A simple example of learning to adapt and flow is with a balloon. Fill a balloon half with water, notice how it moves and changes shape. Now push, hit or poke the balloon; watch how it moves and distributes the energy that you have applied to it while coming back to its original form. You will notice how difficult it is to hit the balloon hard or find a solid place to hit it with any real force. The balloon has the ability to adapt to any degree of force. The more force you apply to the balloon the more the balloon moves out of the way by distributing the force we apply. Our taiji must be the same. We need to learn how to accept blows, hits and pushes, distribute them and come back to our center. Too often students never experience this phase of taiji or just overlook it. In taiji we must learn how to empty ourselves and the space we occupy at any given moment. Learning this teaches us how not to give our opponent anything to push against, giving us the advantage in every situation.
Finding Our Emotional, Spiritual, Mental Balance
From the moment we are born we are learning to take emotional, spiritual and mental blows. In fact birth starts with our mothers pushing us out of her womb. From that moment on our parents, teachers, brothers, sisters, schools, bosses, friends, husbands, wives, children, and society try pushing us into many different shapes and forms. Our world is full of energy pushing and shoving us in as many directions as possible. We find ourselves feeling like ping pong balls bouncing all over the place, not really knowing how to adapt to all this pushing and shoving. When this happens most people feel lost or their anger boils to the surface, or worst of all they become sick and their mental and or physical bodies become overwhelmed with the stress of not knowing what to do with all this energy coming towards them. We react in a couple of ways to avoid this pushing around. We become involved with drugs, alcohol, sex, partying or anything to dull our senses. We overwork to achieve money and power to become the ones that are now doing the pushing and shoving. Our bodies become sick with high blood pressure, heart disease, cancer, strokes etc...for if we get sick the world will stop pushing on us and we can find some peace. We find ourselves in constant pain and confusion trying to avoid all this pushing. When we learn and study taiji we learn how to adapt and deal with the pushing by letting go.
Unfortunately, we live in a society that thinks letting go is not macho; that fighting back is the manly thing to do. But remember heart attacks are still the number one killer of men and woman in our society. Why? Is it because were not macho enough? Letting go means learning how to flow and let life, (whether problems, situations, people, joys, unhappiness) just move in any direction without trying to control or change it.
It is amazing that as human beings we can look all around and see how this vast universe flows all around us. We can see the sun, moon, stars, planets, solar systems, flow all by themselves.
We can see in nature the flow of energy all around us; from the seasons, to the oceans, plants, animals, etc ... Our own bodies flow without our controlling it; our hearts, lungs, blood, digestion, etc.. all work without us lifting a single finger.
All around us we can see, feel, taste, hear, this great flow of the universe, the Dao. Yet we as human beings are always trying to act as if we are not part of the flow. We think we can in some way change the flow of the universe with our ego and will. How sad and silly it is to think that we spend most of our lives trying so hard to resist this flowing energy of life. We refuse to believe that life has no rhyme or rhythm to it, yet life is all about flow and rhythm. From sunrise to sunset, to waves on a sandy beach, the gentle winds that make trees dance, our hearts beating to a unknown tune, our lungs breathing, all to a rhythmic beat. All of this shows our life is full of seeing this unknown tune. One of the most profound ways to tap into this beat is through taiji. taiji helps us find the flow of life and puts us in the stream of the universe. When we do taiji everyday we find that our lives flow much better; that people and situations just happen without much effort. And through taiji when things dont go according to our plans we are not disturbed. We seem to move in the world with greater ease and a sense of balance. Others even treat us differently because we are not caught up in the madness of life. We exude a air of balance and peace that people around us.
When we study taiji we no longer feel pushed around by life, We are willing participants in the flow. We do not need to force and change every situation, realizing that we are part of the universe and the best thing to do is to not loose our balance. As stated in the Dao De Jing. The sage lets the ten thousands things raise and fall and is not moved by them This is the ideal of taiji. To let things happen without being affected by them, letting things take there natural course of action and only moving when the time is fight. When we keep our balance we can see and feel when it is time to take the right action and move in the right direction. Acting on things is part of flowing with life and the universe. Sensing when to act is as important as when not to act.