Friday 13 November 2015

No Time for Practice
More and more I hear that students struggle to find time to practise, especially in the early stages when it's all new. Maybe you came to learn Taiji or Qigong because you are feeling pressured and are looking for some a way to create a small pool of calmness within your day, but it's those pressures preventing you from practising.
I know sometimes when I look at my 'To Do' list my mind can say, “Well, if it all needs to be done, it all needs to be done now, before I can relax, or before I can give time to myself and my practice.” Of course, this is just a self-imposed deadline that has 'failure' and 'impossibe' written all over it creating even more pressure. But when I take a breath, relax into the present moment, and really look, I see that some of it can actually wait until next week, or even longer. Then I can see the most urgent thing and begin with that.
So it is with the practice itself, it doesn't all have to be done now. Of course, if you're learning a new sequence there is a need to do some practise for it to become embodied, and to be able to use it to develop and deepen the particular qualities it offers.
The majority of sequences we teach in this school take less than ten minutes to play through, and there are occassions when there really is no time, but it's rare that you cannot give a few minutes to yourself.
When time is pressured, just stand in the Attention posture for 30 seconds, but I mean really stand in the Attention posture, not just stand there holding your tension waiting for the time to be over! Pay attention to your alignment and feel and release, just for 30 seconds (Soft Limit). Once you're standing there and begin to relax, you may realise you can, and want to, stay a little longer or even move into the next posture, but don't impose any "Have to", the very thing you're trying to be free of.

I feel it's much more important to focus on quality rather than quantity. The sequence, whatever that may be (Short Form, Sword Form, Qigong, Dao Yin, etc.), is less important than the qualities and principles which are the things that make a real difference to how you are in the world from day to day. The sequences are a means to give yourself space and time to fully immerse yourself in the principles and qualities through physical movement. With a little experience you can observe a difference between somebody just going through the motions and somebody really practicing their art.
Here are a few qualities to which I'm sure you can add others...
Relaxation    Feeling    Flow    Listening    Presence    Awareness

Intention    Continuity    Versatility    Flexibility    Aliveness

Precision    Grace    Passion    Power    Self-Control    Enjoyment
Feel into this for yourself... how can you practise the principles and qualities of Taiji or Qigong in your daily activities when there's no time to play the sequence itself? When you can answer this you are well on the way to living your art.

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