The Meditation Center
By Frank Simons
In this lecture we will examine the principle of lian guan, which we can roughly translate as “flow.” The six principles of synergy and flow are: slow down, relax, sink down, be natural/neutral, be continuous, and balance yin and yang. Achieving harmony and balance in your life is a goal of tai chi, and according to tai chi philosophy, lian guan is an essential element of balance.
Essentials of Tai Chi and Qigong, Part 19, “Mental and Physical Flow”
Thu, Oct 6, 5:30pm
Callejón Blanco 4
Free, donations accepted
When water moves, it is healthy and clean, but when it becomes stagnant, it can turn into an incubator for disease and decay. This is how we think of qi in the body. Flow, in its most basic sense, is movement—movement that is continuous, harmonious, and synergistic. We make the effort to model this principle in our dance of T’ai chi. The comment made most often about T’ai chi players is, “Their movements are so flowing.” Lian guan also guides thoughts, emotions, and sense of vitality. Mental flow is as important as the physical. Flow comes from synergy, the principle that says the whole can be greater than the sum of its parts.
The first principle of Flow: Slow Down, asks us to pay attention. Moving slowly in T’ai chi allows us to observe everything we’re doing, seeing our actions, choices, decisions, and ourselves with clarity. We notice if our actions align with our intentions, discover if we really know what our intentions are. This is the principle of being in the moment. Trying to operate in a non-real time frame of past or future is one of the major sources of tension, stress, and anxiety. In moving slowly through the forms, we open up, and reinforce, new neuromuscular pathways. When we slow down, we get time to see whether our thoughts, feelings, and perceptions are really leading to the results we want in life. The principle of slowing down doesn’t mean to live at a snail’s pace. It is a metaphor for being in the moment. Synergy is lost when you are not in the moment and gained when you learn to be in the moment.
Synergy is lost when you are not consistent in your choices. If your behavior changes whenever a whim strikes you, or when things get difficult, you have lost the alignment between your values and your actions. You have cut yourself off from the most fundamental and unique power that human beings possess, the free will. You strengthen the will power by practicing the principle of Sink Down. This second key to synergy is to be committed to pushing the envelope and playing full out in life. The third key to synergy is to let go, with structure. The fourth key to synergy is to find the natural ebb and flow that alternates between yin and yang in your life and follow it in every transition in life. The fifth key to synergy is to find your center and move from your original, natural, neutral center. The sixth key to synergy is to practice timing and coordination, whether it’s the timing of the movements of your body or the coordination of the relationships and events in your life.
David-Dorian Ross, the founder and CEO of Taijifit, leads the course. He has a BA in Human Movement Studies from San Francisco State University and has trained in China with championship martial arts coaches. Mr. Ross is the host of the PBS series T’ai Chi: Health and Happiness and the author of five books on health and wellness, including Exercising the Soul.
There will be an opportunity for discussion following the video.
Presentations of the Center are offered without charge. Donations are gratefully accepted.