In the I-Ching, there are 64 lessons, or natural phases of being in harmony in life.
These 64 phases cycle. So once you are at 64, you return to 1.
The last two, After Completion and Before Completion bear great significance for me in my Tai Chi practice (and life).
Tai Chi is alluring in its fluid, slow movements and seeming ease. Transition and continuity are key. I can hear my Sifu saying, “non-stop, non-start” to my confusion as I tick tocked my way through the movements.
The I-Ching lesson in After Completion and Before Completion is in the fluidity between them, that actual completion isn’t a destination or an actual place. All is transitioning, ever beginning or never ending. There is no “there” to get to, only “here” and “here” is ever changing or beginning.
As we shift weight in our legs in Tai Chi we feel the ending of a level of weight in one leg and the beginning of a level of weight in another, like water waves rocking in a tube. As we move our waist allowing our arms to flow, the ending of one direction is the commencing of another.
“Find the gate,” is another phrase my Sifu would say as I struggled to flow between the climax of a forward shift and the initiating of a rear shift. It was like trying to roll like a cotton ball, rather than bounce like a ping pong ball.
And she couldn’t teach me that.
I had to keep practicing.
I had to keep feeling.
And I had to keep believing there was that level of soft transition possible.
Belief, I came to learn, is a part of this journey, this practice.
For I have to believe it’s possible, and that requires a degree of faith and hope so that I keep trying.
And that, is a beginning, not an ending.