The Mind Inside Tai Chi: Sustaining a Joyful Heart by Henry Zhuang

Summary
  1. A good introduction into tai chi and why/how it is practiced
Key Takeaways
  1. Practicing tai chi helps create a sense of happiness and peacefulness
  2. Tai chi stems from wuji (non-being, formlessness, one, Tao)
  3. Must realize interdependence of yin (open/gentle) and yang (close/rigid)
    1. The balance between motion and stillness
  4. Spirits – virtue, courage, wisdom (deal with change), emotion, harmony (balance of yin/yang)
  5. Qi = vital energy. Tai chi aims to train the qi
  6. A major principle of tai chi is using intent instead of strength
  7. Source of life at the waist, tongue to palate, cat-like movements
  8. God is unity of person and nature (Tao) – seek emptiness and serenity
    1. Must quiet the mind before body – be balanced, calm and natural
    2. “The technique features are no more than conquering motion with stillness, hardness by softness, the swift with the slow, the big with the small, and retreating in order to advance. All of these are led by softness and serenity, and specific application of reversion is the movement of Dao – movement and development of all things tend to turn to the opposite direction.”
  9. True essence will reveal itself after practicing thousands of times
  10. Once there is no obstacle you will instantly understand true emptiness
  11. Self-cultivation is key to excelling in tai chi
  12. Tips
    1. Intent goes first, and form follows
    2. The waist dominates and the limbs follow
    3. Distinguish substantiality from insubstantiality and avoid double weightedness
    4. No serenity of the mind, no relaxation of the body
    5. Harmonize internal and external and align the upper and lower body
      1. Internal requires harmonies between mind (heart) and intent, the intent and qi as well as qi and force
    6. The qi is excited and the momentum surges out
    7. Be extremely soft and then extremely hard
    8. Seek for harmony and integrity and go with the flow
  13. 4 Principles of Tai Chi
    1. Use no strength instead of using any (inherent force)
    2. Use asamsktra-dharma instead of samsktra-dharma (follow the opponent instead of oneself)
    3. Concert stiffness of the body into softness and flexibility (from solid to fluid)
    4. Improve the one-dimensional advancing and retreating, to and fro, and opening and closing to become three dimensional or four and a half dimensional, from points to lines and planes and bodies become even super three dimensional
  14. Levels of Tai Chi
    1. Yin and yang are mutually containing, dependent and complementing
    2. Follow the bodywork essentials
    3. Hollowing the chest to raise the back, wrapping the crotch, protecting the stomach, suspending the head top, suspending the crotch, relaxing the shoulders and sinking the elbows
    4. Have alignment between shoulders and hips, hips and knees, as well as hands and feet
    5. Have harmony between the mind and intent, intent and qi, as well as qi and force
    6. Accord with the knacks
    7. Intent goes first, and form follows; the waist dominates, and the limbs follow
    8. Discern substantiality from insubstantiality and avoid double weightedness
    9. No serenity of the mind, no relaxation in the body
    10. Harmonize internal and external and align the upper and lower body
    11. The qi is excited and the momentum surges out
    12. Be extremely soft and then extremely hard. Seek for harmony and integrity and go with the flow
    13. Be familiar with the 13 postures – peng, lu, ji, an, cai, lie, zhou, kao, advance, retreat, gaze left, look right and settle at the center
  15. 5 mindsets
    1. Sincerity, determination, confidence, perseverance, patience
  16. Power rooted in feet, released by legs, controlled by waist and manifested in fingers
  17. Buddha dharma (impermanence, non self, nirvana) and tai chi (yin/yang) a powerful combination
  18. Tips
    1. Intent first
    2. Breathe slowly and naturally
    3. Practice slowly
  19. Mistakes
    1. Stiffness, hunching the shoulders, lifting the elbows, sunken chest, protruding bottom, kneeling, tight hips, pointed crotch, incoherence, ups and downs
What I got out of it
  1. Proper posture, intent before form, no strength, empty mind before can achieve relaxed body, purpose of tai chi