Every Taiji form has a closing move (收势 shōushì), and it’s common to just think of it as the last move, or, often in reality, the ‘non-move’ that closes the form. However, a few days ago, as my wife and I were leaving our taiji group, she mentioned something that caused me to view the shōushì with renewed interest. She said that previously, after doing the closing, one or both knees felt ‘stuck,’ with a slight ache. But this time, while performing the closing move, she concentrated on ‘sinking the qi,’ by doing the move slowly and very consciously, relaxing the chest, sinking the shoulders, and relaxing the lower back, all the while feeling the energy ‘sinking’ through the body and into the ground. Done in this way, she told me, there was absolutely none of the ‘stuck’, aching feeling in the knees.
This is a lesson, perhaps, in the truth that there is nothing unimportant in the taiji form. Everything is there for a reason. Every detail has been carefully honed through reflection and experience. It’s also a confirmation of the often-encountered council that in taiji, the form itself will teach you how to do it, if you just ‘listen’ carefully. This is most obviously true of breathing. Yes, you can deliberately inhale through the yin movements and exhale through the yang movements, but many practitioners (myself included) find that by practicing the form correctly, the deep yinyang breathing will happen by itself, naturally. The movements will induce it. The form will teach. We just need to be good enough ‘listeners.’