As we develop a practice of TCC, a key sign of progress is experienced in how one feels about the difference TCC makes in his life and the lives he touches. Experiencing a range of benefits impacting aspects of character (mental, physical, emotional and spiritual), you will sense when you are "making progress". You will feel it in your TCC practice, but more importantly, you will feel it in your life. Comfort and Competency
- Feeling comfortable in your movement and feeling benefit are signs of progress. Regardless of skill level, when practicing TCC one should execute the movements as well as they are capable, as they understand they should be executed.
Competency of execution, which is different from comfort, is important if you want to develop your practice so you may teach others formally as an accredited teacher. Competency is something teachers work on continuously. Working with an accredited teacher will help to you to refine your movements as you learn more about TCC. Beyond the feelings of comfort and competency, other signs of progress sometimes discussed relating to TCC are covered briefly below.
Learning how to move
- Initially, we want to learn how to move in TCC practice, moving without tension, moving at a consistent pace and energy level. After 25 years of practice, I am still learning.
When I seek to move with softness, I am moving slowly and without tension of body or mind. The expression "flowing from the center" means moving with softness from our center of gravity and energy. Using this form of movement, we progress to working with the mechanics of the movement, where to look, to step, to move legs, arms, hands, fingers, etc. As we feel more comfortable with the movements we become more aware of the effects.
TCC doing TCC
- At some point in your practice, and this may be months from when you start, you may begin to sense that you are no longer "doing" T’ai Chi Chih®, but that the energy, the Chi, seems to move you as opposed to you physically executing movements. As you refine your practice and allow yourself to go deeper into TCC, you may experience this exhilarating feeling. Accept, embrace, and enjoy it. The feeling may be very strong some times, and you may find yourself laughing out loud from the experience. Don’t pursue this, don’t even expect it, but welcome it when it comes.
- Many teachers and students evidence the flow of energy or Chi through their bodies as a tingling in the fingers and toes. Some may experience a fluttering of the fingers while practicing TCC. Not everyone who derives benefit from practicing TCC will experience this spontaneous fluttering in the fingers. If you do, great! This experience is not something to pursue, to purposely generate, to try to stop or accentuate if experienced. If your fingers never flutter, don’t worry. Just keep doing the movements and follow the principles of movement, posture, and breath used in TCC.Practicing mentally
- Enjoying your TCC practice without physically executing the movements indicates a strong familiarity with the practice. It can be beneficial, especially during times of infirmity. At some point in your learning TCC, you could try this and see if you find it beneficial. Given a choice, do not let this become your primary form of practice. The physical movement as well as the relaxing of the mind are key to the practice of T’ai Chi Chih®.