When practicing Tai Chi & Qigong we end up dealing with some pretty subtle stuff. Concepts that we can’t touch or feel like qi or intent and fine skills like quality of breath and “sticking” are easy to go off track with. Once we go off the rails, we can spend years wandering on dead-end trails.
To avoid this pitfall I’m going to give you the same advice one of the great tai chi masters gave his students. The story goes that for the first couple of years training with the master you would only get one piece of advice. No matter what question a student posed the answer was the same, “Relax, sink.”
“Master, how to I defend myself against attack?” “Relax, sink.”
“How do I free myself from worldly stress?” “Relax, sink.”
“Sifu, How do I free my body from stagnant energy?” “Relax, sink”
The Tai Chi & Qigong master would only give this advice because until you have a strong root, physically & mentally, there is no point in trying anything else. It is the foundation on which everything will be built.
So, whether you are new to these arts or an old hand, relax & sink is probably the first answer to any question that may arise in your practice.
Relax with Tai Chi & Qigong Advanced Practices:
For many of us feeling the energy is one of the ways we are testing Tai Chi and Qigong. Whether consciously or not, we want to feel something significant so we can prove this stuff is real. First off let me deflate your bubble a little bit. This “stuff” has been profoundly effective for untold thousand of people through centuries. It has nothing to prove to you. This is a fact.
Now before you hop off this page offended, you have every right to want some personal validation. My advice on how to feel the energy is the same as above. Qi is subtle and can mean different things. And honestly you don’t need to feel it for Tai Chi & Qigong to work. The sensation, or worse yet, the fantasy of moving energy is one of the biggest dead-ends that people get stuck in. When I did REALLY feel it myself for the first time I asked my Sifu about it. The advice was pretty much, “Ok. Feel it. Play with it some but don’t try to make it do anything.”
Think about it this way. The sensations of moving qi are like landmarks on your way. If you stop and obsess over every one you’ll never get where you are going.
So, my final advice on staying grounded with Tai Chi and Qigong is:
Enjoy what you are doing right now, take deep breaths, pay attention and keep it simple.