One common aspect that permeates all the different types of tai chi practice is to develop the mental capability to settle the mind, to be able to stay in the present moment and to cultivate awareness
– this is a fundamental prerequisite that enables the energetic, mental and spiritual development of tai chi to occur.
In tai chi this is simply referred to as stilling the mind, or finding stillness in motion – there are deeper implications and terminologies used for this process in taoist meditation, where this is the starting point for a deeper set of mental and spiritual practices.
There are also a number of similarities to the concept of ‘rigpa’ in many Tibetan dzogchen traditions – where rigpa is described as the awareness that allows you to see the true nature of the mind.
Pushing hands is a two person tai chi practice, which complements the individual practice of the tai chi form. When you practice the tai chi form, you are exploring how energy moves within your own body, but with pushing hands you have the benefit of understanding the interplay of your own energy with that of a partner.
At a superficial level, the objective of pushing hands is to attempt to affect your partner’s balance while simultaneously doing your best to prevent your own balance from being affected. At a more significant level, you are developing many aspects of your mind while understanding how energy and form relate to one another.
Some of the purposes of tai chi pushing hands include;
1. To maintain continuous contact with your partners arms/hands until one of you unbalances the other.
2. To learn to relax under pressure.
3. To neutralise a partners force and speed and use it to your advantage.
4. To be able to remain calm, centred and alert in the face of physical pressure or mental force.
5. To develop the ability to detect subtle movements, energy flows and changes in speed, direction and pressure.
6. To enable the mind to focus on the present moment and increase its awareness.