deep mind movement - taiji in zurich
The following four parts of the class are practiced quietly and concentrated in a flow as much as possible without interruption. They complement and reinforce each other in the attempt to move our consciousness deeper and deeper into the body and into ever more subtle processes.
The loosening exercises make the muscles soft and free. We start by practicing controlled, smooth contraction and relaxation. Later some muscle groups can relax almost completely while the movement is controlled by only a few muscles activating softly. The breathing becomes deep and free. We focus more and more on the inner movement – the relative movements between individual body parts. The outer movement of the body through space is shifting to the background of our awareness.
In the form (choreography done as a group) the main challenge at first is to keep our balance and to coordinate the movements of all body parts while moving through space. We learn to keep our mind deeply connected to our body while at the same time being aware of the people around us and coordinating our movement with them. Each movement is connected to the inhale or exhale, causing a subtle pressure wave through the body – similar to a massage or lymphatic drainage. At a more advanced stage the focus of this exercise is the coordination of pressure waves and elastic forces throughout the body.
At the end of the form we should feel full of energy and deeply concentrated. We take this state as a basis for the next part of the training.
The partner exercises, called pushing hands, consist of a set of attack and defense movements. They are practiced in a smooth and fluent, explicitly non-competitive way with a minimum of force applied. All the additional complications that come with the interaction between partners provide us a good opportunity to try and stay deeply concentrated under more pressure. The main focus of this exercise is the development of a sensitivity for the very subtle pressure or tension that prepares movement and thus precedes any interaction.
The meditation is a next step to deeper concentration into the body and beyond. We leave all outer movement behind and learn to forget the outside world completely in order to concentrate fully on internal processes.
First, we reduce the activity of our superficial mind – the part of our mind that manages our daily life. This reduction of activity is the same as when we fall asleep at night. We use the breathing to support it.
Just before we would drift off into sleep or daydreaming, we bring all our concentration into our body by listening for sensations in our hands and feet and later throughout the whole body. We listen specifically for the internal body sensors of pain, pressure and heat. They feel like tingling, fullness and warmth. This activates a deeper state of consciousness, which we then continue to train and stabilize by spreading and moving the fullness and warmth through the body.
The deep concetration into the body forms the basis for the subsequent occupation with emotional processes. We become more aware of our connections with other people and try to influence them positively.
The initially inevitable share of imagination in this exercise gradually gives way to genuine, clear perception and fine but direct control of subtle processes, which otherwise are barely conscious.