I had a good practice this morning. Before I began, I stilled myself, and called up what I’ve written about this week in parallel with the study group’s evaluation of Jason Miller’s Strategic Sorcery course on the subtle bodies. Think about what I’ve written about this week: the subtle bodies, the internal energy centers, the three channels, projection of energy, and the pathways within and between the subtle bodies. That’s a lot to take in.
And yet, I tried to run today’s practice as if all those things mattered, all the time.
I couldn’t do it, of course. I don’t have the skill.
How could I possibly keep in mind my physical body, my mental body, my emotional body, my energy body, my internal energy centers, the pathways between them, the flow of energy within the three channels, and how and where I was projecting energy… all at the same time?
But there are glimmerings there, of a direction to take, of a set of skills to master, of an internal tradition within tai chi that’s capable of being explored and mined for technique and skill. But more than mined. Mining implies an extraction of resource, a pulling-out and a using-up. This isn’t tai chi’s way, though. Nor is it mine, really. This is what mastery means, I think: to have the skill to perform tai chi at this level of quality and practice, and to be able to act with these things in mind.
I’m no master.
Yet there is a real value in applying the lessons of the internal tradition, and the subtle bodies, isn’t to get better at technique in the physical world. That’s a side effect, not the main feature. The real value in applying the lessons of the internal tradition is learn to see what happens within you —and how that changes what happens around you. And mastery, too, also means striving toward these results, which is an ever-receding horizon, without expectation of perfection of result.