Flow in Tai Chi 2

If you still don’t understand how Flow fits into the objective of mastering Tai Chi as mentioned in my first post I have laid out some explanations below using some of the pointers covered in Steven Kotler’s talk at Google.

1) To enter into the Flow state you must attain a state of no-mind. This can be achieved by practicing the Tai Chi long form in an accurate manner. “Accurate manner” can mean different things to different people but to me it means to practice in a precise manner that allows me to actualize the principles of the Tai Chi Classics.

2) When you are in a Flow state your sense of awareness is hyped up. This is true for the practice of Tai Chi because without this sense of awareness you will not be able to convert your state of intent to issue power using the models described in Grandmaster Wei Shuren’s book on the 22-form into reality.

3) Practicing the Tai Chi form in a state of Flow will dilate time. This is why without entering the Flow even a 1-hour practice session will seem very long. But once you are in the Flow a 4-hour continuous session will pass by quickly.

I know it is not easy to put in a 4-hour practice session. For many even a 2-hour session is a luxury but without finding a way to do so you will not achieve the desired state. Even then, you need to put in many X-hour sessions before you hit the stride and tip over into a state of Flow. In the meantime you will have to battle impatience, boredom, etc in your uphill climb to master Tai Chi.

4) Repetition, tons and tons of it, is important to get to the state to enter the Flow. As you practice your actions will become more refined, seamless, controlled; at this point you will start to notice certain patterns that once they make sense will trigger off exponential growth.

Even though I could write and describe what these patterns are reading about them won’t help you to master Tai Chi. You need to physically feel them.

5) When you learn Tai Chi using the tools of intention your brain will be swamped with information; many times, this is too much even for practitioners with doctorate degrees much less the ordinary Joe.

It will not get easier. The information will keep adding up. However, if you keep up with your practice the chunks of information will become clearer and you will no longer struggle mentally.

After a certain time the information will become part of you. You will use lesser and lesser effort to practice; no longer having to deal with the huge chunks of information not because they are no longer relevant or there but because your familiarity has reduced the information to smaller bite size.

At this stage you no longer have to do for example three movements to actualize a principle, you can merge the three movements into one movement. Your movements will take on flavors and characteristics that define the style you are learning.

6) When you can trigger off the principles using less intention this is when you begin to achieve the high level principle of “wu wo, wu wei” or what can be termed as the disappearance of self consciousness.

When you arrive here practice will feel pleasurable; your movements will flow effortlessly like a hot knife cutting through butter, your reaction will be swift, automated and magical recalling what Grandmaster Wei wrote about the mysterious manifesting itself. It is not magic but it is happening in a manner than does not seem possible to a normal level practitioner. When you understanding the principles it will be simply un-magic.

7) To enter the state of flow requires you to change. But as pointed out by Steven Kotler’s 7 out of 8 persons will not change their old habits even if they need to change due to a life threatening health problem.

If your life is threatened and you will not change what are the chances of you being willing to change your habits in order to master Tai Chi? Now you know why so few practitioners actually master Tai Chi.

8) To master Tai Chi through Flow we must be willing to fail time and again. However, we must first know the why and how of our failing.

I know it is difficult to separate the emotional part of ourselves from the intellectual side when learning Tai Chi. Without doing so we cannot accept criticism from others even when its evident that it is valid.Criticisms when its constructive is vital to our improvement.

Some parts of our Tai Chi journey will be difficult to go through, yet other parts will seem impossible. However, we should not despair because the art can be mastered. When in doubt go back to the fundamentals. Starting over is OK. Do it as many times as you need to until you get it. This is why my master said that Tai Chi is easy to learn but difficult to master.

10) Finally, you need to play the same Tai Chi form over and over again until you recognize what it is trying to tell you. When you reach this tipping point that’s when you start to achieve Flow.

After experiencing Flow you will probably lose it. If you keep at it you will find the Flow again. And you will lose it yet again. Again and again. Until one day when you find a way to instantly call it up when needed. If you cannot do so then your Tai Chi skills will be useless in an emergency situation.

Well, that’s it from me. Time to go and prepare for a Tai Chi lesson.


Want to learn Tai Chi in Singapore? At Singapore Yang Style Combat Tai Chi lessons covering forms, weaponry, push hands, fajing and applications are offered. Lessons are conducted in English. Send enquiry today at the link here.

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