Tai Chi – Why So Slow?

If you’ve never seen Tai Chi performed you’ve really missed something. Dozens, or even hundreds, of people performing as one. The tensions of life are transformed into a kind of submerged concerto, the turning and twisting all in perfect synchronization. Softly limbs raise and lower as though to a silent musical score which connects all the players. The music only exists because they are moving together, a string section playng the wind.

Of course the dynamics of all this is far more complex than just wandering around. Experience has shown us a hundred reasons for each motion. But the first and foremost thing people watching Tai Chi are struck by is the slowness of the movement. How can it be exercise? And why so slow? they ask.

And that question makes us think about speed itself. Let’s pose the same query to other professionals and teachers:

Why does it take so long to create a great wine?

Why do I play so slowly when I practice a musical instrument?

Why can’t I hurry up and learn about love, and family, and myself?

Why so slow?

And really the answer is obvious, isn’t it? Slow happens whenever we want to go deep. Slow is deep. After all, I wouldn’t want a quickie massage, or a hurried dinner with best friends, or my vacation cut short.
Of course, we have to speed things up, all the time. The pace of our lives is rarely completely within our grasp. But we shouldnt take what we have to do for what we’d like to do. Personally I feel most like myself when I slow everything down, sit with a steaming cup of tea, watch the shadows changing in the afternoon.

That’s what Tai Chi tries to engender in us. A sense of treating our own bodies as we would treat the most valuable heirloom in our house. As we would treat something precious we own.

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