About six years ago I began to study tai chi. When I began, I had already been studying karate for several years, but my instructor encouraged me to add tai chi to enhance my martial arts abilities even further. It seemed interesting to me from the very beginning, but I was totally unprepared for what I have received. What I have learned is far beyond anything I ever expected.
Tai chi is a martial art that takes you through a series of very slow movements. You have probably seen people do it on TV commercials to advertise arthritis medicine. It seems rather strange and exotic for people who have never been around it. And because it is so slow and easy going, it seems like it would be very easy to do. But I assure you, it is actually a very powerful and practical form of exercise.
When I first started practicing these moves it was quite awkward. It is amazing the amount of strength and balance it takes. But as I practiced over the next several months and years, I began to notice a number of things begin to happen in my body. I began to develop greater leg strength. My balance improved. I gained better posture. I began to be able to control and conserve energy. I gained more powerful breath support and control. I also saw my ability to concentrate become stronger.
If you did a deep examination of tai-chi training, these things should really be expected because of the nature of the exercise. But there is one other thing that has happened in my experience that, even to this day, I continue to marvel about. No matter how far I seem to progress, there seems to be further to go. I make a major advance and think I am mastering the art and, behold, a whole new level unfolds before me. This has happened so many times that I have come to believe that there is no limit to the amount of progress I can make. As I have discussed this with my instructor, he has assured me that this is so.
Now, this is a significant realization, and is particularly helpful with an activity like tai-chi, where the movements are so slow. In our fast-paced society, slow is very difficult. In fact, many people who start tai-chi don’t end up staying with the discipline very long because activity and progress seem so slow.
But, there is a much broader application that needs to be recognized that has very profound implications for every area of life. No matter where you are in your life, no matter what activity you engage in, no matter how much of an expert you are, you have only taken baby steps compared to where it is possible to go. But, don’t be fooled by this statement. It is easy to accept this as an intuitive intellectual understanding. It only becomes profound when it is discovered in the course of experience.
Consider this. There are four areas of your life where your humanity is expressed. The four areas are the emotions, body, brain activity, and spirit. And the profound truth is this: in each of the four areas it is possible to literally explode beyond where you are now to ever higher and higher levels of development.
You can develop control over your emotions so that you are always positive and upbeat. You can overcome depression and negativity. You can put yourself in the appropriate emotional state for any situation you find yourself in.
You can develop control over your body. You can provide it with the nutrients, rest and exercise that will keep it healthy. You can sculpt your muscles so that you look good.
You can learn to control your brain function. You can gain greater and greater ability to absorb content, to think quickly, to shift your outlook, to concentrate, to control your focus and your perspective. These are all amazing abilities and anyone can become better at them.
Finally, you can develop control over your spirit. You can become more and more skilled at self-awareness, creativity, communication, decision making, analysis, contemplation, imagination, and self-discipline.
The sad thing, though, is very few people ever move on a life path that causes them to continually develop in all four areas all the time. The average person will work on one area then another, in fits and starts, but very few are focused on developing all four all the time.
So this brings us to a final, and profound, question which will determine what you do with the rest of your life. How much further do you plan to progress in your life beyond where you currently are? Your answer will determine the extent to which you are able to live life to the fullest. There is more to gain beyond where you currently are. In fact, the potential is unlimited. But, you will determine your reality. There is more and more and more and more.