The heart of the hurricane of life, the sweet spot from which all can be surveyed, all can be reviewed, assessed, accepted. Understanding reigns upon those dwelling in the Supreme Ultimate. Bit difficult to stay there at all times. Yin yang. If we don’t experience off centre how do we know we’re on centre, centred, staying centred?
Have you noticed the bark on the trees? Rough, deep ridged on one, smooth to touch on the other and if you could study, feel all the trees their bark would reveal all the nodules of Braille in between.
Have you noticed the joy of the blade of grass growing, one amongst millions the wind and the rain and the sunshine, the temperature suggesting that the time is now.
The water flows from the mountaintop its journey to the ocean an amorphous stream flowing forever downward drawn by the siren song of gravity any barriers overcome. Fluidity taking it over, under, round wearing things down, yielding to all travails on its journey, the soft overcoming the hard.
Have you ever tried to relax, the intention creating tension the frustration of the mind and body seemingly unable to let go, and the mind games, watch the thoughts don’t attach, don’t feed the habitual responses to life leading you down the aversion pathways. That distracting thought, that thing to do, the should, the ought, the must, breaking focus and the familiar shape of that move in the Form slips into another, similar but a chunk has been missed. Not that it matters.
And yet the realisation of moves not undertaken breaks you out of the moment. The self-admonishment not called for driving a wedge between the flow and the physical manipulation of the body and limbs, unguarded intervention yet any guarding creating tension. Riding shotgun on intruding interventions brings tension when attempting to focus on letting go, relaxing and so around the never ending circle of coming back to centre where touching the void, without touching, feet rooted in the earth, head connected to heaven, (the Chinese one, no religious connotation intended) sensing without sensing, being without effort is such a joy, a fleeting joy a moment to cherish a moment to add to a collection of moments expanding, timeless without stretching, without involvement as if you were nothing, no one and yet all seeing all knowing, humility releasing ego without a battle with that slave driver. Its there, acknowledge it, accept it let it go.
Return to sender. Elvis almost had it right. Centre. Physicality? Mind? Both? Spirit? Soul? All of those? Where to achieve it? Do you achieve it? Working, working, working, trying, trying, trying within the daily grind, maybe within the space of weekends and holidays, maybe within the space between wakefulness and sleep, sleep and wakefulness?
Lift the head top, raise the spirit, relax the shoulders, lift the breast bone three millimetres that assists the coccyx in curling under, soft knees, parallel feet, feel the ground, rooted. Breathing techniques, the macrocosmic orbit, the microcosmic orbit, the mind leading the chi, inviting it with kindness and compassion to follow. The imagination creating the visualisation leading to the feeling, the sense of the energy flowing like water releasing tensions, useful in healing, to be used carefully in its martial aspect. Techniques to engender the feeling, the sense of centre.
The centre is a natural state; the trees, the grass, the water, fauna and flora of all kinds have a natural repose. They are aware. For animals dangers abound and yet they can relax without trying. Babies and young children have natural repose which most forget as the weights of the world are accepted as normal, hung on their growing frames, seeping unheralded into their absorbent minds and taken on usually without them being aware of that burden and that burden increasing over time.
Relaxing and returning to centre becomes more and more difficult as attempts to achieve a natural repose creates tension as trying replaces knowing.
In the swirl of the 24/7 culture forgetting is inevitable. Remembering is sensible but is a choice that cannot be imposed. Imposition creates tension and tension opens space between centre, where you want to be and where you are. Stress builds as a result of the gap between where you are and where you would prefer to be. Returning to centre without pushing the river negates stress, obviates tension and provides the facility for natural repose.
Staying centred is desirable in all walks of life; some would say essential especially in high-pressure environments. To come to centre we need to be aware of the bark on the trees, the veins within the blades of grass, the oily rainbow sheen on the puddles filling dips and depressions of the roads and pavements of inner cities, the seagull dancing on the wing riding the waves that chase each other to shore, the connection between finger and keyboard and the image created on the screen, awareness of where we are not only within the stylised parameters of the Form but in our day to day. Here. Now. Centred.
Right. Centred. Stance, good, posture, good, limbs, reelaxed, body, reeelaxed, all good except…physically we think we’re all go and yet, and yet…energy, is that flowing without hindrance? The complete relaxation of the physical body completed? The root established. The mind in tune, the spirit lifted, we’ve covered that. And yet you are still vulnerable to the pure Tai Chi power.
The point of all that practice was to store energy created through total relaxation within then by utilising the opponents energy using no more than the sense of four ounces to release your energy, to bounce them off centre, make them take a step, show them that you not them have the knowledge to feel, sense, intuit the correct time to release, after they’ve thought about it and yet before they’ve let go. Yet, it’s you who are moved off centre, have to take a step back are bounced away.
Why? Tension. The mind and body have not released, are still holding on engendering and susceptible to an unknown deep seated disquiet that another, whether in push hands, knowingly or in work, rest, play can inadvertently break the cord restraining the hidden inner suffering that has not been dealt with and like cutting through a pre-tensioned reinforcing bar in a concrete member the pent up energy releases without control moving you off centre.