The Wisdom of Tai Chi

Photo by Nicole Geri
Photo by Nicole Geri on Unsplash

The world stirs at the touch of dawn’s earliest light, filtering in sideways through morning mists, and the first breeze comes like a pleasant, waking sigh. So breath and movement awaken as dawn’s veil grows thin, and all life begins a new song.

Stepping out into the dawning world, you are received. Breathing it in, its life is now your own. Known so, carried inside and out, your limbs are freed as air and light move around you. Well rested or underslept, you are met; upset or calm, you will find it meets you on its own terms.

This is how nature teaches us to practice, and Tai Chi as an art emulates nature. And so each morning we can learn the five principles of Tai Chi from a master teacher: adherence, spontaneity, softness, yielding, and rejection of brute force.

Adherence in Tai Chi means receiving your opponent, maintaining continuous and sensitive contact until you discern them. It applies in all human interactions: physical, emotional, and verbal. Adherence is listening through contact.

Seek straightness in what seems curved…
Be watchful…seek the hidden intent.
Essentials of Joint Hands

Spontaneity in Tai Chi means responding to your opponent before they fully express their intent, countering after they have initiated, but before the full cycle has been expressed. Spontaneity comes of listening with all your senses.

One part acts, all parts act;
one is still, all are still…
In stillness be rooted as a mountain,
in movement be fluid as a river.
Essentials of Joint Hands

Softness in Tai Chi means remaining relaxed in mind and body as the interaction takes form. If the mind is tense, the body will stiffen, and listening will cease. The practice of softness that listens is the cultivation of mysterious strength.

The mystery of the art is manifested in interaction.
Song of the Thirteen Postures

Yielding in Tai Chi means moving with an attack, not against it. By giving up intention you may express yourself in the movements of your opponent, but first know yourself! Yielding is self mastery that frees you from mastery by others.

Fall empty, use four ounces to deflect 1000 pounds…
Yielding to follow others, one must know oneself.
Essentials of Joint Hands

Rejecting Brute Force in Tai Chi means meeting your opponent on your terms regardless of their approach. It neither resists nor flees a powerful attack, but meets it, follows it, and defeats it after it is spent. This is the essence of Tai Chi.

In tranquility meet their movements,
in calmness operate your own.
Song of the Thirteen Postures

The ancient Chinese concept of Tai Chi is more than the martial art named after it. It is expressed everywhere there is form, in the harmony of all that is. It is how we may learn to dance with the world, and practice with the universe.

What about you? Are you ready to learn to embody the five principles? Are you willing to transform your interactions, and empower your relationships?


Sources:


Published by Caelan Rowan McCuen

Poet and writer of imaginative fiction; lover of ancient wisdom literature and mythology; one most passionate about the vibrant world, and all life, and all beauty...it is all I am.

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