I have always believed it is not the highest level to “practice what you preach” but to “preach what you practice.”
One day about 15 years ago I asked my teacher, Professor Wang; “why do I get so nervous when I do demonstrations?”
He told me something I was not expecting. “Even as a teacher, 90% of the Tai Chi you will ever do will be just for you.”
Do we have a personal practice, or do we practice only to teach, or impress or even to improve?
Do we ever just “play” Tai Chi?
There is nothing wrong with practicing to improve our skill level or performance in demos. I believe, however, that those things are better if they grow organically from our “practice.”
“Practice”, in this sense, needs to be an everyday thing, part of our ritual of life.
Center yourself, breathe deeply, flow with the rhythm of you heart-beat, your respiration, your body’s natural rhythm.
How do we connect with these rhythms? We can start with silence. We can start with quiet; not just our environment, but our mind, our breath and our muscles.
Have you ever wondered why you occasionally read about a Master who spends 30 minutes in the Wuji (ready position) posture before doing opening form? Could this be valuable? Could we spend even 5, 4 or even one minute? Or are we stepping into our practice quickly to “get it done” or “get it in today”?
If so, are we doing that with life? Can we dare to center ourselves in a personal practice and live the day “on Purpose”? Back in the 1970’s, when I was competing in target archery, Barbara, a local state champion told me that it was better to shoot one arrow a day mindfully then 100 a day just “going through the motions.” I want to challenge you and myself, to make a personal practice. It could be Tai Chi, Reiki, Qi Gong, meditation, archery or counted-cross stitch. You choose.