The Tai Chi Stance, Part 2

You may at first, and definitely later, feel Chi moving from your fingertips and/or palms during the Standing Meditation. It is that flow which you are after while performing this or any Tai Chi move. Once you’ve familiarized yourself with the stance, add to it the placement of your tongue in the roof of your mouth. This practice allows the Chi to flow through what is called the ‘central meridian’ in your body. Because the mouth separates that meridian running from the top of the head to the Dan Tien, the tongue is needed to form a ‘bridge’ Chinese medicine uses ‘meridians’ in the body to rebalance it through acupuncture and other healing modalities allowing the Chi to flow freely through them.

Pay attention to your breathing. It is the next basic element to learn to use properly. Actually, most people don’t use all of their lung capacity and need to learn optimal ways to breathe apart from doing any kind of exercise. But that is not the subject here. There are books written about how to breathe. Here we’re concerned mainly with the timing rather then depth of the breath. Later, when you’ve learned some moves, practice breathing in when bringing the arms toward the body, and breathing out when moving the arms away. This is a general idea to keep in mind while practicing even though the breathing during any given set of movements may vary somewhat. Focusing on the breath while practicing seems to allow the moves to flow more fluidly.

Putting all of the foregoing together may take awhile, but the rewards of such practice are monumental. I suggest practicing one aspect at a time until it feels right, before going on to the next. It takes awhile for the body to become acclimated to something new, and even more so, perhaps for the mind. The Standing Meditation is one of three stalwarts for Tai Chi mastery and should be practiced daily. I’ve practiced it standing on one leg to improve my balance. Of course, it’s one thing to maintain proper body alignment standing in one place for a while, and another once you start moving through the form. But the feeling of it is paramount for maintaining that alignment during the form.

Most facilities where Tai Chi is taught have mirrors, but our homes may not. I suggest purchasing a full body-length mirror and placing it where practice is performed. Actually two or more are better, but they may be difficult to locate in the average room. While going through the form, or even Standing Meditation, watch that you maintain the proper alignment of your body. If mirrors are not practical, although I consider them essential for the novice, have someone watch your practice.

The ‘watcher’ could then comment while you are practicing so you can make adjustments. A video is helpful, but unless you could watch yourself while practicing, it is not as beneficial as ‘real-time’ adjustments.

During all of the practice mentioned above, remember always to relax.

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