At a Saturday zoom session in December 2020, one of the directors talked about this time of self-practice as a time to do our own research, to practice every day, to document our observations, and then present our paper. I was intrigued by this, and had the idea of “researching” a specific difficulty of mine, which was poor anchoring of the feet as I moved through the movements of Taoist Tai Chi® arts and when doing the Tor Yu. My foot would lose contact with the floor, and my heel would slip as I transferred weight or turned. I previously blamed this on my footwear, the type of flooring, or my “lazy heel”. I set about to improve my focus, intention, and attention to stabilizing both feet before transferring weight or turning, and to observe changes over time.
My first observation was that anchoring the heel reduced my extension, and I could not move my body forward as far or as freely. There was a limitation on my movement. I had a stronger sensation of stretching in the leg tendons as I transferred weight forward. On the following days and weeks, I could feel a strong connection coming from the ground up, continuing to the top of my spine and to the tips of the fingers (or palm, wrist, fist, depending on the move). I enjoyed this sensation, especially during “whip to one side” and “parting wild horse’s mane”.
Next, I felt a sense of forces extending in opposite directions, recalling the expression that I believe was from Master Moy, “up/down same time”. I felt more grounded, yet at the same time more able to open and expand. As I continued to practice and observe my internal sensations, I noticed more feeling of coiling through the whole body. Whereas before I could feel the coiling through the arm, now I felt that it was coming from the ground through the whole body. Other parts of body, such as the Tiger’s mouth, felt more active and alive. Now, as I practice his teachings, I feel more stable and balanced, with smoother movement, as well as feeling calmer, less distracted and more balanced emotionally. During the movements, I feel a sense gratitude to my leaders in training and to the members of the Board of FLK for their direction, and a desire to pass on what I have learned to help others.
Reflecting on my observations, I feel that structure is needed in order to have elasticity. A stable base provides grounding in order to expand and to move forward with balance. I feel that over the past year or so, the regular sessions online, the chanting, the teachings, the sharing, and the encouragement to self-practice, have provided a supportive structure to my week. Though my “research project” was personal and started with a small objective, it seems to have had larger benefits than anticipated.
I am reminded to deal with difficulties by having a plan, focusing on positive changes, and engaging in future-oriented thinking for better health and well-being.