The fingers are antennae, each collecting energetic messages of a different frequency.
Born of simple needs.


Breath anchored in dantien.
Prayer is a far more intelligent and healthy response to the future than anxiety.
Good posture elevates the mind, encouraging it to become weightless (empty), conscious and free (of self).


A mistake that many students of Taiji make is to assume permanently the dreaded Taiji slump: an over hollow chest, over rounded shoulders, a distended belly, and a head that cranes forwards into one's personal space and out of vertical alignment with the heart and dantien. It stems from a masturbatory obsession with one's own feelings and energy, and a neglect of what the Dao De Jing calls virtue. It is the Taiji equivalent, though opposite, of the puffed up chest and pulled back shoulders of proud Yoga practitioners: an ostentatious display at best. The Taiji Classics say to keep to a yielding mind, but yielding is not a state but a fleeting change of state designed to softly connect to an incoming energy that would not have imposed itself had you been yielding before it arrived. And if the world stops imposing itself – stops making demands – then boredom and depression ensue. Verticality of posture is one's connexion with Heaven and Earth without which everything in life is out of balance and so liable to corruption.


Taiji is the art of returning energy, not as technique but as matter of course.


If you're not careful expertise becomes a particularly ugly form of avoidance.
The false mind, the one that thinks, is in the head. The true mind, the one that loves, is in the heart. Suffering is what prevails when we choose the false over the true. And this is why it is not possible to think one's way out of suffering. The only way out of suffering and into truth is through compassion, through the heart.


One of the problems of Taiji, especially Yang style Taiji, is collapse in the upper spine. This will tend to happen when the practitioner forgets that spirit should be the driving force for practice, and not habit or duty. Spirit – life force – is the energy that prevents Yin and Yang fusing into a grey and bland monoculture. Without spirit Internal and External will become mere reflections of each other instead of the complimentary opposites they are meant to be. The Taiji Classics are adamant on this: Outside soft like a beautiful woman, inside like a tiger ready to pounce. The outside always disguises the inside. So the form of Taiji is slow and soft and relaxed and sunk but the inside is quick and hard and tense and rising. What you see is not what you get. Nature loves to hide. Trickery and subtlety are built in to the natural process.


Develop the breathing not simply as oxygenator but as energetic pump.
Keep the gates closed and the heart open, otherwise life is liable to dribble away on trivial pursuits, of which Taiji could very well be the chief offender.
Beware of teachers who purposefully withhold fundamental aspects of the teaching in order to keep you hanging on. Such behaviour borders on the evil.


"The interpreter deploys his mastery of the instrument to achieve a virtuosity consisting in producing sounds in such a way that he himself disappears and all that remains is sound in space."


In our struggle to maintain a mental grip on the world we try our utmost to keep the head still. Then the world is simply what we sense rather than what we are a part of. Hardly surprising then that the ego – the capitalist inside us – sees the world as a source of profit rather than as something to belong to. One way out of this is to relax the neck and let the head and the senses swim, as though ever adrift.
Most of us become so resentful we end up resenting life itself. Why else do we choose to be unhappy when, with a subtle change of heart, we could be brimming with joy?


Taijiquan was developed as a martial art many centuries ago. In all likelihood it was practised by vigorous young men who worked as farmers, that is, by men already physically strong with good fiery spirits. These men would have been taught relaxation and turning so that their strong bodies could borrow and return energy. Hours and hours of pushing hands would have taught them to listen and stick to their opponent, and hence yield/attack was born (can't have one without the other). Nowadays, Taiji is practised by middle class office workers: well educated, well meaning folk with weak slack bodies and slumbering spirits, full of neurotic tension and overactive minds. Such students require a different approach to those of old: focused meditation to quieten the mind, vigorous labor to strengthen the body, and some form of fighting to tone and hone the spirit. Otherwise Taiji has no authenticity, no heart, and the wrong sort of mind.
Settle in for the long haul.
An ascetic life is one devoted to under rather than over consumption.
Dantien is a position of strength.

Weakness is loss of centre.

True feelings are those felt whilst centred, whilst strong.

False (self-generated) feelings are those felt because you've drifted off centre, off course.

False feelings, never to be indulged, are useful only if taken as cue to recentre.
Only by reducing the self will the world – whatever the ego chooses to see – similarly shrink, and reality become apparent.


The trouble with all spiritual work is that it is far easier to get it wrong than it is to get it right. And, in a sense, it could always be better. But, c'est la vie, it is what it is, and part of the work is accepting that and just learning to plod on, for the hell of it if not for the joy of it.
The reason we get it wrong is ignorance: choosing to live in darkness. And it is a choice, a cowardly one, one that chooses comfort over pain, habit over change, the known over the unknown, suffering over joy.
Despite the barrage of messages we receive daily from the Dao – admonitions to wake up – calls to arms – we still prefer to hide behind an ego (our personal affront to Nature) in the astonishingly stupid belief that ignorance is bliss.
The only way out of ignorance is to receive the light of holiness. Such light first intoxicates and then terrifies because it illuminates those parts of myself that I choose to keep in darkness: it clearly shows the immensity of the task ahead.
The light of holiness shines from those rare and rarified individuals whose minds are totally focused on their path to God. This is the most precious form of grace, capable of redirecting and inspiring a whole life.
Life is invested with meaning by acquiring a toolbox of principles and concepts for living. And be aware that all tools that are used regularly eventually wear out and will need to be replaced.
We already know all there is to know. We just choose to pile a heap of shit on it. Spiritual work is always negative – subtractive.
The reason great martial artists often end their lives in depression and decline is that fighting spirit, despite its purity and delight, is still ego: spirit in the service of self. For life to acquire meaning beyond ego the spirit must serve the Other. The only great martial artist I know of who achieved this was Chi Chiang-Dao, who famously gave up Taijiquan and devoted himself to Jesus for the final twenty years of his life.


