7 May 2012
chi Kung, eight pieces of silk, five golden coins, tai chi, taiji
This morning, I woke up thinking, “it’s time to do eight pieces of silk.”
Ok, but I don’t know the Eight Pieces of Silk. This is an internal qi gong form with three more postures than the one I do now, and some of its postures are rather different than the ones I do now. Nonetheless, I woke up from a sound sleep thinking, I should do this.
So I did what any self-respecting 21st century qi gong practitioner should do. I looked at YouTube, and found dozens, if not hundreds, of people showing off their interpretation of the Eight Pieces of Silk. Here’s one of the ones I watched, to get a sense of how many of the exercises one is supposed to do.
I only did three of the exercises this morning, in addition to my regular practice. It’s going to take some time to learn a full new form. But here’s the thing. My knees no longer creak, and my shoulders and arms and legs and flanks are getting stronger (my belly isn’t shrinking, but that’s a different problem. Really). On the other hand, I’ve reached a plateau. The Five Golden Coins in two months have opened up a lot of possibilities, but there’s limits to how much they can do. Likewise the main taiji form: I can, and will, keep practicing it. But accepting only its postures leads to another kind of rigidity.
Add something new from time to time. Keep learning. Keep moving. Keep stretching the body. Keep finding new ways to ask it to grow in strength, power, beauty and grace.
25 April 2012
chi, chi Kung, five golden coins, taiji
A few days ago, I chose to work the subroutines — to know each set of postures that come back to a repeated leitmotif. Today I worked them doubly: there’s that main sequence of four moves:
- roll back
- [Buddha's Palm] – technically part of single whip
- single whip
That keeps repeating all through the form. Its effect is to turn one around — wherever one is in the room, it aims you for the opposite wall or corner. Yet there’s an additional subtlety: as one comes out of Buddha’s palm into single whip, one can step to the inside or outside. The result is that the next sequence can be aimed to the left or to the right.
So, by adding that extra “single whip inside” or “single whip outside” one can double the length of the form, because now each sequence is repeated twice. The lungs were heaving like bellows at the end of this morning’s session. There was another curious effect, though: I used the whole room. There wasn’t a nook or cranny in the whole office that I didn’t have to step into, and I could have used even more floor space than I had.
Side effect: one of my students reports that he can see my aura, and that it’s quite wide compared with other people. Is this the taiji, or meditation, or both? I don’t exactly feel auras, but he says he wants to learn more. Hmm.