Feeling your body is the most basic aspect of the Qi experience. It is the most immediate and appropriate starting point. The practice of feeling Qi is a kind of meditation which enables you to develop your mind. The goal in the process of developing your mind is ‘balanced’ mind … balance in Tai Chi is Yin/Yang. The Yang aspect of mind is ‘Yi’: the Intentional or wisdom mind. The Yin aspect of mind is ‘Xin’: the Heart-Mind or emotional mind. As we develop a more balanced mind we play with the harmonious co-existance of these two aspects and more specifically we allow Yin to follow Yang … for the heart mind to be guided by the wisdom mind.
Ok…so this sounds great…lets learn to balance our heart-mind and our wisdom mind! The problem is that our own mind states can be hard to really see and because we are our mind the process is slippery. Luckily, in Tai Chi, we have a well mapped process that has been tried and tested over the centuries. The process might look something like this:
- Start with an idea of ‘the purpose’. For most people the default state is for the heart-mind to ‘run riot’ and the wisdom mind to struggle to assert itself. So balancing involves focussing on what we want more of – that is wisdom.
- Find a good teacher!
- Use slow conscious movement to practice feeling your body. This has two effects – the slowing of your body calms your heart-mind down and the focussing on feeling engages your wisdom mind.
- Practice going deeper into the feeling experience and become aware of increasingly subtle sensations. This strengthens the two effects.
- Develop a practice habit. The ‘unpressured’ habit to practice strengthens your ‘will’. Will in turn supports the strengthening of the wisdom mind.
- Remember that we do not want to attack or even try to diminish the heart-mind – this is the source of our passion and enables the rich texture of our experience. We want to balance the two aspects of mind.
- As you practice notice how mental distraction arises. Start to clarify for yourself the difference between the wisdom and heart mind states. With wisdom you empower your ability to choose and develop personal freedom. The heart mind represents your reactions to reality including primal reactions (eg fear of rats) socialised reactions (eg anxiety about doing the ‘right’ thing) and, for most people, trauma reactions (strong reactions that protect us against perceived threats based on past traumatic experiences). Your heart-mind strongly relates to mental and emotional memory.
- Develop patience and allow yourself time to change & grow.