Look deep into a park corner and you may see a senior citizen practicing Tai Chi Ch’uan. With its distinctive soft and slow movements you may be led to believe that this exercise is exclusively for the silver-haired race, practiced to keep them in good health. This is a common first impression. “The layman watches the fun; the expert looks at the way.”
To those who have practiced Tai Chi Ch’uan, another axiom rings true “To practice quickly is easy, to practice slowly is difficult.” Slow Tai Chi Ch’uan becomes a profound experience. The practitioner is striving to let her body slowly follow a certain path, smoothly shifting her center of gravity, organizing and integrating all her limbs as they extend and withdraw to acquire the “Song(Loose) Jìng(Calm) ZìRán(Nature)” of the Art. It is not an easy thing.
The first difficulty to overcome is how to make the body completely loose and soft.
First, we have to overcome involuntary muscle stiffness and tension in our limbs and body while we maintain a stance. In addition, we have to put aside the powerful idea that to make a movement strong we need to use brute force. The nature of Tai Chi Ch’uan is to use the natural forces of body mechanics.
The second challenge is achieving mental relaxation.
Observing this era, you may think that efficiency has been elevated to the supreme attribute. Everyone is trying to increase the speed they do things. You should triumph over all your competitors. Wasted time is squander life. If you stop moving forward that only means you fall behind. Slow movements are an unforgiveable defect. Everyone is like a racing vehicles travelling on a no-speed-limit highway in a car configured with just an accelerator. Without a brake, the only struggling is to continue moving forward. Even with brakes, no one is willing to use it. Spend enough time driving this way and people forget how to break and decelerate.
Learning the spirit of “Song(Loose) Jìng(Calm)” can help people adjust their rhythm of life; to rediscover their braking capability. Then, when you drive into a curve, you can gauge the right moment to decelerate in accordance to the state of roads. Only then can you smoothly stay to the road you have chosen rather than exit in a panic.
People experiencing mental strain register brain wave vibration frequencies around 13-30Hz. This is the fastest wave form, commonly known as tense brain waves and Beta waves. People describe this consciousness as blindly chaotic. Their spirit is unable to concentrate. Their anxiety causes them to miss important clues pointing to a favorable outcome.
Simply taking several deep slow breaths and consciously trying to relax body and mind changes brain waves to a 8-13Hz vibration frequency. These stablest of brain waves are usually known as relaxed, alpha, or creative brain waves wave. This state of calm concentration allows a bridge to form between the conscious and the subconscious, igniting creative vision.
Just like an “old monk sitting in contemplation”, this focused train of thought is helpful in dismissing distracting thoughts and organizing chaotic information. It becomes easier to see slight changes then progress to understanding what came before and happened after. Seeing the patterns supports detecting the real cause of problem. Then a more correct decision can be made.
After many years of martial arts training I have realized that the highest level of martial arts training first emphasizes balance and relaxation. For a clear mind maintaining elasticity is the key. Through Tai Chi Ch’uan practice, achieving personal “Song(Loose)Jìng(Calm) ZìRán(Nature)” in both body and spirit can raise one’s thoughts to a level of pure brightness and agility.
Perhaps you are looking for something that will help you have less chaos and anxiety? Something that will help you control changes rather than react to unfavorable circumstances with unprepared skills, or only discovering new skills when under stress or upon the pain of death? Perhaps you are feeling you are energetically out of balance? It may be worth considering learning the loose body and calm mind or “Song(Loose)Jìng(Calm) ZìRán(Nature)” of Tai Chi Ch’uan.