Monday, 16 November 2015

Repetition
Any physical movement will improve over time with repetition. Remember learning to tie your shoes laces? All it took was repetition, but very few people (if any) use shoe lace tying as a practice for understanding themselves at a deeper level, because it's done unconsciously and probably learnt when you were very young. Even so, you are now likely to be an expert at shoe lace tying!

To learn a Taiji Form of any kind (empty hand, duo, or weapon), requires a commitment to regularly practise the same movements repeatedly. This needs a certain amount of intention and discipline. As a beginner, having another new posture to add to the sequence each week keeps the learning process fresh: it's not the same as it was last week; the new posture may shed some light on what has gone before revealing a principle you hadn't quite understood up to that point. As each week goes by your practice will take a little longer giving more time to drop into the receptive space of the Form. As well as repeating what's gone before, this pattern of adding something new each week is a repetition in itself.

But what happens once the sequence is completed... Any physical movement will improve over time with repetition. Remember learning to tie your shoes laces? All it took was repetition, but very few people (if any) use shoe lace tying as a practice for understanding themselves at a deeper level, because it's done unconsciously and probably learnt when you were very young. Even so, you are now likely to be an expert at shoe lace tying!
To learn a Taiji Form of any kind (empty hand, duo, or weapon), requires a commitment to regularly practise the same movements repeatedly. This needs a certain amount of intention and discipline. As a beginner, having another new posture to add to the sequence each week keeps the learning process fresh: it's not the same as it was last week; the new posture may shed some light on what has gone before revealing a principle you hadn't quite understood up to that point. As each week goes by your practice will take a little longer giving more time to drop into the receptive space of the Form. As well as repeating what's gone before, this pattern of adding something new each week is a repetition in itself.

But what happens once the sequence is completed... there's no new posture to keep it fresh. While it's 'new', the enjoyment of playing a Taiji Form, or Qigong Set, for its own sake may last a few months, or even a few years, but going through the same sequence of movements every day would soon become boring and tedious unless a deeper meaning or purpose can be found, beyond just physical movement.

A common experience amongst many Taiji players is that we had to be willing to repeat the Form over and over again, day in, day out, simply to get beyond the place where we wanted to 'get it'; to be in control of it on our terms; to grasp the art and make it ours, without having to make any fundamental changes in ourselves. In other words, as beginners, most people want to shape Taiji to fit them, but through repetition and a willingness to consciously soften what is in the way, we are gradually, subtly, reshaped to fit ourselves into 'it', then Taiji begins to reveal itself. Feeling is the only sure way forward. Yes, you have to begin with copying your teacher and other students, and think about what you're doing, but until you can feel what your body is doing progress will be limited.

Discovering a deeper meaning refines repetition into developing higher levels of skill.
Feeling for the underlying principles, the inner aspects, through the same outer sequence, refines the connections within the body, and between the body and mind, enhancing the quality of the practice and the resulting effects that show in the understanding of yourself. 
 
What about repeating mistakes?
Again, Feeling is key. As you take a step, you can think about stepping Shoulder Width as much as you like, but it won't it happen with any clarity or consistency until you can feel that you're actually taking a Shoulder Width Step. Applying this sensory perception to each part of the body and each aspect of a movement allows self-correcting to become a natural part of the practice. Then, more repetition leads to more refinement which leads to more skill. 
 
Once you reach this place in your practice you'll become more calm, more 'still' in the face of conflict, thereby more able to act quickly when needed. Less often caught by the 'fight or flight' response in any given situation, you have the ability to appropriately either use action or stillness as both qualities are present within your Taiji Form, and therefore available in daily life. 
 
In life there appears to be certain lessons that each of us is meant to learn in order to grow into the full potential of our personality, to take us closer to living our wholeness. There may be very different lessons for each person, but I have noticed they tend to start small and very quietly. If we deal with them there and then, we have learnt the lesson, redressed that particular weakness, realigned that imbalance. If we ignore or side step them, they come around again in a different guise but slightly larger and a little louder. They keep coming around and growing until we can no longer ignore them but have to stand up and deal with them. This is another form of repetition and it can be very uncomfortable, but only because we've let it get out of proportion.

Through the conscious practice of repetition the mind recognises patterns of sensation and becomes more sensitive to the subtle changes and differences we experience each time we play a Form. Through training the mind, awareness and intention in this way, it is inevitable that we become more conscious of repetitive patterns of unhelpful behaviour in ourselves, and from here are more able to act upon them for our betterment as we move slowly but surely along the path of Taiji.

No comments:

Post a comment