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When I first started training in the martial arts I remember watching the other students and teachers and endeavouring to copy their moves. I wished to draw that fluidity and beauty of movement I saw into my own Feng Shou Kung Fu and later when I took it up the art of Tai Chi.
This is of course is where we all start out. We see something we aspire to and set out to draw it to us. As we progress we often become irritated as we struggle to get to grips with this now fast becoming mysterious art. We are helped to learn the moves by an already hopefully accomplished practitioner of the arts. Someone who has trodden the path before us, and persevered until mastery of those moves was reached. Then grateful for the benefits gained they choose to give of themselves to share with it others.
When we embark on the study of Tai Chi, there is no way at the outset that we would understand that what we see before us is an illusion. We see the form performed before us and that is proof enough. We want what we see. We want Tai Chi to be ours. We don’t understand that Tai Chi can never become a possession, in the same way that a piece of land or a stretch of water can never be possessed by us. Sure we can buy a stretch of land with a river on it or buy a house by the sea. But that land moves and changes with the years, that water flows, that tide comes in and goes out again. We own an illusion. What we really own is the ability to enjoy that piece of land, that stretch of water, appreciate that view out to sea. We can study it, watch its changing moods and learn to flow with that movement of life as nature does. This is the real value in the practise of Tai Chi.
Tai Chi has many drills that require working with a partner. This often puts people off. Someone else invading their space is seen as an intruder and this makes us feel uncomfortable, and out pops our nature, we flee or fight.
Tai Chi is not called ‘The Supreme Ultimate’ for no better reason than, it sounded good. Tai Chi has the ability to create personal wellbeing for its practitioner. This happens on a physical, mental and energy level, simultaneously. It is also a first class self-defence system.
This balance of the outer activity with the inner feelings and sensations draws the whole person together. Increasing wellbeing, creating a happier person, better equipped to deal with life’s up and downs without undue strain.
Focusing only on outer things, clouds our minds to the benefits of inner contemplation. Learning to quiet the mind, not stop it, just to bring it under control. The mind is designed to think and this ability puts us at the top of the animal kingdom. We don’t want to stop thinking. We want to do more of it, but real thinking. Not the kind the mind is commonly allowed to be used for. i.e. looking at things that others have done and worrying about things that we have no control over.
Tai Chi can show you how to use your mind in a more positive way. To put you in control of your life. WOW! wouldn’t that be good.
Is it worth some effort, you better believe it. Animals have little choice and work mostly on instinct. We can use the mind to take charge of our actions. But as with most things it requires some training first, results come later.
Tai Chi can show you how to control your body, energy and mental capabilities to a level you have never experienced before. This develops in its wake tranquillity and a sense of happiness that is not experienced by most people, ever.
For most people the mind chatters away and blinds them to the real values and pleasures in life. Conned by the media into fearing this and that catastrophe may happen at any moment, encouraged to acquire more and more possessions, more and more modern machinery to enable us to accomplish more and more in a shorter time frame.
And yet have we gained more time to ourselves, more time to share with our loved ones?
I think most people would answer emphatically, NO!
So these outward possessions bring us little peace. I know only too well how the mind can run away with an idea and have you rushing around at great speed unaware that you are accomplishing little in the process.
Born under the Sign of Gemini my brain hits the ground running as I wake. I have learnt to use meditation and Tai Chi to balance my system. That is probably why I have kept up my practise for the last 38 years. I need it more than most. It is not something I have mastered and can now forget. I need to constantly and consistently practise. Like our muscles if we don’t use them they atrophy. To get the most benefit from mind and body, we all must exercise a little on a regular basis to get in good condition and stay that way.
Oh Yes! I still practise on a daily basis. There is no end to the practise of Tai Chi. Its greatest benefits come from within the PRACTISE. The outward physical movements will lead you to your inner self, the real you. Not the one people see, not the one they think you should be.
Why not make up your mind to use the enormous power available to you through your Tai Chi practise, draw this power into you, to expand your life in a positive way. Find the jewel and polish it until it becomes a thing of beauty admired by all who see it. But don’t do it for others, don’t do it to show off. Do it for the best of all reasons; do it for yourself.
But be warned the process deals some painful blows. As you strip away the layers, as you dig deep to seek the jewel within, you will meet obstacles, you will be tempted to quit. Take the easier road;
Jump back on the bandwagon, join the rat race again.
If you can persevere with your practise, and you can if you want, it only requires a decision to do so on your part. You will be rewarded with a life that is mostly full of good health, enthusiasm for your work, a real possession in these times of change in the world.
You see Tai Chi teaches you that toughness is not an external thing, it is internal. Born of years of dedicating oneself to the task, perseverance is a dirty word to most these days. We are encouraged to go for the quick solution. But houses that withstand the storms are build on good foundations. Good foundations take time to build.
Don’t fear the future; no doubt the world is unfolding as it should. Don’t look out and complain about what you see. Look inward and work on yourself. After all, the only person you can control without using force is yourself.
Tai Chi can help you bring yourself under control, and if you persist with your practise, keep you there and better it again and again. There is no limit; the only limit is one you impose on yourself.
Set yourself free with your practise of Tai Chi – The Supreme Ultimate.
The best exercise for the whole person there is – bar none
Quote from a legend in his own lifetime.
‘I know where I’m going and I know the truth and I don’t have to be what you want me to be. I’m free to be what I want’.
Muhammad Ali

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