It’s easy to get caught in a linear, progress-oriented way of thinking about your practice.
What’s new? What can I learn next? Am I improving…all the time.
You get so caught up in doing it right and refining every little detail that you can lose sight of the what’s really great about practice in the first place…the restoration, integration, and feeling of wholeness you can walk away with each time.
Return to a Familiar Practice
What if, instead of trying to always master something new, you went back to a practice you hadn’t done in a while?
What if that felt the same way it feels to see an old friend? Or visit a place you hadn’t been in a long time?
Here’s an old friend I guess I’d like you to meet (part of me was hoping this would be buried in YouTube’s archives, never to surface again. Oh well!).
A couple of years ago, I wanted to see what it looked like from the outside to hold a posture for an extended period of time. In this video, I’m holding the final posture of Tai Chi’s Single Whip for 25 minute…but it’s sped up so you can really see the changes.
It’s awful, right? You can see all the collapsing and poor breathing as I struggle through the duration.
Wait. Why did I want to share this?
Oh, right, because every time I’ve returned to this practice since that time, six months, a year, three years later, I can settle back into some of the practice grooves I established back then.
When you return to an energetic practice like Standing Qigong, try not to just replicate the outward shape.
Instead, look for:
- The feel of the posture (or movement) — heavy, light, twisting, etc
- The energetic pattern that defines the practice — sinking, rising, absorbing, projecting, etc
- The mind, the body, and the energetic pattern slotting into alignment, not immediately, but over a few minutes or several repetitions
This last piece, the alignment, is critical. Part of the challenge of remembering an old practice is that you remember what it felt like at the end.
Here, you’re settling in to it, so you have to keep the end in mind, but patiently wait for the pieces to slot together again.
In fact, this waiting, and the eventual alignment, returning to a familiar place, is what is truly restorative and energizing about this method of practice.
Return is the movement of the Tao.
Yielding is the way of the Tao.
All things are born of being.
Being is born of non-being.
– Tao Te Ching, Chapter 40