In the line from left sole to right palm, the weak link is the leap from hip to sacrum across the pelvis. This is the place we tend to close off, largely because we are conditioned from childhood to have a negative attitude towards the functions and organs of procreation and excretion. This area then becomes the secret repository of all our hangups, repressions and insecurities. Relaxing in taiji, once superficial tensions and anxieties have been dealt with, is largely working to open up the pelvic area – allowing it to expand to its full width with the weight of the torso. Once this area is sorted the shoulders and neck will magically release. On an emotional and psychological level it's a matter of learning to love yourself for who you are rather than who you'd rather be.
I broke from my teacher in 2007 not because I disagreed in any way with him, but because I knew I needed space to better hear the teaching. There were things I needed to learn that he could not teach me, there were parts of myself I needed to face that his presence would always shield me from. To find the earth and the heart one must leave the hearth.
Bad (negative) tension is a tightness inside a thing – a fearful holding on – a fear of letting go – of releasing. Good (positive) tension is always between things – a play between complementary opposites – the bind of relationship that threatens to break or release and thereby transforms. The energy that holds together the relaxing – the creative – machine.
"[Destiny] is a feeling you have that you know something about yourself nobody else does – the picture you have in your mind of what you're about will come true. It's a kind of a thing you kinda have to keep to yourself cos it's a fragile feeling and if you put it out there somebody'd kill it, so it's best to keep that all inside…"
In taiji we work hard to develop a root – a strong and stable connexion with the ground – not in order to be formidable or indomitable, but in order to have the simple confidence to admit the destabilizing and eroding presence of the void, the unknowable, the unconscious – of death – into our being. And these are our two concerns in taiji: Earth and Spirit, or Gravity and Grace, the only things we all, unquestionably, have in common. The work is to strip myself bare of anything uncommon so that everything I/we have is shared.
It matters little how intelligent or talented I am, how rich my daddy is, what race or class I was born into. If I consider, even for a moment, that any of these are a substitute for hard grafting work then they amount to a curse, and I would be far better off without them. What matters is how much dignity I command and how deep I am prepared to go.
Unconditionality, in its totality, evokes death, not just as possibility or a preparedness, but as presence. It is a feeling we perhaps only experience with our children – we love them so much that we would, without question or hesitation, die for them. This experience then tempers the spirit, sobers the mind, and enriches the life, simply by preparing us for – forcing us to face, if only obliquely – death. The aim of our work – of yielding – is to bring the touch of unconditionality to everything, especially to listening. Listening from the void, which I am willing to swallow me up, rather than from a particular standpoint that the Other, in all likelihood, does not share. Yielding as total acceptance. Not allowing myself the time to chose.