Part 2 of 2
Feeling your Qi in Tai Chi and Qigong is like the inner game within the game. If you are worried about where to put your hands and feet and which move comes next, your mind isn’t focused on the direction where feeling your Qi is found. The first game in Tai Chi or Qigong is learning the moves. For Tai Chi players learning the moves takes a considerable amount of effort. Sometimes it can be much easier to learn Qigong because there are fewer movements, and they might be much simpler. Once you have learned the movements you need to become good enough at them that you as a bare minimum, can perform them from memory easily. Realistically, you need to practice enough that your movements become familiar friends that take little mental effort to do correctly with good posture.
The next step is to be able to focus your mind on what you are doing with sufficient concentration to also be aware of your breathing in addition to your movement continuously. This is a huge leap. At the start it is difficult to focus on anything continuously. Our minds tend to jump to thoughts and feelings about the past or future. Our minds can jump from thought to thought and feeling to feeling without becoming focused and directed on a single subject.
Many modern, successful people are able to achieve admirable levels of concentration and focus on the conceptual processes of their professional skills. However, being able to concentrate consistently on important conceptual trains of thought or processes does not always translate to being able to achieve the same level of concentration and awareness on the sensations of the body. In some cases, it seems some brilliant people become so completely focused on the incredibly complex and demanding realities of their work that they become more mentally focused and lose some of their awareness of and connection to their body. Poor body awareness makes poor coordination and poor balance unavoidable. Improving our body awareness and coordination is one of the most important benefits of Tai Chi because these qualities directly prevent falls and other traumatic injuries.
Focusing on your deep breathing while you move slowly calms your mind. Calming your mind allows you to find the ping pong balls lying on the ground after the hurricane. With a calm mind focused on your breathing, posture, and movement you will begin to distinguish the many sensations of your body with far greater clarity. You will also begin to notice how your posture directly influences the sensations of your body and how good posture feels much better and poor posture just doesn’t feel so good. Sensations that were grey on grey will start to become much clearer and blacker and whiter.
Making subtler and more precise body alignment possible allows you to fine tune your blood circulation throughout every part of your body. This circulation not only heals your body, but also strengthens and cleanses your blood. Since your Blood is the mother of your Qi, this improves the foundation for your robust Qi, as your healthy blood supply fully develops.
As you keep practicing focused on the physical sensations of your breath, posture, and movement you will start naturally uniting them with a clear, calm mind. At this point it becomes apparent how our breath and posture interact with our mind, and how our mind can enhance the pleasant and beneficial feelings that indicate healing and rejuvenation by focusing our attention. This is the stage where we can say we are feeling our Qi and guiding our Qi with our mind. Then you can guide your blood with your Qi and heal your body. Now you are playing the game within the game.
Practicing your Qi awareness infused Tai Chi or Qigong quickly leads to these sensations becoming much stronger, clearer, and even more pleasant. At higher levels of practice all of these elements of posture, breath, movement, focus, Qi, and blood all unite in a blissful state of relaxation and harmony. These dramatic inner fireworks show up externally as a smile and a pleasant, healthy day filled with friends.