“The search for meaning is not always about the answer. It is the process of seeking that also enlightens.” – Demerzel in “Foundation – The Television Series” based on the books by Isaac Asimov
For most people, their Tai Chi or Qigong journey commences because of a desire to improve their physical and/or mental health. At this stage they know little more other than the raft of health benefits, or they saw an ad for classes and thought it might be fun, or they heard of a friend who had started doing it, or they saw something on television about it, or the class was walking distance from home, or their healthcare provider recommended it, or they saw people in the park doing it. Very few people think there is anything more than it being a slow-moving form of exercise.
So, a Beginner will commence a class believing that their search for physical and/or mental health has been answered and in some ways it has. But the question is greater, and the journey of discovery in Tai Chi and Qigong is what truly leads to a better physical, mental and psychological sense of self and wellbeing.
The “seeking” in these arts is not something that can be learned, and it can’t be fast-tracked. It’s a process or what some call a “Journey”. If someone wishes to seek then they will usually follow a similar path to all those who have gone before. Some go “off-piste”, or “leap over a step” but the road is a well-worn one recognised by professionals worldwide:
1. Learn and remember the basic movements of a barehand routine
2. Become more proficient at the routine
3. Learn more routines including weapons
4. Explore other styles of Tai Chi
5. Enter Competitions
6. Teach others
7. Stop Learning new routines
8. Quest for greater understanding
9. Realise how little you know
Every step of this journey gives you more than you could ever imagine. It can be exhilarating and humbling; give you the patience and strength you never thought you had; teach you to see, feel and be aware of things you never knew existed; provide you with the courage to share your failures and your successes; instil in you a sense of purpose and self-respect; but most important of all, every minute of every day you won’t be able to imagine your world without it.
This process of seeking more in your Tai Chi or Qigong can be helped enormously if you have a fantastic “guide” to help you on your journey. If you can find the right teacher they will assist you and lead you in the right direction. So, look for someone who has travelled some of the road themselves, and try to avoid someone who talks too much about all their travels as they are clearly a “tourist” and not a “traveller”. A good teacher will help you understand the signposts you will encounter, will teach you how to navigate the journey, will support you when you think the road is too difficult, and encourage you to go on despite yourself, but they can’t and won’t do it for you. Anyone who says “follow me and I’ll show you enlightenment” is someone to be avoided at all costs.
No matter what, the process of seeking, is not science fiction, and you will be forever grateful to the person or persons who encouraged you to look for more than just the “answer”.