This morning, I started with Five Golden Coins. I worked through the form three times: Once paying attention to footwork, once to inverse-breathing, and once with attention to moving through water.

Those four things turned out to be about 28 minutes, which suggests 5 minutes for qi gong, and then a seven-to-eight minute form.  Not great. But hey, not impossibly bad, either.  And reasonable under the circumstances.

The circumstances being that I’m not actually strong or skilled enough to do all three at the same time. There’s a lot of physical strength involved in moving through water.  It slows you down, and it requires more breath.  I haven’t learned how to take a deep-enough breath while inverse-breathing to move through water constantly at the same time.  Once I add in the footwork, it’s all too easy to let go of both of the other principles without thinking.

The cure to not-thinking about one’s tai chi, of course, is to slow down: to get one’s practice of the form so that it takes seventeen to thirty minutes, and not seven-to-eight.  I’m reminded, again, as I’ve been in the past, about the violinist Vladimir Horowitz, who said, “When I miss a day of practice, I notice. When I miss two days of practice, the orchestra notices. When I miss three days of practice, the audience notices.”  Yesterday I had practice, but I didn’t practice well. (seems to be a common theme for Day 357, really) Today I notice — and I call attention to it, readers, because you’re my conscience and witnesses.  I’m working toward this trifecta where moving through water, inverse-breath, and footwork are … not automatic, but occur more easily than they do now.  The only way to get there is for me to push myself, and so I do… but it’s nice to have both the encouragement when I do well.  And the skeptical side-eye, when I don’t.