David de Souza
The Lessons from Tai Chi
Tai Chi is often compared to the soft flowing of water overcoming the hardest rock.
Edda de Souza has been practicing Tai Chi for 21 years (she is also my mum!). I asked her 4 questions about Tai Chi: what lessons can be learned from her practice and what principles can be applied to other areas in a multidisciplinary way:
1. What do you consider 'beauty' in Tai Chi?
Tai Chi is a series of linked movements, called the form, concentrating on slow, flowing, circular movements. I like the graceful, controlled, and yet free-flowing series of movements which are unique to Tai Chi. Tai Chi movements are used in a very precise, definite, and meticulous way which appeals to me.
2. Have you noticed that some principles from Tai Chi can be applied to another area?
The Tai Chi form consists of Yin and Yang movements. Yang is a pushing out (open) movement followed by Yin which is a retracting (close) movement. According to Taoist philosophy, everything can be seen in terms of yin and yang. The yin-yang symbol consists of YIN, the black side, which represents softness and stillness, whereas YANG, the white side, represents hard movements. YIN represents softness and effortlessness and YANG represents tremendous power. These two halves of opposites join together to form a whole like the smooth flow between night and day, the flow of Spring, Summer and Winter, the cycle of life and death. Tai Chi is often compared to the soft flowing of water overcoming the hardest rock.
Tai Chi is often called a movement meditation. In order to practice the Tai Chi form correctly (the traditional Yang style consists of 108 postures and takes about 15 minutes to complete), you have to focus your mind and concentrate. This can help our concentration in other areas of life and can help to achieve other goals. For example, we started a building project 7 years ago and kept our mind and efforts on this project having progressed in a slow but satisfying way and have now very nearly achieved our goal. Patience and self-discipline need to be cultivated, qualities that you develop through regular practice and which will set a pattern for attaining other kinds of self-control, helping you to focus your mind, cultivate detachment and achieve results through concentration.
3. What small things make a big difference in Tai Chi?
When practiced correctly, Tai Chi helps to circulate the body's internal energy. Minor positional errors can create energy blockages. In order to generate real energy, it is important to pay attention to the small details of Tai Chi, looking for quality rather than quantity.
4. What is the biggest misconception or the biggest mistake that people make about Tai Chi?
Tai Chi is not merely a system of physical exercise, but a complete discipline that integrates exercise, martial art and spirituality.