I had one of those moments the other day in practice, when my arms and legs just seemed to know what they were doing, and they just did it in the most easy and perfect manner.
And it reminded me of chapter 17 from the Dao De Jing (Tao Te Ching).
“When the master governs, the people are hardly aware that he exists……The master doesn’t talk, she acts. When his work is done, the people say, ‘Amazing, we did it, all by ourselves!’” ( Stephen Mitchell, translator)
The Dao De Jing (Tao Te Ching) is a guide for both the microcosm and the macrocosm, seeing how it is in heaven and earth, describing principles of governance for political systems, we can see this also applies to human social activity, and even to the activity within each of our own bodies.
Regarding my body’s movement in the taiji form, if I replace ‘master’ with ‘mind’ and ‘people’ with ‘limbs’, this is the feeling I had moving in the form. If the arms and legs could speak, they might’ve said , ”Amazing, we did it, all by ourselves!”
Let the mind reside in dantien
We learn the choreography of the form, so that the deeper taiji lessons can be practiced. One of these deeper lessons involves teaching the heart-mind, the Yi, to govern with less effort, to act and not talk, to reside in stillness, at center. The mind must learn to let the limbs move according to their inherent structure, in accord with the shape and function of the joints, muscles, sinews and tendons of the limbs themselves, without hindrance from the mind’s ideas.
The mind’s job is to lead without leading; wu wei. Wu wei refers to the Daoist notion of ‘doing without doing” or “non-action action” Wu wei refers to the state of being in which our actions are effortlessly in alignment with the ebb and flow of the elemental cycles of the natural world. This alignment allows us – without even trying – to respond perfectly to whatever situations arise.
In this case, it is natural for the heart-mind to lead the body, and so it must be the organizing force around which the limbs coordinate. The mind must hold the shape of the form, but it must back off, and let the body express the form according to the natural tendencies and structures of the body.
At least that is what it felt like for a moment or two.
Til the Next Move, enjoy your practice –