Inner Form vs. Outer Form
In the two groups, we're doing very different things. The group one just finished the form this week. So on Thursday after they finished it, we came in Friday, and it was a really interesting dividing line. Bruce made the big distinction between, on the one hand, on Thursday we finished the shape and the form, that's sort of the container. He said, "Now, everything that we're going to do has to do with internal content." So he made this distinction all the time. He talked about the bottle versus the wine you put inside it and we even have an article at Brookline Tai Chi that we put out from, I think, it's from 1989 Tai Chi Magazine. The title of the article is "The Inner Form is the Key to Health." And in the article, Bruce talks about all the different internal content things that should be going on that to be Tai Chi form.
And I find this working with beginners all the time is such a huge hurdle to get them over. Because people know Tai Chi by looks like in the outside, they see the shapes and the movements, and they see it flowing and graceful and relaxed, but it's really hard unless you're used to looking at it, to see what's going on inside. But Bruce always makes this big point, it actually what goes on inside that makes Tai Chi actually effective. It makes it not just choreography but it makes it work to improve your health, we're going to do meditation and martial arts. If you don't have the internal content, it's like driving a car without an engine. So it's interesting to hear him talk about for a group that's just finishing the container of the form. Now, to start to see what he started out with. And as far as internal content for them and how we're going to build that up. So that's a cool inflection point in the halfway point for the first group.
Finding Internal Stability
In the second group we've been holding postures. And so we've gone through now, I think, eight of the postures and the form, and building out from twenty, twenty-five, thirty minutes. And this is one of my favorite methods - the posture holding and you see up here, look at some other posing here, you see me messing around with 30 minutes in one posture or something else like that, I've always liked it in the standing practice. It was the thing that kind of, for me, made the difference of what's in the outside and "Hey, if you stand still and start to just feel into the body, there's this whole internal landscape you can start to explore." And that was the thing that always got me excited about Tai Chi.
So I'm very happy that we've been going through and holding posture by posture. What it is about it, is that if you get into each posture and the form, each of them because of the physical constraints, higher twisting, one way twisting, the other way, whether the posture's more extended, or whether the posture is more condensed, all of these things add up to determine in a specific posture how you manifest the energy of that posture. And so by holding it, you start to feel those internal gears kind of click and lock together in a way that you just if you're always just going through the form doing whatever, you totally missed that aspect. Sometimes you noticed really where you're tense, where things are stuck. But once you get each one of these things, it has kind of like a threshold where it clicks in. And I've always thought about it in terms of, "Okay, I'm going to hold this one for twenty, this one for thirty, this one longer, longer." But one of the key points that Bruce made was that once you hit a certain stability point for that posture, everything opens up and lights up. The pathways light up or this connection lights up that gives the posture a unique flavor. That's the key moment. And then you wanted to maintain that for as long as you can. And inevitably you lose it, you shrink out of it, you start to collapse a little bit, something gets off. And this is game of like, "Okay, how do I connect to it?" Reliably create that effective posture and then stabilize it. And once you can stabilize it for a long time, then you move into this thing where the quality, the posture becomes integrated into your form and to how you move.
So to me, I don't know, it's a fascinating process. Other people joke that the fastest way clear Tai Chi class and get everybody to flee out of the room is to just make them close their eyes and hold the posture. So it's definitely a matter of personal preference. But I mean it's really cool, that's what we've been focusing on all week.