Posted by: Mike Ferruggia | December 2, 2009

The Contemplative Connection to Tai Chi

The practice of tai chi chuan has many benefits–it is good for your physical health, and it is perhaps the highest level martial art one can learn, perhaps the most effective if learned well and practiced correctly. But it is also a practice of the contemplative life. There is a palpable connection or recognition or awareness or understanding of who we are and our place in the universe when we practice tai chi. All the answers come flooding to us in experiences of knowing. We get it intuitively in the slowness of movement, of the integration of body mind and spirit(this trinity has been invoked so much it has lost some of its real meaning; I’m surprised we haven’t seen it on a cereal box yet: “The breakfast of body mind and spirit”). We sense it in the centering that takes place, in the circles arcs and spirals of the form, in the inner transformation.

Like prayer, if tai chi is rushed because we’re trying to get it in before going to work or getting on our horse to get the chores done, it loses a lot of its effectiveness. We have to sit into it and enjoy it. It’s one of the arguments for short forms; we are able to take our time with fewer moves and get more out of them; we don’t get anxious at the third run of cloud hands, wanting to get the form over with.

In practicing tai chi and qi gong and seated meditation, we are doing what we do in centering prayer. Experiencing the numenous, divine reality of who we are, becoming more fully human.

With teaching, whether catholic or taoist, we round out who wse are with virtues of character–we are humble, modest, practitioners of correct action, honorable, loyal, innocent, pure and holy.

There is holiness to life. There is holiness recognized while doing tai chi.


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