Often when people see or begin practicing tai chi qigong in my classes, they silently wonder or ask "why are the movement so slow?".
And why just stand for more than a few minutes?
How can that be useful for anything?
And sometimes when practicing people may feel frustrated, bored or awkward. Maybe even assuming it is the practice itself causing those feelings, rather than the result of the attitudes and beliefs about them one subconsciously or consciously chooses.
Many exercise & movement arts involve fast or acrobatic movements. Such as dance, spin, acrobatic yoga postures, many martial arts, running, etc.. And some people practice faster versions of qigong & tai chi.
These are of course beneficial in their own ways. I've also enjoyed taking various dance and yoga classes through the years. And I find them to be enriching, and complimentary to my core zhan zhuang and tai chi qigong practice.
While some people view the art, lifestyle or certain ways or traditions they practice, feel more comfortable with or prefer as the best or only "real" way, I feel there are many equally valid, enjoyable and enriching arts and ways of creating & finding appreciation, meaning & benefits.
There need not be an either - or, dogmatic attitude which looks down on or disrespects other practices & options in life. In fact doing so is generally an expression of short sighted lack of appreciative awareness. Often deepened by confirmation biased attitudes and interpretations.
And what we appreciate and prefer at some nows in life, can and often does shift and expand as we open our minds to new layers of understanding. Sometimes in totally new ways. And sometimes returning to arts & other experiences with renewed layers of appreciation.
While different people practice and teach qigong in diverse ways and pace, I find generally relaxing into a fairly slow flow of movement to be especially enriching in many ways.
Additional to the stillness of zhan zhuang standing meditation, moving slowly in tai chi qigong nourishes a calming of our nervous system.
Helping shift from a sympathetic fight or flight mode of being, into a calmer parasympathetic quality.
This supports our well-being in many ways. Including helping regain some inner balance from the effects of common stressors experienced in our lives.
Slow movement also allows us more relative time - space to more fully, sensitively relax into feeling multidimensional aspects of our embodying being. To deepen our appreciative feeling awareness beyond easily habitualized carrot-on-a-stick preoccupied focus on some future time or goal.
If we feel bored, frustrated or impatient with moving slowly, essentially that often reflects a lack of appreciation for being fully in the now. A dissonance between our real actual self and our socially presented or idealized self, ideas & behaviors.
We may blame it on the slowness or stillness of the practice. Yet it is more honest & healthfully empowering to recognize that there is no ultimate end goal or moment when practicing.
And that there is timeless enrichment, beauty, enjoyment and expansive depth available in savoringly relaxing into quietly appreciative feeling awareness.
Opening our heart - soul consciousness and allowing such to feelingly saturate & enliven our embodying nature, transforms seemingly flat feeling external physical postures or mechanical movements into nuanced universes of fulfilling metaphysical embodying feeling awareness not bound by verbal language or dogmatic ideas about life.
An old analogy is "silk reeling". Drawing silk from silk worms in ancient times was said to be done by hand. Very slowly, gently and smoothly drawing a single silk thread from a silk worm, so to keep it whole.
Similarly when moving in tai chi qigong practice, moving with quietly calmly appreciative focus throughout our whole body evenly, unifies, sensitizes and energetically nourishes our being.
While zhan zhuang and moving qigong practices can bring unresolved energies and beliefs up to be recognized and transformed which can feel uncomfortable, as we allow it also can enable us to more fully honestly recognize, feel & be more naturally free of artifice, assumptive projections, normalized embodied blockages, constrictions and tension.
Opening us to increasingly embody universal essence of being - Life energy, even as we are individuating expressions of life exploring diverse ways of meaning & being.
Some of the most fulfilling, "enlightening" experiences I've enjoyed through my years of practice, have included when I've relaxed appreciatively into flowing into only one or a few movements anywhere from 1-30 minutes or so.
Feeling movement flowing from deep in the earth beneath the feet up through legs, hips, waist, spine and out arms & hands.
Expanding awareness in all directions. While movement in one direction is counterbalanced with spring like compressing quality in the leg we are shifting into.
And like our breathing and heart pulse, mindful of the rhythmic expansions and contractions of all of our movements. In all dimensions of our being.
Appreciating embodying yin & yang.
As we slow down, we open ourselves to be more aware & curious about the subjective fluidity of meaning, interpretations and experiences.
Quieting and growing beyond loud or rigid, knee jerk & blinding assumptions & projections, by being more openly curious and honest with ourself, each other and about our beliefs and feelings.
While lubricating & releasing even normalized patterns of constrictive or jerky movement.
Some moments feel easier than others, of course. Some nows we feel as more challenging. And some nows so easily blissfully fully present and wholly immersed in standing and near stillness of slow movements.
There is no ultimate physical place or posture to rush to.
Only the eternal now to relax into focused, fully appreciatively embodying. 💙