Today, I found a flow, and I got comfortable inside of it. The three forms I usually do — two qi gong forms and a tai chi form — altogether took about 45 minutes. Excellent. I think the tai chi form took rather longer than 15 minutes; the first qi gong form took the shortest period of time, I think, because it was somewhere n the middle of the second form that I found the flow.
What was the flow? Well, it was this state in which I could count four, and count six, and count 16, all at the same time. The four was the breathwork — in and out, in and out, that was four. The six was the flow of the movement I was performing: move outwards, two, three, four, five, six…. move inwards, two, three, four, five, six… and that was the amount of time each movement had to take. Ideally, I was trying to perform a six-count against a four count: breath in and out twice in the time that it takes to extend the arm to its next posture. And then finally, the sixteen count was how many of each posture in the qi gong form I had to perform. Thus I was keeping track of the the breathwork and the speed of the extension at the same time as I was keeping count of the number of times I’d done each posture.
There are three places of uncertainty for me, as to whether I counted correctly or not. More than this, though, I want to say that I didn’t intend to do this complicated counting rhythm this morning. I didn’t set out to do this difficult dance of number and movement. Rather, it found me. One moment I was just trying to “go slow”, and not rush too fast, and the next moment my brain was counting in two different sequences: this one for breath, and that one for body, and this other one over here for calculating accumulated total. It got very big, very fast, and very structured — and it worked.
I’m not sure I could keep it up while working, but for now, it functioned.
I also have to say that it made my physical form-work terrible. I was moving really slowly, though, but I wasn’t moving with any force, nor sweating from exertion, nor moving in any sort of disciplined force. My ‘punches’ would have landed without force, and my blocks would have failed to block anything. But maybe this is what I was aiming for?
It feels like this is important, like there’s a bit of a breakthrough here. My allergies are gradually ramping down, my sense of health is returning, and look — suddenly I’m able to move without force, at the correct speed. But I’ve been wrong about breakthroughs before. Sometimes this kind of beautiful day turns out to be little more than a glimmering from beyond the veil, a sign of things to come, but not the thing itself actually arriving.
And I guess that’s what the counting is about. It’s proof that I’m on the right track about slowing down, and how — in that my body has found a way to alert me to the nature of the challenge of tracking and training my body to keep track of three variables at once in my tai chi practice , namely breathing independently of body-movement-speed, and counting repetitions — but in a sense none of this will be working as it should until the variable-operation occurs behind the scenes. When I can move as slowly as the counting suggests, or slower, without being aware of the count…. that’s a significant step forward.