Focused Relaxation Tai Chi is a wisdom tradition that teaches how to move in a relaxed but focused state of awareness. We teach that relaxation is the natural state of your being and offer tools for maintaining, or even regaining it. Just think about how you are when you are secure, without fear, and without need. An educated guess is that its awesome to be around you! It may sound funny, but Tai Chi is a martial art best learned and practiced in this state of being and we help you achieve it. Playing of Pairs The play of opposites is at the heart of any attuned Tai Chi practice.
We are active, we are still. We are firm, we are soft. We are empty, we are full. We are _____, we are not______. We remain cognizant of each pairs polarity, as well as the transition between them.
Pulsing of Pairs We breath in, we breath out. We shift forward, we shift back. We wind up, we wind down. We do all of this slowly, attuning more and more to a relative smoothness, a sort of oscillating resonance expressed by flexibility and an increasingly graceful control of movements. By paying attention to pulse, we can give an "off" the same attention as our "on", something busy people rarely get the time to do.
Playing with Multiple Pairs Above, we mentioned the pairs of (empty vs. full) and (active vs. still). Let's try an exercise that plays with elements of two pairs.
First, stand on two feet shoulder width apart. Shift your weight from evenly weighted to mostly weighted to the right. Now, move back to even. Then, shift weight mostly to the left. After playing with the shift, go ahead and bring your feet closer together, let's say there should be six inches separating the feet. Now, shift your weight mostly to the right. Then pick up your left foot like you are going to step forward onto ice that you aren't sure will hold your weight. Pause.
The raised left foot is (empty & active) the right foot is now (full & still) and you are in complete control of testing thin ice. So, go ahead and test it. Place the ball of your left foot down with the ability to draw it back if the ice is too thin. Now practice putting it down with a slowly building confidence the ice will hold. You just completed the first movement in a Tai Chi stepping pattern and learned a potential real life application.
Awareness in Tai Chi In Tai Chi practice, we build an awareness of yourself and our art form one step and one task at a time. At North Country Tai Chi, you will receive instruction both in how to move and where to place your attention when you are moving. Over time, the same attention and focus starts to yield exponential awareness. Alan Watts, a commentator on Eastern Philosophy, summarized how such a meditation sequence evolves over time.
"There is a lifting of the foot. There is a perception of the lifting of the foot. There is a tendency toward the perception of the lifting of the foot. There is a consciousness of the tendency toward the perception of the lifting of the foot." - Alan Watts
The quickest way to move forward (properly) is to take your time in doing so.