This blog post was originally published as a podcast in June 2009. I’m slowly transcribing all of my podcasts, to share them with my readers who either cannot play podcasts on their computer, or who simply prefer reading instead of listening.

After having no class on Thursday and on Saturday, it was really nice to get back to teaching tonight. I’m really going to miss teaching every week over the summer. One of the reasons I’m going to miss it is I find that working in a group (even though I’ve got a decade now of T’ai Chi, and the students I’m teaching are just completing the end of their third year of T’ai Chi) is that the group discussion can still help me find and understand points that had passed me by beforehand.

An important one came up tonight that I want to share with everybody.

We were talking about daily practice and how people were getting on with that and how the people in my Beginners’ group [my Thursday night class – Ed] were getting on with that. A couple of the ladies tonight mentioned that when they practice, they sometimes forget to do certain sections, but that it’s a different section each time. The point I wanted to emphasis to them, and what I want to share with everybody else, is the difference between what my Improvers are experiencing when they miss out pieces of the form from time to time compared to my Beginners, who find that they hit a wall and stop.

With the Beginners, they practice the form until they get to a point where they don’t know what to do, and they get stuck. They get stuck because they don’t know that part of the form, and they stop. They are unable to continue and unable to complete the form because they don’t know it well enough to play it on their own yet. The difference with the Improvers is they do know the form the whole way through, and on any given day they’re able to play so much of it, but they miss bits out. Not because they don’t know the form, or they don’t know the sequence of the form or the individual moves, but they miss bits out because they’re now working at the next level, which is their attention and their mindfulness, and they miss bits out because their concentration isn’t yet at the level where they can practice for 15 to 20 minutes and keep the form in mind the whole time.

And that is an important difference: they know the form, and are now working on the next level, which is their mindfulness and being there for the whole time they are playing the form.