The beginning class was filled beyond its maximum capacity and enrolled students seemed to have more experience with, and interest in, meditation, chi flow, and the like. That makes teaching easier for me because students are open and responsive to the hidden (or not-so-hidden) potentials of activating, balancing, and circulating the Chi. To the beginners I said: I can't convince you of the healing powers and benefits of T'ai Chi Chih; you need to practice to experience the cumulative benefits of this moving meditation for yourself.
This morning's class practice began late due to the winter-like (shock!) weather conditions. I traveled 40 mph to class and the three students who arrived were 10 to 20 minutes late. It was tense driving and I could feel the tension during the first portion of our practice. Eventually it faded away as our minds and bodies relaxed and became more attuned to each other.
During our post-practice discussion of Buddha's Brain, Chapter 12, "Blissful Concentration," I asked students to articulate how T'ai Chi Chih practice helps us strengthen our attention when considering the five key factors that Buddhism teaches for steadying the mind (p. 193):
Applied attention--initial directing of attention to an object, such as the beginning of the breathYes. Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes. T'ai Chi Chih moving meditation helps us to experience all of these aspects of mindfulness and, as the authors of Buddha's Brain assert, With practice, concentration naturally deepens for most people (Lutz, Slager, et al. 2008). (p. 193)
Sustained attention--staying focused on the object of attention, such as remaining aware of an entire inhalation from beginning to end
Rapture--intense interest in the object; sometimes experienced as a rush of blissful sensations
Joy--gladdening of the heart that includes happiness, contentment, and tranquility
Singleness of mind--unification of awareness in which everything is experienced as a whole; few thoughts; equanimity; a strong sense of being present
I was particularly struck by the fact that the fourth item mentioned in this list was "joy" since Justin Stone named this form: T'ai Chi Chih Joy Thru Movement. When I see the smiling faces of my students at the end of each practice, I know without a doubt that this moving meditation has traveled beyond the mind, through the body, and into the heart....