Rushing is probably the cause of most of our problems. That time you didn’t notice the uneven paving stone and tripped? You were probably rushing. That time you shouted at the kids because they couldn’t get their shoes on fast enough while leaving the house? You were rushing. That time you accidentally emailed a picture of yourself drunk to everybody in the company? You were definitely rushing then.
In nature, wild animals can move a lot faster than we do, but do they ever look like they’re rushing? A rabbit sprinting for its life to avoid a fox still moves with poise, dignity and grace. Compare that to the embarrassment of the average human running for a bus, an act in which the stakes are considerably lower! Even a cat, an animal known for incredible bursts of speeds pauses for a second before it makes that leap onto a table, so it can be aware of the entirety of the situation.
But how can we learn to stop rushing all the time and regain this poise which animals seem to naturally have? One answer is Tai Chi.
If you’ve been doing Tai Chi for a while, a good number of years, then you’ll know the form inside out. It’s no longer a fresh, new and exciting thing. In fact, your mind is probably bored with it. Here we go again, this same old moves. Sigh. Stand for a moment before you do the form and you’ll notice feelings of impatience start to creep in. Part of you will want to start rushing, to get it over with as quickly as possible
This is where your slowness training is useful. Do the form slowly, at an even pace and just keep doing it. Resist the call the start speeding up and rushing sections. Treat all parts with equal importance. Even the linking moves between the classic postures. Notice your breathing. Keep your awareness on what you’re doing. Don’t let the mind wander off – keep it in the body and keep bringing it back. If you do notice that it’s wandered off completely then stop and start the form again, no matter how far you’ve got. Slowly, day after day you build a kind of mental strength, and if you’re lucky you’ll find it seeps over into the rest of your life, and you’ll be less prone to rushing than you were before.
Stop rushing and you no longer slip up,
Stay in the moment and strains are no longer felt,
When strains and no longer felt, stresses start to disappear,
Once stresses disappear, you can walk lightly.
Walking lightly, smiling brightly.
5 thoughts on “Slowness training, or more accurately, ‘not rushing’, in Tai Chi”
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Very well said. I will share this with my class 🙂 Thanks!
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I also need to remind myself that just because I’m practising slow, it doesn’t mean that there’s anything static about the form…there’s constant (if very slow) movement. Sometimes that’s harder to get right than the ‘postures’ themselves.
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