It’s about 60 degrees. There’s dew, or last nights rain shower, on the grass. The sky is overcast, but not lowering or threatening rain immediately. It’s perfect outside tai chi weather. I mean, seriously, anything above 45 degrees can be serious outside tai chi weather, but today is better than most by a long shot. And so I did. Qi Gong first — the form Five Golden Coins comes first, followed by Eight Pieces of Silk. It occurs to me that I learned Five Golden Coins in 1997 or 1998, but I didn’t learn Eight Pieces of Silk for a decade after that. And this explains why it always feels like Five Golden Coins really ramps me up, and then Eight Pieces of Silk just shuts me down — there’s not the same kind of muscle memory in place for EPS as there is for FGC.
After that, it was on to the tai chi form. One of the serious challenges I have with the Qi Gong forms is that each consists of a defined set of postures, which are repeated either 8 or 16 times. My teacher emphasized the importance of counting the number of repetitions, and getting them right to help stimulate the internal energies correctly. He didn’t say how to stimulate the internal energies correctly, only that d0ing the work either 16 times or 8 times if you were rushed, was the right thing to do to stimulate the energies correctly. OK. So, 8 or 16 times. But needing to keep a count of the number of times to posture, while also tracking a breath-flow, is just not happening yet. I can’t keep the two flows of numbers flat in my head yet, for either form.
The tai chi form isn’t like that, though. The names of the postures, rather than their numbers, flow easily out of my mind in the order in which they’re supposed to be done. But off and on over the last few days, particularly the last few days starting with an awesome practice here, and continuing through the next several days of practice, it’s been possible to flow through a breathwork exercise like the four-fold breath, simultaneously with the movements of the form. And so I’ve been doing that. The result, this morning, was an unusually slow and meaningful tai chi practice. It was possibly the best that I’ve ever had.
Yet the extraordinary thing is how ordinary it felt. I mean, from my perspective, I wasn’t doing anything particularly unusual. I was breathing. I was moving slowly, very slowly. Tortoise speed? No. But definitely “slower” rather than “slow”. And the ability to breathe at a pace completely divorced? – no – more like distinct from the movements — made an enormous difference.
Today didn’t feel like a ramp-up in practice. It did feel like settling in to the powers that have been developing recently, though.