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The Inner Practice of Tai Chi and Qigong
By Marilyn Allysum
As Published in “Living Light” magazine
From within our heart, we began to perceive the inner way, the way which is discovered in the silence. The deep stillness that transcends our understandings, the natural flow that becomes the dance, the movement, when the depth of the moment fills us with equanimity and composure, each moment ushering in the next, with rapt attention we grow ever calmer, breathing ever deeper, touching the source, and inhaling the essence…..The sure movements of Tai Chi swirl inward, waves of unspeakable energy crystallize and spiral upwards, the form becoming form, becoming formless, lost in the perfect cadence…the heart beats ever slower, the mind thoughts drop off, imbibing the solitude, the sureness of each posture, indescribable quietness, we dance the dance of calm assuredness, gently swaying to the gusts of Qi, spiraling up from our roots…we are the movements of the Tai Chi, the Grand Ultimate union, the age old rhythms pulse in time with our breathing…we touch, we see, we hear unspoken sounds, unspoken images.
Sounds wonderful…and we would always like to be in this aware, refreshing state of consciousness. The student of any path of self-awareness is on a search to unlock the mysteries of the heart and spirit – to carry no conflict, no burden, no shadow. If we want full results, we must invest full attention throughout our practice and carry it into our daily living. The great spiritual Master, Lao Tsu, lived and spoke to bequest us to enter into our highest potential with words such as: “The Tao that can be told is not the eternal Tao. Ever desireless, one can see the mystery. Ever desiring, one sees the manifestations. Go far into the Void and there rest in quietness. More words count less… Hold fast to the center.”
What comes between us and our ability to achieve our goal?
In Tai Chi practice, we come upon two postures strung together:
Embrace Tiger and Return to Mountain.
These titles imply a deeper road of investigation into the nature of the mind and spirit. To embrace the tiger regards how we must diligently introspect our thoughts (the subtle, cunning, persuasive thoughts) and lovingly work to embrace them. If we try going to battle and fight the distractions that come up, what we really do is we give them our most precious faculty, our attention ~ and with it our vital energy, and the thoughts swell up with it and are even harder to release. It is only when we regularly practice fixing the attention (as an embrace) with full undivided concentration that our hearts (spirit) will become strong like the mountain, and we can remain in one-pointed attention. If we want to live in true harmony, we must have complete mastery over our thoughts. In the Dhammapada from Buddha, verse 1 reads: “What we are today comes from our thoughts of yesterday and our present thoughts build our life of tomorrow. Our life is the creation of our mind.”
How do we shift from serving the mind, to having the mind serve the higher self? What steps must we follow in order to become free from the prison of myriad thoughts? Since our minds are indeed diffuse, and have the ability to rapidly digress at any moment, I believe the first step to practically learn the skill of quieting the mind is to practice meditation. Another valuable training method as we go about all of our tasks is to do one thing at a time. This means to adhere totally to trying to perform one operation at a time with an alert, concentrated mind, rather than trying to perform several things simultaneously. An example: when we are driving, we focus on driving and don’t get involved in discussions, or listening to music, etc. Imagine going to a concert to find that while playing, the musician is also trying to eat a sandwich and answer a cell phone! We expect the performer to be in touch with the music with one-pointedness, yet we as listeners may wander to other topics as we listen, or begin to look around at the audience. So we should train ourselves at all times and strengthen our discrimination.
As Sant Ajaib Singh aptly addressed aspirants:
“In every group, whether they are the Eastern Dear Ones or the Western Dear Ones, I always remind them of a couple of very important things. If we remember those things and if we follow those things, it helps all the dear ones who follow those things to stop their wandering minds. It helps them to progress in the Path of Devotion because they are very important things and if we remember them, if we follow them, we can progress in the meditation very easily. You know that there are more waves of the mind than the waves of the Ocean. One wave is followed by another one. All the fantasies, all the thoughts which we are having in our mind, day and night, are nothing but the waves of the mind. And because of those waves, because of those thoughts of the mind, we are bound in this world.
“Some people do say that we should not repress the desires of the mind, but the truth is that, if you go on feeding the mind, if you go on fulfilling the desires of your mind, the desires will never come to an end ~ because after one desire is fulfilled, mind creates another desire. The wandering mind, the mind who is not still, can take you to your disaster, because no matter how many desires of the mind you fulfill, (it) will go on creating more and more.
“In the beginning, outwardly, we have to make the efforts; we have to struggle to stop these desires, stop the waves. But once we go on doing the meditations, along with making the effort - making the struggle to suppress the waves of the mind – then our direction changes; we get strength from our within not to pay any attention to the desires, and our within gets illuminated. We get the Light within us, and then we do not have any difficulty in controlling these waves of the mind.”