This was the case this morning: several times the movement was too quick, and awareness of how far forward or back the body was, registered as a mistake.  It’s a new level of awareness in practice that is going to be enjoyable to explore.

Back in Year One the big thing was the problem of procrastination.  Today, feet were on the floor before the alarm got turned off. Progress in overcoming the Dweller on the Threshold.  In Year Two, too much was going on, apparently. And suddenly the issue is not “how can I do all of this faster?” so much as “what is essential to the practice?”

Speed, or the lack of it, is essential to the practice. Therefore more repetitions, slowing down each time.

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