Posted by: Mike Ferruggia | April 16, 2009

Tai Chi Alchemy

When we practice tai chi, we focus on the dan tien, 2 to 3 inches below the belly button, our center of energy. Here, we process “jing,” or natural essences, food, water, saliva, hormonal fluids, lymph, blood, etc., and turn it into chi. This is an internal alchemy that takes place, and I’m expressing it in traditional language in order to describe something that takes place in the body, which is not just mystical, and not just physiological, but a bit of both. Through disciplined practice of tai chi, chi kung, and meditation, a practitioner will naturally change chi to shen, or spiritual energy.

In the contemplative life, there is a focus on the transformation of a person into a new man or woman. The same is true in tai chi. The person is transformed into a tai chi person, a person of awareness, heightened consciousness and wisdom, integrity, modesty, who has developed good gong fu. This is the alchemy, the change, the transformation that takes place. One becomes graceful, has an inner strength, has a quiet heart, an inner silence.

And the new man or woman, transformed, offers the world a new way, a way of peace, gentleness, shared responsibility, and harmony, a way of integrity and truth.

Steel is forged in the fire, and is folded over many times. The same with us. With each repitition of the form, with each set of chi kung, with each session of sitting in stillness, the human character is folded and molded, and the new person emerges.

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