“Ten thousand times and much more slowly.” These are the words of my qigong and T’ai chi teacher. It is often the intent of exercise in our culture to work quickly, working up a sweat, getting the heart rate to speed up, to push oneself through pain until one is totally out of breath.
Both Qigong and T’ai chi work differently. My teacher continually urges us all to slow down in the movements which actually produces a near meditative state, very ethereal, otherworldly. It almost feels like one is doing the exercises underwater. This also encourages the demonstration of more control, more precision, and intention in the movements. Moving quickly I can mask many errors. Moving slowly inspires more specific accuracy and mastery. Yet with the precision comes room for your body’s natural movement to interpret the poses and choreography. The qigong needs to become yours. Not everyone’s looks the same.
The exercises are endlessly fascinating, with much to tweak and refine. Never having felt very graceful, these movements are a kind of ballet for me and I am totally given to their beauty and poise. There is a confidence and elegance in working toward mastering these specific sequences of movements, as well as a charm that feels quite sacred and definitely invigorating.
Mastering the requisite discipline to practice everyday is a challenge in that my day seems already so fully circumscribed with the responsibilities of work and family. But if I am to reach ten thousand times to perfect the movements, I need to redouble (perhaps retriple is more accurate) my efforts. On the ride home from class I figured just doing the exercises once a day would take almost 28 years to perfect.
Perhaps just focusing on the journey is enough.