Remember the Feeling, not the Explanation

In our last class we focused on pushing from the Qi Hai (氣海) and Ming Men (命門) points. It was an exercise to draw students attention to their lower bodies and to initiating all movement from there, instead of overthinking the arms.

After class, when I asked everyone how the exercise worked for them, one of my students said “that felt different”. I wanted to hug her at that moment. Instead I went on explaining that this is exactly what we want to achieve.

Very often we get too busy trying to remember and follow the explanations. We need to memorize all the details in our conscious mind and then try to recreate the mechanics and choreography every single time. It’s a daunting task and extremely hard to do for our logical brain.

Remember the feeling

There’s actually another part of our brain that’s much better suited for such tasks: the subconscious brain.

2017-06-04 Tai Chi in the Park 002

Instead of trying to memorize the choreography of complex movements, rather remember how it ‘felt’. Let you body experiment with the movements and when it feels right (or different), remember that feeling. In subsequent repetitions, try to rediscover that feeling, not the prescribed details of the movement.

Move the complexity to coordinate your limbs to the subconscious brain and the body. That’s what both have been perfected for through thousands of years. The logical brain is a much newer invention and should rather focus on awareness (zanshin, 残心) and mindfulness to what we’re doing. Let your mind observe and follow what you body and subconscious brain have learned to do instead of trying to micromanage them.

Focus on the feeling, not the explanation! Try to rediscover the feeling instead of trying to execute against a complex set of mechanical directions.

Every heard of the term ‘muscle memory’?  😉


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