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Tai Chi Challenge #13 - Smooth as treacle

To see an accomplished Tai Chi practitioner practicing the form can be hypnotic. Even if we’re not sure what we’re looking at, we know we’re seeing something special. Mind and body are moving as one, the very air seems to coalesce around them. The joy of seeing real skill is that it can give us a direction that we might pursue in our own practice. A clue to where we might improve. The real challenge can be in correctly identifying the change we need to make. It’s all too easy to think, ‘I need to move more smoothly’, but picking the correct structural/intentional change that will yield the desired result?, that can be a needle in a haystack. This week we’ll be focusing on that smoothness of movement. We’re going to work on putting our intention across our entire body, smoothly, everywhere at the same time. I’m sure we’ve all had the opportunity to experience swimming, the water supports us and our body feels light, arms floating upwards with zero effort. At the same time, if we try to run while standing in a pool, we find that the harder we try, the more the water resists us. But if we move mindfully, all as one, the body cuts through. Challenge 13 Part 1: Practice the foundation form three times as if you’re standing neck deep in water. The body light. There’s no rushing now. To do so will result in resistance. Let the body flow, smoothly. Now we move on. Instead of water, imagine a fluid so thick that if you stood in it you couldn’t fall over, it would support your body weight fully. Something like treacle. Now you have to be fully present in every single movement you make. To raise and lower your hands you’ll need to push up then draw down. To step and shift the weight you’ll need to push your leg through first, root, then move the entire body through. Lack of intention at any part of the body will result in that part not moving. Part 2: Practice the foundation form as if you’re neck deep in treacle. Repeat three times. How does it feel? With luck you should be beginning to feel a new level of smoothness and integration. Keep practicing…

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