In Tai Chi Chuan there is stillness in movement, and movement in stillness. For example, in the pattern Nebula Revolving Round (also known as Cloud Hands), you keep your mind still while performing the movement of the technique. On the other hand, when you stand still in meditation in the pattern Cosmos One Energy (Similar to the Wuji Stance), your form is still but your energy is flowing.
Movement and stillness are not separate — they are integrated, and they mutually act and react without any break in between. The movement of your form and the stillness of your mind, and vice versa are integrated. It is not that first you move your form, then you still your mind.
Stillness and movement are symbolic. They do not just refer to stillness and movement. They refer to two opposite yet complimentary aspects of reality, expressed as yin-yang harmony. For example, you do not first train your energy, then cultivate your spirit, or first cultivate your spirit, then train your energy. You do them simultaneously. When you train your energy, at the same time you also cultivate you spirit, and vice versa.
Health, Self Defense, and Daily Life
You do not practice Tai Chi Chuan for health first, and then practice Tai Chi Chuan for self defense. Or worse, you do not injure yourself first by practicing Tai Chi Chuan for self defense, and then attempt to overcome your injury by practicing Tai Chi Chuan for health. No, you practice Tai Chi Chuan for health and self defense simultaneously.
Only when you have attained yin-yang harmony — not only in your Tai Chi Chuan training but also in your daily life — can it be said that you have been successful in your Tai Chi Chuan practice.
Spirit and Energy
In the practice of Tai Chi Chuan, internally cultivate your spirit, and externally train your energy. When you practice zhan zhuang (or stance training) for example, the external form will help you to build your energy, and the internal stillness will enable you to cultivate your spirit. When you practice a Tai Chi Chuan set, the external form will help you to build energy, and your not thinking of any thoughts will enable you to cultivate your spirit.
In your daily life, while you plan a marketing program, for example, letting your thoughts flow will nourish your spirit. Your being physically relaxed in your external form will build up energy. When you are engaged in any physical activities, being focused will nourish your spirit, and letting your flowing energy instead of tensed muscles doing the work will train your energy.
Before you make any physical movement in your form, you must have intention. Intention leads form. When you want to execute a particular pattern, for example, focus your mind and have a gentle thought of the pattern. If you are well trained, your mind will direct your energy flow, which in turn will move the form of the pattern.
In your daily life, if you want to go up a flight of stairs, for example, gently focus your mind and have a gentle thought of going up the stairs. Your energy flow will move you up the stairs without you having to tense any muscles, resulting in you accomplishing the task without feeling tired and without panting for breath.
What is intention? It is the agent of your spirit. Obviously, when your spirit is strong, like when your mind is fresh and clear of thoughts, your intention will be strong, and you will have a good result in whatever you do. Reversely, if your spirit is weak, like when you are distracted by many thoughts, your intention will be weak and you may have no purpose in whatever you are doing. The result will not be satisfactory.