Did you watch the half time show during the Super Bowl? Visual and auditory stimulation from start to finish at who knows how many beats per second. Rapid fire stimulation is the ethos of the modern, techno age. You can see it in the movies, too. It seems like the message of many modern movies is how many special effects can the creators cram into each minute. Faster, faster, faster, more, more, more!
Faster, faster, more, more, shows up at most modern workplaces. Squeeze more out of the employees. “Do more with less!” Next day delivery isn’t good enough. Now we aspire to two hour delivery. Close of business is an obsolete concept as business becomes 24/7. Mobiles keep us connected and always on call.
Can you imagine what the constant stimulation and ever-increasing pressure for speed does to your body? You can measure what it does to your heart rate and blood pressure, but the effect on your body chemistry and the work your brain has to do to process the constant stimulation are not easily measured unless you are wired up in a medical center.
I can see this effect creeping into Taiji classes. The other day while leading the barehand form, I noticed that one student was three moves ahead of my commands. And this was a student doing Taiji to reduce stress. I might be wrong, but I think I notice that students working IT jobs are especially prone to speed up their form and their sensing hands practice. I keep saying, “slow down.”
You know that there are three speeds for Taiji form practice–slow, medium, and fast. Those who want to acquire martial arts ability should practice fast form in addition to the slow and medium, but most students aren’t that committed to learning martial skills. This means that for most of us, we should be practicing at medium and slow speeds. (Medium speed is 18-23 minutes; slow speed is as slow as you can go while still coordinating with breathing. That’s for the traditional Yang long form 108.)
Practicing Taiji you step back from the modern world and slow down. Let’s keep it that way.