One Way of Practicing Form
Michael R. Pekor

The quality of one's Tai Chi form practice is dependent upon many factors. One important ability to cultivate, for instance, is that of letting your attention drift softly down to the level of the "felt sense" of the body. Through performing the movements gentlly with a relaxed attention focused on the bodily felt sense of stretching and expanding, the conscious analytical faculty of the mind is abandoned and the intuitive "natural mind" given space. (At the moment that the "analytical mind" begins to speak, the natural intuitive modality of the mind is compromised.)

"Hey…I'm really feeling it now…This is good practice…This is the way it should feel…" These bits of internal dialog are the weeds in the garden of practice. To attempt to rid one's practice of these ongoing voices is a difficult task. By giving these voices any attention at all, including "Uh…don't think about that…or that…or…" you are feeding them energy and maintaining their root in your mind. A wiser way to deal with this situation is to move around comfortably, stretching and extending gently, with an attitude of relaxation and loosening and warming up. As the practice moves along, longer blocks of time will pass without the interruption of conscious monitoring of what's going on at the moment.

To attempt to "feel yourself feeling" the right way during practice is another way of missing the point. The point is to accept the experience as it occurs, without any desire to "hold on" to the positive moments. As you advance, you will develop the knack for ushering in this experience. You will not panic when a moment of quality in your practice fades away. You will develop an appreciation for these gems of practice and be content.

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