The head offers a critical vantage from which to observe the world and then commentate upon it: ceaseless chatter, endless anxiety, and so depression. The dantien, on the other hand, is a quiet place from which I can simply be. The only thing that keeps me in the head is an arrogant and neurotic desire to be something other than I am. The work, on a psychological level, is about rooting out this desire for inauthenticity, because, as we know only too well, when I try to be something more I end up becoming something far less.
Barefoot. Or at least very thin and soft non-insulating soles. Taiji is about reawakening a connexion with Mother Earth – her physical, emotional, energetic and spiritual support – and the feet need to be as expressive and motile as the hands: kneading and working the ground.


Freedom is understanding. In particular understanding the imminence and immanence of failure. Reducing ego to its natural uninflated state.


Whatever it is I'm working on at the moment, I have to be aware that there will come a time, in the not too distant future, when I'll need to work on the opposite. And so, too and fro. This is the principle of tempering: heating, quenching; heating, quenching; etc. The quenching should be sudden, almost violent.


Ever since I can remember I have had a nagging suspicion that there is far more to life than being a successful law-abiding member of the middle-class. Taiji, with its radically alternative take on life's principles, gave me a positive way out of what would have been, for me, a suffocating conformity.
Consider a pond, perfectly calm and still. The smallest particle falls into it causing a barely perceptible ripple. If that pond were in any way turbulent or agitated, from within or from above, then that ripple would be lost to the noise. The mind is like this pond: space filled with a medium that flows, and that, when quiet in itself, shows the traces of divine activity. So we have a choice: we either fill that mind with our own furniture – our thoughts and feelings – or we endeavour to empty that mind so that it can become conducive to God.


if the light of the sun
is focused through a lens
it will burn
giving off smoke
leaving a dark
mark of intention
sunlight on wood

Instead of suffering feelings, create them. Get a grip. Grab the knot of the dantien with all your might and squeeze. This is intention. It is the supremely active life: sitting, alone and still, with a spirit that burns fierce in its refusal to be victimised by the ego. This is also compassion because it frees your energy for giving.


...a smile arcing across some divine collarbone...

Freedom: DADA DADA DADA, a roaring of tense colors, and interlacing of opposites and of all contradictions, grotesques, inconsistencies:
Perhaps the most energetically charged environment we find ourselves in, on the day to day, is the shower. So get into the habit of bending your legs whilst showering in order to connect with the energy.
The three basic instructions of Taiji:
  • Mind in dantien
  • Sink and relax
  • Turn the waist.
The first centres and makes me an object.
The second connects me to the world of energy by acknowledging the Earth: makes me subject.
The third makes me delight in play.
Together they remake me, if not in God's image then at least in a better one than the norm.
Truth is whatever inspires.
"It is possible to perform contrary actions together while taking one fresh gulp of air."


An intelligence solely in the service of the Other.


"You learn more from failure than success, right?"


"To sing is to remember."
Relax, come back to the body, and forget the mind as anything other than an attendant to feeling, which becomes the body: trembling with sensitivity and understanding. I am then primed for life.
The work is about shaping and sharpening the spirit, so that, at death, it can pierce its way home. The motions we go through, the life we make, are little more than vanity, and ultimately, whilst they may make the man, they do little to prepare us for the next stage. It is how we bear our suffering that matters.


Meditation teaches patience: a sinking into the texture of time.


"Don't smoke too much or the highs disappear."
Love the ground: the way you sink into it, rise up from it; its assurance and generosity; its strength and gentleness; and make a promise to return, sooner rather than later: subsumed.
"Beauty will be CONVULSIVE or will not be at all"


Normal behaviour, especially social behaviour, seems to be all about withdrawing the spirit and foregrounding the ego, hence the tiresome clash of opinions that most exchanges seem to boil down to. In Taiji we endeavour to reverse this approach: withdraw the self so that spirit can engage the other. Then each activity, each meeting of the moment, becomes not only energetic and energising, but also instructional and transformative. Ultimately it is the only way to learn, and so to become a better soul.
hjerte ånd sjel


If there is one word that encapsulates the mood of a warrior, it is, for me, the word impeccable. It literally means without sin or without sinning. Sin, it can be argued, boils down to profligacy, prodigality, wasting energy, and since potential is also energetic, an opportunity squandered also counts as wasteful. We can extend this argument and say that to allow myself to be without available spirit is also wanton because without spirit I can never be immediate or creative enough to make the most of what life presents. This is why the fundamental instruction in Taiji is Mind In Dantien – it doesn't just keep me focused and concentrated, it wakes my spirit up and makes it keen.
In align with the fundamental law of Taiji – what we call Central Equilibrium – spirit is only projected outward when the mirror of spirit penetrates deep into my core and being. That mirror or root is my ruthless sobriety: an anchor without which my spirit will quickly flail and flounder.
observe a constant tenor
without clamour or rumour
"the old pedagogical maxim that a subject is learned best when it is presented six different times in six different ways"


"I remain stormy in my paradise."
We exist in at least two realities: a physical world of objects (things) and movements (energies), and an emotional world of feelings, yearnings, intuitions. Our physical centre is the dantien and if we want a meaningful engagement with our own body and the physical world beyond it, then this centre – our centre of gravity – must be strong: focused and still. Our emotional centre is the heart and if we want a life enriched by feeling and the creative imagination then this centre must be open, clear and above all soft. These centres are the two poles of our work: the yin and the yang, and the trick is, through an act of spirit, to have them interdependent rather than mutually exclusive: each flourishing because of, rather than despite, the other.