Tai chi - the secret it seems lies in the practice.
But practice what? When and how often. Statically consider following a plan for your particulars and apply that to your practice, or to anything requiring time and commitment.
My personal solution to the question of “practice what, how much, when etc.” has been STEP 1 create a regimen and STEP 2 let answers flow from that practiced regimen, intuitive and trusted by my unconscious mind.
Rather than make rigid plans of what I MUST Do, I’ll defer to a felt psycho-kinesthetic response and information provided to my mind/body by the discipline and experience culled from daily practice.
In effect a regimen - a daily series of meaningful specifically targeted exercises, done over a long or suspended period of time modified and determined by experiment and priority dictates a positive productive outcome most of the time.
Without an effective plan it’s akin to “shooting in the dark” a hit or miss affair, like trying to cut down an oak tress with a dull ax. It’s hard to do yet easily avoided by honing the blade. Prioritizing and planning is the sharpener in our toolbox.
Because I practice more than tai chi alone my time and efforts must be divided amongst the contending practices and time available.
If your practice is exclusively tai chi you can choose which specifics particular postures or drills to prioritize. If you include Kenpo, you may have to follow a multiple set of priorities i.e. compromises, as I do.
The key is in the prioritization. Because mine are Cheng style tai chi and Yang Chi Kung on the physical level and meditation on the spiritual mental level I need a fully sketched out plan that at the minimum satisfies my various endeavors.
Here’s a partial list of what my schedule looks like.
Under the tai chi heading I practice Cheng form as first priority, I might do the form beginning to end or just certain parts or sequences independently. I try to include visualizing/feeling chi flow or martial intent in my drill depending on my liking for the day or I might leausrely think of nothing at all and enjoy the ride.
Sometimes as a lesser priority I’ll do the four corners set or the original 13 posture set, a 9 palaces set etc.
I also emphasize the Yang Family Chi Kung on a semi-daily basis, with minors in standing post work, the big regulation and various other chi sets. On occasion I include tai chi ruler work as well. and try to keep up my sword and saber practice. During the week I’ll work concentrate on partner work with follow students.
In the morning I sit and meditate, listen to a positive message or hypnosis tapes, or the Silva Method meditations.
Evenings I concentrate more on Taoist Meditations, like the Purple North Star practice, mentioned in an earlier post to Gary’s blog. Or I might do the inner smile and Fusion Meditations I learned with Mantak Chia.
As you can see there’s a bunch of stuff to do, if I don’t keep all the balls in the air my meditations would undo me totally defeating the purpose of meditation.
So how much is too much and how to keep a balance. Well, planning and priority! (getting back to the main point) the “secret” for me is steady as you go and being flexible. Have a plan but be willing to change as “realities” will dictate “the best laid plans…”.
The breakdown is I’ll do some exercises on Monday, Wednesday and Friday and others on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday, some exercises are delegated as morning practices, others are best felt when done in the evening. This isn’t hard to figure out, planning takes a little common sense,
the secret is to stick with it. Laying it out at the start makes the practice so much the better.