Tai Chi is Rooted in Meditation
This was the last week of this semester and is the last posting on “rooting.” So here it is – How Tai Chi Chuan is rooted in meditation.
When I lived in Boulder, CO I was a part of the pervasive Buddhist community that Chogyam Trungpa created when he started Naropa Institute and a Dharma Center. I became a part of that lifestyle as I attended 3 hour sittings at the Dharma Center, assisted the instructors that Professor Cheng Man Ching sent to Naropa to teach tai chi and went through a Shambhala Training. I attended gatherings, talks and ceremonies.
In addition, there were many a time when I rode in the back of a food delivery truck on its way to the Taoist Community, Stillpoint in Manitou Springs to have audience with Gia-Fu Feng.
It was during those years that I was able to integrate the meaning and aspects that make Tai Chi Chuan a “Moving Meditation.”
In meditation there are mudras (hand/finger poses), mantras (repeated words or phrases), visualizations, guided imagery, connection with nature and the animal world (Native American and Taoist practices), toning (sounds), spiritual movement (as in Dervish whirling), body postures (like Yoga), and breathing (as in Kundalini Yoga). For sure there are probably other meditation techniques that I am not mentioning.
Although today many will practice Tai Chi Chuan as a form of calisthenics or simply body mechanics, void of the meditative inquiry, my experience has proven that much of the internal process of all the above styles of meditation, maybe not auditory toning 😉 are rooted in the Tai Chi Chuan form. (I want to note that there is a tone within that I can feel and almost hear when all is well within my form.)
I will break this down a bit further…
Mudra, body postures, connection with the animal world, and spiritual movement are the changing shapes in the form.
Mantras, visualizations and guided imagery are in some of the shapes of a posture and what you build into your awareness as in embodying the basic and advanced principles as the dynamic flow of chi (energy).
Breathing – Teachers will teach the movement/breath coordination differently, but for beginners and advanced students the objective is to be mindful of the breath and remember to breathe calmly.
Connecting with nature is part of being aware of the space around you (as if swimming in air) and, if you are doing your form with others, being aware and harmonizing with the “flow” of yourself with others. (Confucius perspective)
Peace and much love – Master Young