Tai Chi Teacher and sometimes writer
Can tai chi bring us a mind-state of utter peace and oneness, wholeness, and ease? Can tai chi give us moments where we're like my granddaughter Isla, at 3-months, so complete and untroubled?
But before a tai chi participant can reach a state of "empty mind" or utter concentration, the form must be learned.
And during the learning time, the intellect is alive and very active. Some of us hear an inner voice instructing us: move the right hand up, put the right toe down, remember to turn to the front of the room, etc. That is completely natural during the learning process.
Some of us also hear an inner voice saying: you're not doing that right, don't step that way, what's wrong with you that you keep forgetting to turn your hands in on this movement. If we are so self-critical, that can be a problem--so we need to try and be very easy on ourselves and always remind ourselves that "perfection" is not the goal.
But once the tai chi movements have been learned, then the meditative aspects become available. You may experience this as a sense of "empty-mindedness"--a focused awareness of what you're doing, but without self-talk and mind pictures. Or you may experience a deep sense of connectedness--all parts of the self integrated and that selfless self moving in concert with the space around you. For each person it is somewhat different, but it can be a wonderful and powerful part of your tai chi.
Seated, feet flat on the floor, hands resting on thighs or knees, breathe slowly and deeply. Let go of any thoughts that come into your mind. Just sit and breathe deeply, letting your belly expand as you inhale and deflate as you exhale. That's all you have to do! As someone once put it: "Don't just do something, sit there."
Various systems of standing meditation exist--"standing post" is a well-known one. Stand with the feet shoulder width apart, knees soft, joints relaxed. Hold arms in front of you, as if holding a big beach ball in front of your chest. Breathe slowly and deeply. If thoughts enter your mind, just let them go. All you have to do is stand there and breathe and let your mind be open but not "thinking" about anything. You are in the present moment, aware of your body, the air around you, and that's it......