For the last couple of years, I’ve been teaching regular workshops in Farmington, Maine. When I went up again last week, I had a fascinating conversation with one of the students. She was telling me how the core group had been coming along and that other people have come in and out of practicing with them. She said, “you know, it’s not really for everyone.” Now, I don’t know if that jumps out at you as a significant statement, but as a Tai Chi teacher, it’s something I’ve been thinking about for years.
I get the question all the time, or at least it’s always implied, “When am I going to get it?” Or, “how do I know if I’m getting good at this?” Now, let’s unpack a little bit of what’s behind this question and then I want to share some different ways that I think you can answer this question on your own, without even asking your teacher. Practice Goals I’m on a training trip this weekend out in New Mexico with Robert Tangora.
If you’ve learned many different meditation, qigong, breathing, and movement practices over the years, you may be faced with the problem of trying to decide what to practice each day. In this episode of Qigong Radio, I’ll show you a framework for thinking about your different modes of practice and show you the single most important goal of an energy arts practice, regardless of the mode or specific techniques. Specifically, we’ll look at:
One thing that’s been on my mind since Bruce was here teaching a Push Hands Intensive is what it means to follow instructions in your training. He basically laid out a year or longer curriculum during a week. What do you come away with? What should you practice? How do you reconcile “downloading” a whole curriculum at once vs. really upacking it and learning to use it over the next year.
As Nate and I were discussing specific breathing challenges in qigong and Tai Chi, he started to explain the way he had learned to work with breathing and movement in his yoga training. It’s fascinating to compare strategies for working with the mind-body connection across different systems, and while this is by no means a definitive exploration of similarities and differences, I think you’ll see that there are two distinct approaches.
One of your practice goals should be to be able to make sense of other people’s movement patterns. Learning how to watch someone move, and see what’s going on, is going to give you really valuable information that you can then apply to your own practice. In the following video clip, I demonstrate two different gait patterns, with different arm swings. If you can start to see how the arm swing differs between the two, you’ll start to gain some valuable insight into how to assess and correct your own movement imbalances.
When you see a series of exercises, you can either look at what’s common to all of them, or how they are different. In this video, I go through several variations of turning exercises, where I’m using the connection between the legs and the spine to drive body movement. Most people will look at the arms in each exercise and say, “those are not the same movements” and that’s true, but they would be missing the most important part: how the legs turn the body.
Eyercize is a free, web-based reading pacer that turns any text into a speed reading exercise. But, you can do more than just read faster using Eyercize. You can actually improve how you move, if you follow these simple training guidelines. Part of the reason I’m so excited about Eyercize is how easy it is to use. Check out this video demo where I show you how to turn any web page into a eye training exercise: