Sagely Advice From the Wandering Taoist
Focus On Principle
By Chase Acuff
Let’s see if I can conjure up
some sagelyness. Conjure, conjure; ah! Yes. Okay, let’s talk
about focusing on principle. We’ll use the tool of
taiji in this case to help us better follow this concept,
however, any good tool would do.
When I do my Taiji in the
morning, I’ve found rather than multitasking, I get more
mileage out of picking just one of Taiji’s principles
and taking it for a test drive in one of my forms. Usually, I
practice the Yang Style 108-Long Form, some Chen Style, and
Taiji Sword and Staff.
There are so many
things one could concentrate on while doing form. I prioritize
and pick out a few top priorities to focus on over a few
months. Then I work on only one thing at a time, such as
breathing. Dan Tian Breathing is the main principle I am
focusing on right now. There are a number of aspects of
breathing so I prioritize and pick out a few of greater
importance. Some days I just breathe naturally, using my lower
abdomen. Other days, when I feel especially clear and grounded
I look at a few of the principles of breathing, listed below,
at the same time. But I do advise to keep it simple, no matter
what it is.
Now, how have I been playing
with breathing the past few months? First I focus on starting
the breath at the dan tian. I imagine softly vacuuming in
breath and energy as I inhale, then exhale out from the dan
tian. Too often we tend to start our breath in the middle of
the chest and exhale from the chest, instead of the dan tian.
Chest breathing limits the power of the qi and can also keep
us off-balance because our qi will be too high.
Next I focus on breathing out
stagnant qi. To me, this stagnant qi feels like a heavy, slow,
ponderous, thick qi. I feel for it collectively in the body
and try to keep remembering to breathe it out, helping to open
the body’s energy channels. Healthy qi has an uplifting,
light, flexible feeling while still having substantiality. I
want to get rid of the stagnant qi so I can feel the healthy
This is plenty to think about
while doing your taiji. I actually outlined four principles
within the one principle of dan tian breathing:
1) Start the breath at
your lower abdomen, inhaling to the dan tian.
2) Exhale the breath from
the dan tian.
3) Feel for stagnant qi.
4) Use your mind
intention and breath to gently guide out any stagnant qi.
Here’s the rest of my list of
"Things to Embody Regarding Breathing", the things I’ll be
working on next:
- Intentionally pause
after each inhalation, and again after each exhalation.
- Slow my form down and
breathe one full inhalation and/or exhalation for each
- Look for full qi flow
throughout my body, with each breath and each movement.
Does just as much qi get drawn up through the legs as down
through the head in "Parting Wild Horse’s Mane"? What
about "Cloud Hands"?
- Use reverse breathing in
- Increase qi flow more
So, to sum up before I wander
on my merry way, focus on one principle and keep it simple.
The part of you who wishes to keep things simple is your true
self. The part of you who wishes to complicate things is your
ego. Greater happiness comes through following the true
Dao Dancer Chase Acuff –
Alaska’s Wandering Taoist