Am I Doing it Wrong?

While practicing tai chi you may find yourself thinking, and my doing it wrong. This is natural. You just need to refocus on your tai chi and try to be in the now. I am reminded of the times my Buddhist friend would come by my home at four in the morning and tap on my window to wake me up for our session of meditation. At the time I was teaching at three schools and working a full-time job at a restaurant. My mind was very full. He told me it was natural for my mind to be full of doubt as I meditated. When that happened I was to refocus on meditation, that was it. He encouraged me that I would be able to focus longer the more I practiced “no mindedness” during our meditation. As soon as I stopped worrying that I was meditating wrong it became easier and I was able to focus. It is natural to feel that your movements are different than your instructors while practicing alone in your backyard. The most important thing is that you are practicing. Even if you are practicing your movement differently than the instructor showed you, it is a lot easier for them to correct you versus teach you the movement again. Because most likely they will be learning a new movement during your next class and having to learn the old movement again plus the new movement you could feel overwhelmed and the urge to quit will enter your mind. So, in summary practice, practice, practice. Right movement or wrong movement both are right.

4 thoughts on “Am I Doing it Wrong?”

  1. So much has been written about the art and or practice of meditation, with so much confusion intermixed by all forms of teachers personal beliefs. I’ve found there is an inability for both teachers and students to accept, that our minds need to be occupied, some teachers call this “monkey mind” but thankfully, there are numerous techniques that can be applied to aid our TaiChi practices.

    1. Hi Sal,

      True, some confusion and personal beliefs mark this inability to communicate to students. Most of this inability rest in languages inability to express the actual meaning. The word “mindless” or “empty minded” for example is used and “confused” often by martial artists. Nonetheless, the expression can lead one to the actual meaning. The Sanskrit term Shunyata (empty) as it is related to the mindless state of mind is a concept that is attempting to illustrate that the “monkey mind” is a state of the mind that covers and obscures a deeper sense and function of the intuitive mind. Through the practice of Shamatha (Dwelling in tranquility) meditation the function is to calm the monkey mind like one would calm the surface of the water, what this does is allow the subtler states of the mind to function, as the more refined states begin to function one gets a deeper degree of understanding that is not held back by the surface of intellectual thoughts or words. Consequently, the wise of old have always had “great doubt” in language to express the meaning in reality. As expressed by the great Indian teacher Nagarjuna; if the word fire in itself were real, then it would burn one’s mouth. This being said, the wise do not cling to words and seek experience through practice, practice practice as stated by the great Tai-Chi master Tony Smith.

      1. Thank you Bob.
        – Bob Rollins was an instructor with me at the Constant Moral Fist Kung Fu and Tai Chi School in Sacramento CA. He was a student of Buddhism and I of Taoism. We had some great discussions about Life, Martial Art and Learning. He is now the Abbot at a Buddhist Monastery in Nevada. I look forward to continuing our discussions…

        1. Hello Bob,
          I have contemplated much and learned much less, while playing at TaiChi during my Path. Happily, now and most eagerly into the future, I am anticipating much more play with Sifu Tony in our time together.

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