Taiji Experience

By Cynthia McMullen
Originally posted 1999

taiji experienceI stand: feet together, back straight, head up, shoulders, hips and knees relaxed, arms at my sides. With eyes closed I breathe: soft, slow, full and deep, feeling the energy gather at my lower dan tian, the center just below the navel. Inhale, long and slow, gathering energy. Exhale, long and slow, releasing the energy to fill every inch of my body, feeling the Qi tingle and swirl all the way to my fingertips and toes. My mind is focused internally, feeling the center of my being, noticing how my body feels. Do I have tension anywhere? If so I release it, letting it flow down into the ground, guided by my breath. Am I relaxed? Yes. Do I feel the energy flowing freely around myself? Now I do. Inside I’m ready, so I begin.

Eyes gently open and I allow my internal focus to permeate all of my senses. My eyes see, but don’t linger or grasp at anything. My ears hear, but the sound is general, unfixed. My touch is more attuned to the energy flow than to the ground beneath me or the air around me. It doesn’t matter what my surroundings are, I’m standing here and breathing. From this perspective, I am the center of the Universe.

Inhale long and slow, exhale and my breath moves me, easing weight onto one leg, raising my elbows, remaining centered, relaxing into the movement. The flow has started and my breath will maintain it. All I have to do is breathe and my body knows the rhythm, the course of the movements as they follow each other – the movements I studied so passionately to learn. It’s as if I’m being blown by a gentle breeze, the kind that you see caressing the grass as it moves along, releasing the scent of nearby flowers as it passes through. This is what nature feels like.

I am my center. All motion comes from my center. My body feels strong and alive, as if merged into the Earth like a tree, sharing the energy of the Earth. My mind is focused and clear, so in tune to the moment I’m in. And as I progress through the form, I sense that I am so very still, even as I turn…. yet I see motion all around me. Unfocused motion brought to it’s extreme by the awareness of my still and silent center.

The form ends and I bow to the Universe, thanking it for dancing with me.