At his school, the Shr Jung in New York City, Professor Cheng Man-Ch’ing used to say that we Americans did not know how to relax. We were either tense, or collapsed. True relaxation is a state in between being tense and being collapsed, where you are in a state of aliveness, but it is not tense.
When you have achieved relaxation, you can feel the air as you do your form, and in Push Hands can stick to someone and not collapse onto him or pull away from him. You can root, but also soften and listen to the pushing energy that is being exerted on you.
You do not have to surrender to relax. You just need to surrender your muscle tension. As you begin this process, you may feel more tense than you felt before. That happens because you are focusing on relaxing and therefore becoming more aware of your tension. Relax, and you will eventually feel you are making progress, especially when you touch hands with someone who is not as far along as you.
Have faith in yourself, though you may feel you are losing ground in this, as you progress. Remember that someone who is not aware of his tension may be full of tension, just not aware of it. As you become aware of it and release it, you are becoming relaxed.
You will know you are succeeding when you can feel the air, and move very slowly and smoothly through it. Also, when you play Push Hands or touch another person, you will be able to feel them, and know where their tension is, as well as their weight distribution.
When you can do that, you have not only relaxed, but taken an important step to improving your Tai Chi form, Push Hands and self-defense.
In T’ai Chi,