Taijiquan and patience: a keyword in tai chi (taijiquan) is patience. Doing the slow movements makes you slow down. You have to slow down.
After only a few lessons in tai chi (taijiquan) you will experience how good it feels when your heartbeat, your breathing, your whole metabolism becomes calmer. Because you have to focus on doing the movements the right way – with relaxed muscles, a good posture, shifting your weights consciously, moving against a gentle resistance, etc – your mind gets a rest too. If you continue thinking about other things, like your shopping list or work – you will make mistakes. Then you are not doing taiji anymore, but just gymnastics. Practicing taiji lets you reload, your feel much more energetic and clear afterwards. In that respect you can compare it to meditation. But it also makes you physically stronger, more flexible and a more balanced. Both the British and the American Arthritis Foundations rate taijiquan as the number one exercise for fall prevention.
When you live a high-paced life, you will at first feel a resistance to what happens to you when you slow down. Doing taijiquan doesn’t feel good right away, maybe even the opposite. If you are not willing to go through this, you will never experience the physical and mental relaxation on the other side. A fellow taiji student with a very demanding and stressful job once told me that during the warming up exercises she always experiences a revolt: she wants to run out of the studio. But she stays and finishes the session because she feels so wonderfully serene during the rest of it.
Taijiquan gets better all the time. Patience is times’ best friend.
Martijntje Goudsmit, October 2013