Mind, the constant principle in the activity of Tai Chi Chuan, is concerned with the conduct of the body both for the body´s sake, and for its own superior development. Not only is Tai Chi Chuan a “from the mind” exercise but it is “with and for the mind” technique. In acting “with” the mind,a state of awareness brings both attention to and appreciation of what is experienced continually. “For” the mind indicates that it is possible to improve one´s faculties and to attain a high level of consciousness and perception. The Method becomes more refined, subtle, profound and practical as mind directs the body to function with increasing perfection, physically and mentally.
Mind is always multiply engaged: it observes and reacts; responds and directs; evaluates and leads; it initiates and experiences. At the same time, it serves itself in the process, augmenting tits own potential powers- never remaining at the same level of ability. This is the mind of the Meaning.
Although mind seems to move from place to place as if it were not doing anything, it functions with clearly directed energy. Ever-present attention is the prevailing element which prevents the body from acting mechanically and automatically. Even in the most ordinary of everyday movements, as in walking, the mind must be present, alert for any contingency- evaluating the situation and redirecting action when necessary. Were mind not present, however faintly, at all times- unforeseen occurrences could not be taken care of successfully. When mind is trained to be alive to outer circumstances in relation to the self, the measure of timed reaction between mind and body is infinitesimal.
At every step of the way this exceedingly complex structure, the mind prepares the continuous way by adhering to the immediate, the now of the situation, Mind, being one and with the moment, sense the future with the aid of the memory – coordinating sensations, distinguishing and combining them. When mind falters and misses the present moment, it misses the most significant space-time connection flowing into the “future”.
Mind does not function on a one-track road, which would limit “vision” and understanding of the possibility of mind´s own further development. Mind sees, knows, and manipulates a multitudes of facts at once. Just as the eyes when focused on a centered dot can see everything within the periphery of its vision, so the mind perceives not one “item” but the entire range of the specifically coordinated ingredients of action and thought. Mind functions with the related and coherent activities of the instant- from the nuance of dynamics to the interlinear movements, all at the instant of the coordination of the relevant component parts. Mind can comprehend the quality of the “stillness” and progression of action and the power of its own presence.
The unique, composite nature of the composition channels the mind and compels it to remain awake and ready to act with speed. It is the nature of the structured exercises not to permit mind to abandon the body – to sacrifice it for its own fantasies.