- Is Tai chi and chi kung the most natural way to promote physical fitness and health?
- Should tai chi and chi kung therefore be practiced in natural slow movement?
The practice of tai chi and chi kung indeed should be (and are seen to be) practiced in a slow way whenever there is movement. Yet it is not moving slowly in a natural way, like casual strolling in the park. If THAT be the case, there is nothing exciting about the practice of tai chi and chi kung.
The way to practice tai chi and chi kung is far from natural. Take an example. In the practice of standing meditation (zhan zhuang), the most important requirement is "points stretched and body relaxed" and NOT total relaxation. Incidentally this is the same requirement for seated meditation of the Zen type or the Taoist type. Those who practice seated meditation with total relaxation (even with listening to meditation music) are either practicing day-dreaming or sleep-dreaming. They might be a bit refreshed after the session, but it is NOT meditation, in the proper sense of the word as practice.
In zhan zhuang, the points (in the beginning stage) are always the fingers and hands (and the toes and feet if one is more sensitive; for those less sensitive students, their toes and feet will be stretching anyway without their conscious effort due to the requirement of "half-asleep while standing"). Now comes the key concept. When a student consciously prepares himself towards the "points stretched and body relaxed" condition, his chi will naturally flow around his body. And with more practice, he can actually feel such flow. In order words, "points stretched and body relaxed" results from a unnatural conscious effort (plus other requirements such as a half-asleep mental state") while the chi flow is the resulting natural process of healing.
I have only used zhan zhuang as an example here. The concept cover (almost) everything in the practice of tai chi and chi kung. In a future post, I shall discuss how the "unnatural way" is practiced during movements.