Heart = xīn 心
The meaning of “heart” is not just about the physical body part, but also about the emotions. News is changing like the wind right now, we have no idea what will happen in the next 30 minutes or 90 days. Uncertainty can bring up many negative emotions, but it is important at times like these to do what we can to calm the chaos. Keeping a regular schedule can help with that.
It is important that we keep our emotions calm and our minds clear to help make the right decisions. If the mind is clear but emotions are stressed, it is hard to make a good decision. Our breathing and our looseness will determine how we handle stress.
When breathing, focus on the exhale, on letting go. When we let go with our breathing, the body can be loose. Pay attention to not disturbing your center core from your băi huì 百会to your huì yīn 会阴 at the same time learn to let go.
In our practice, pay attention to the spirals in your body. They are more subtle in Yang-style than they are in Chen style, but they are there. The three-dimensional spiraling movement originates from your center core dān tián 丹田, not your extremities. Before each step, feel the corkscrew originating from your center core, spiraling down as your kuà 胯 loosens, your knees expand slightly and your legs are solid. You feel yourself sinking a little bit lower. This corkscrew creates a pressure that is then redirected to power your next step.
Connection = lián jié连 接
In Chinese, lián 连 means to connect or to join, but jié接 means to receive. In order to really connect, one has to be willing to receive, to listen. If there is no listening, there is no connection.
Everything we practice in Taiji is all connected to our lives. If we only practice Taiji as an exercise, it will only be a physical exercise, but if we apply what we learn in Taiji to our daily lives, it creates a deeper connection.
In this universe, everyone and everything is interconnected. We all affect the people around us – those we know and those we don’t know. The mind is the beginning of this connection. The mind moves the qi and the qi moves the body. If we think positive, we will see a positive outcome.
When the mind begins to understand, the body will change. With this pandemic, at first some people thought it only pertained to “other” people, but as they began to understand that it affects all of us, their actions changed.
Single Whip is one of the most repeated techniques in both Yang-style and Chen-style Taiji. Practicing this move gives us an opportunity to play with the connection created by tensing and loosening while spiraling. The spiral tension created in the arms and legs is taken to maximum tension when the frame is almost complete, then loosened just at the end. Similar to shooting an arrow, we pull and let go, but don’t hold for long. We build tension, it reaches its maximum as the frame is completed, then we let go.
As one part of the body changes, everything else has to adjust. Developing this sensitivity to the connection between body parts and their spiral motion will deepen our understanding of the form. If we don’t pay attention, the parts will be disjointed and un-connected. To do well, we have to open all the senses. This practice goes beyond Taiji, but also into the rest of our lives.