With its distinctive grace and flowing movements, T’ai Chi Ch’uan is becoming an increasingly popular form of relaxation in the West, as it provides an effective antidote to our stressful and competitive society. Many people practise T’ai Chi solely for its benefits to health and as a means to relieve tension. However, with a little dedicated study we find that T’ai Chi is a complete training, starting with the mind which the body naturally follows. It is meditation in movement. The stillness achieved in movement is regarded as of a higher level than the stillness reached in stillness. This is a clear and practical bridge from meditation under special circumstances to meditation under every circumstance. T’ai Chi Ch’uan is also an effective martial art and in the hands of a qualified master it is without equal - its name translates as ‘Supreme Ultimate Boxing’. To achieve this level of understanding takes many years of dedicated study and practice, consequently, it is not suitable for a person whose sole concern is self-defence. Through the practice of T’ai Chi we learn not to rely on external strength and hardness in order to overcome opponents and obstacles, but rather we apply principles such as the yielding overcoming the unyielding, the soft overcoming the hard. As the body gradually learns to soften and yield, the mind follows suit by becoming more open and flexible.Thus, after much work, the habitual actions of mind and body - which at first seem natural - begin to fall away and one is eventually left in a natural state. In this natural state we learn to respond to each situation as it comes, unhindered by memories of the past and conceptions about the future. A clearer perception of the ‘Heart of the Matter’ develops.’
T’ai Chi Ch’uan
Since peace is the essence of true happiness we try to bring this about through the practice of the natural philosophy called T’ai Chi. By working from the mind, through natural movements of the body, we learn to understand relaxation, to interpret energy and to apply this knowledge to our everyday lives.
The benefits of increased relaxation contribute greatly to the attainment and maintenance of good mental, spiritual and physical health, a longer life and a happier day-to-day existence.A by-product of all this is an eventual martial ability, but this happens gradually - students with a pressing need to acquire martial techniques are advised to join a class that prioritises self-defence.’
T’ai Chi Ch’uan is a vehicle. Through the correct practice of T’ai Chi we gradually work towards the cultivation of expanded open awareness. Central to this type of awareness is the principle of ‘Forgetting self and becoming One with the Tao’. Forgetting self is not to be confused with simply drifting off into oblivion or distraction.
The more we forget self, the more our awareness tends towards expansion. The more we dwell on self, the more our awareness contracts. Expanded awareness is inclusive - contracted awareness is exclusive. To be exclusive is to be separate, to include is to join… from true joining comes Love.
When we forget self there is no subject, there is no object - the boundaries and defence mechanisms that prevent connectedness fall away - we melt into the Now. There is no self, there is nothing to defend. From this place of naturalness we can begin to learn.