Notes for Scottish T’ai Chi workshop ………….
From Outer to Inner – Joint and muscle changes.
The mind forms an intention to move, impulses from the nervous system are sent to the muscles, the pressure sensors in the muscles monitor the change, the micro fibres in the muscles change condition, causing the body of the muscles to change shape, this causes the joints to change position, finally enabling the gross shape of the body to change and move spatially.
It is said in Taiji there are no secrets, only things too small to be seen. This training method is systematic, it teaches us how to form the intention to find what to listen to, where to listen, and the timing of listening for the right thing, in the right place at the right time. Then intention and awareness are developed simultaneously, the mind is naturally focused internally, within the moment. The superficial mind becomes quieter as it is absorbed with endlessly tracking sensation, and the deeper awareness naturally grows This practice takes us from outer awareness into an ever deepening internal awareness.
Always use the first few movements to establish a quietening of the mind; this creates the correct conditions for the attention to be directed to the genuine internal sensations of the body.
Loose, smooth, relaxed outer movements enable the clear perception of changes that flow through the body in every part of every movement.
The whole body moving as one connected and co-ordinated whole, and accuracy of movement, are the beginnings of developing spatial awareness eg. Feet shoulder width apart, knees in line with feet; arms lift to height of shoulders then sink. Crown suspended. Timing the movement with the breath, breathing in to lift, breathing out to fall gives the correct impulse to relax and sink into alignment. Sacral connection moves from foot to foot to establish a connected base.
This begins the awareness of coordination and connection of whole body movement
Centre (Waist) moving first.
This begins the awareness of turning, the horizontal dimension of movement, and of forming an intention for one part to move ahead. From the centre moving first comes spiralling movement, centre, shoulders, arms. From spiralling movement comes the awareness of stretching sensations in the muscles, as one part begins to move ahead of another.
Coordinated Mind and Movement – As the body moves, the mind awareness lifts through the body to the crown of the head, mind awareness drops slowly through the body, as the body sinks, to the feet. The timing of listening is in the same timing and place as the outer body movement. This begins the awareness of moving the mind through the body with the body movement.
Listening more deeply into the body.
Big joint changes ……..as they are the easiest to sense (hear), lifting from the ground up: first the ankles, then knees, then pelvis, then chest, finally the shoulders. Sinking and settling into the ground we also listen from the ground up: ankles, knees, pelvis, lower back, chest, shoulders. This is the beginning of a controlled relaxed alignment.
Large muscle groups, listening to the sequential contraction on lifting …. feet, calves, thighs, buttocks, back muscles, muscles around the shoulder blades and shoulder joint muscles, and muscles in the neck ……… relaxation falling into alignment, sequential release into…. feet, calves, thighs, buttocks, back muscles, shoulder blade muscles, shoulder joint muscles, upper arm muscles, and back of neck .
This is the beginning of releasing and semi natural alignment.
Small muscle changes. With the intention to lift, the small muscle changes are sensed before the gross shape of each muscle changes and contracts on lifting,
With the Intention to fall, a deep melting sensation, releasing, occurs in each muscle in turn, so the body falls sequentially.
The quality of releasing is never ending, the deeper the mind perception the deeper the quality of releasing, and therefore the ability to give up inherent tension.
The timing of the intention and listening awareness of releasing (micro muscle changes) naturally starts to go a little ahead of the gross body movement.