Today’s movement was pretty easy and yummy. I had an easy time of it, although as always I’m concerned about whether I’m spending enough time on each movement. Today I begin a new panel in the tai chi ‘booklet’, which runs from Grab the Needle at the Sea Bottom up through False Close. Commenter Quin would find this sequence, from Opening through False Close, to be a pretty good sequence to try to learn in his thirty-day project. Assuming I can finish all the drawings and the revision of the sonnets to his satisfaction and usefulness.
Of course, that’s proving difficult. I thought I was a pretty good artist, but these drawings are difficult. Their very simplicity is deceptive — what’s the right amount of information to convey in these drawings? How does one know when they convey the right amount of information?
I don’t know the answers to these questions. Grab the Needle at the Sea Bottom is a squat, of sorts, with the left hand resting on the right wrist, and using that pressure to force the hand down. Most of the chi is in the left hand and arm, and most of the squat or sink-down is in the right leg:
Circle left hand clockwise until it rests
lightly on the wrist of the right hand; then
extend that force and diligently press
your weight through that channel. Be surprised when
your right knee buckles: but let it convey
your thumb and forefinger down to the floor.
Don’t make mistakes: first listen, then obey
how far your mass sinks; go that far, no more
nor drive your body farther than it goes.
Pick up the needle and then smoothly rise:
Allow each muscle to do what it knows,
and a little more. As dozens of tries
you collect, your muscles will learn this move —
and in time its perfection you will prove.
I said at the time that I wrote this poem that I wasn’t happy with it. I’m still not. But I also think one of the key elements to remember about this move is that there’s this push to have the thumb-and-forefinger of the right hand touch the floor and yet have the upper body remain straight. It’s taken me three years to get to that point without pushing the issue, though. Don’t force your body to achieve this; let it find its way naturally there. On the druidry list, we were talking about one of our rites, and a very senior member said something to the effect of, “Some would-be magicians and occultists, nearly always men, always try to force the energy to flow by tension or force, and it’s a bad idea. Not only doesn’t it work, but the actual skill takes much longer to develop. So it is with Grab the Needle, I think. Your weight sinking down in the squat will gradually work out the tension and resistance in your legs; and then you’ll find this move happens naturally. Go as low as you can without bending your waist or back; and expect that each day that you perform the action correctly, you’ll be able to go a little lower — or not. The goal is to achieve flow and flexibility, not forced descent.
Quin, I feel like there’s some piece of commentary or a sonnet I need to fix or revise, but with WordPress’s new interface, I can’t seem to find it. What do you need help on currently?