Imagine you’re practicing in a pool
One of the big challenges for beginners is to let their center of gravity lead the movements, instead of focusing on arms and hands. Like a strong tree, you want to start from the roots, not from the branches and leaves.
Visualizing standing in a pool, with water up to your mid chest, helps to draw a student’s mind to the center of her body. If you want to move in a pool, you have to move against the resistance of water. You have to push your waist first, before doing anything fancy with your arms.
Focus on your Qi Hai (氣海) point when pushing and moving forward, focus on your Ming Men (命門) point when pulling and moving back.
Let the waves help with your motion
Once your body has started moving in the pool, you will create motion, momentum and flow in the water. Now visualize how that momentum and flow picks up your arms and your hands and moves them along.
Rather than initiating movements on their own, your arms and hands are propelled by the motion and momentum that’s initiated by your center of gravity. They get pulled in by the momentum you create and merely follow the flow of energy.
Change from Yin to Yang
If you keep visualizing the movement in the water, you will also feel how you have to overcome and reverse the momentum in the water as you shift from forward to backward movement.
When you move forward, you create forward motion in the water. Before you can move backwards, you have to overcome and reverse that motion. You have to take in the wave and gently turn it backwards. And then you reverse the process again as you shift back to moving forward.
We’re stirring the water, or the flow of energy, without interruption, shifting between fluid states.
Visualization is a powerful technique to develop a ‘feeling’ for the moves. Use it!