A Message to Beginners

There are a couple of things that helped me on my path of Tai Chi and I hope that they can help you too.

One thing that my teacher has always said to me is donít try and reach for the art, it will come to you through correct practise. Be patient.

Consistent practise seems to be the most important thing when considering how can I become "better" at Tai Chi. Everyone is different and seems to find a different time of the day to practise. For me early in the morning is best when the air is still and I havenít been "wound up" by the day yet. For others at the end of day is a great way to finish and prepare for a good nightís sleep. Many masters of our art say a couple of minuteís practise morning and night will bring benefit. When I first began I didnít have time to practise everything that we did in class so I didnít practise at all. It was only later that I realized that just a little each day makes all the difference. Itís funny but even only a little "moving meditation" just before starting the day seems to put things in a different light. So look for that idea of "a little, often".

Correct practise is also important so when you learn a new part of your form practise it as soon as you get home from class so you can get it "up there". Practise that part of your form over and over so then you can bring it into the rest of what you know. Through practise you will get the most out of your lessons.

Learning Tai Chi can be frustrating, thereís always the thought that "oh IĎm never going to get this!" Be sure that youíre not alone and every person you see doing a form beautifully is no better than you, they have simply practised more. We all get frustrated with ourselves when learning something new remember the idea when learning Tai Chi is to "surrender", to just relax, be patient with yourself and with time skill will come. It has been said of Tai Chi that if it hasnít taken time and practise to achieve that itís not Tai Chi.

One of the hardest things for me is to take criticism and hey, guess what? There is Tai Chi to help me with that as well. Our teachers are there to help us work with ideas of balance, good posture and good shape in our form. Any time they correct our movements it may help to remember that they are helping us do the form not criticizing us personally. It is hard but this idea helps with our humility. Many times the hardest thing about learning something new is giving up our old ideas and maybe admitting that we didnít have all the answers. These ideas of humility and coming to others with an "empty cup" help in life and can be learnt through the study of Tai Chi.

Try not to hold onto ideas too tightly. What I mean by this is that when we first come to Tai Chi we have certain ideas. As time goes by however, our ideas change so let them flow freely, let our mind be like the art itself, smooth & flowing, without breaks. Sometimes things wonít make complete sense when learning this art but again be patient. If you have questions during the week for your teacher write them down straight away so you donítí forget them.

Many students ask what books should I read about Tai Chi. That is something that your teacher can answer but when you first start if I had choice between reading and getting up and doing whatever I know so far. Iíd be doing, not reading.

Remember what we are learning is a way of movement, this takes time. There are many paradoxes in our art of being relaxed yet having good form. This all takes time and itís the learning of the art thatís so much part of the art itself. All by itself it forces us to become patient and makes us humble. These lessons arenít always the ones that we wish to learn but they are the ones that makes us better people.

Chris Connor



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