Yet another meaty discussion tonight! The topic "shortcuts to improve your taiji skills" turned out to be a tricky one, if not also a 'trick' question (oh my)! People were either confused about what I meant by shortcut (you'll have to read to the end to know), or didn't believe in taking shortcuts! 

Our group today shared the following messages: 

1. Taiji skills are improved through practice. This may sound obvious, but it was beautiful to hear the specific examples and sentiments, many shared by today's participants:
  • serendipity: practice brings discovery and revels of the unexpected
  • each practice (e.g., of the hand form) feels better than the last one because you can discover and improve
  • continue taking classes not only allows one to keep practicing (which one might otherwise skip), but also gives the opportunity to keep acquiring new realizations, from/about the same concept or instruction. (Everybody resonated on this one!) 
  • while as a beginner one should generally only learn from one master/instructor, as one's practice progresses it's helpful to observe and learn from different masters -- seeing the same form executed or explained differently broadens our understanding
  • always keep a "beginner's mind" -- humility, gratefulness, and open-mindedness -- helps one learn and improve
2. We exchanged tips and techniques on:
  • how to practice relaxation when transitioning between postures in the hand form
  • how to prepare for better breathing during meditation 
3. From an email contributor: "Once I had learned how to properly sit on my kua, transferring energies from ground to using dantian strength to propel upper body movements was most fun and satisfying; it felt like I was doing proper taiji! [...] The shortcut would be to have a mentor who coaches you, to correct your posture and give you tips and advice to improve on your alignment and strength, etc....!"

4. My own "shortcut" tips came out as a full-on lecture. (Sorry everyone but are you really surprised!) The main idea is: when you feel stuck (i.e., little or slow progress, difficult move still difficult), try something you haven't tried before. Some concrete examples: 
  • moving slowly; 
  • moving REALLY slowly (as we did in our meditation today); 
  • go back to the Wuji Stance, and add one variation at a time -- e.g., raising one arm, raising two arms -- without affecting the rest of the wuji posture; 
  • at the beginning of a posture, set the perfect ending posture in your mind (you may need to practice the ending posture plenty of times for your body and mind to remember it) and trust your body to complete the rest; 
  • sometimes, going the opposite way could lead you to the solution you've been looking for - there could be many opposite ways, you figure out which ;) 
5. Next Thursday, March 11, 7-8pm, we will continue our Meditation (7-7:30 pm) and Taiji Chat (7:30-8 pm). You are welcome to send me topics you'd like to discuss, or wait to be surprised! 

Zoom link is the same: 
Topic: Taiji Meditation and Chats
Time: March 11, 2021 07:00 PM Pacific Time (US and Canada) 
Meeting ID: 842 2183 7967
Passcode: 202101
*** You are welcome to join either the meditation or the chat, or both! *** 

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