An occasional brief hiatus from form practice can sometimes be a good thing – a cognitive and somatic reset that brings refreshed perspective and appreciation when you re-engage. Last March, for me, marked the fortieth year I’ve been seriously practicing taijiquan. My form and I have been through a lot together – through thick and thin, as it were. It’s always better to maintain a steady, consistent, daily practice. That’s the ideal. But sometimes life intervenes. For whatever reason, one may occasionally hit a stretch of a few days, maybe more, when you don’t practice. Maybe it has become boring or stale; it seems rote or too easy. Or perhaps your form seems disordered, and you can’t find the flow or the sweet spot, so you become discouraged. I’ve experienced these things, but always when I resume practice, things begin snapping into place, and I have a renewed appreciation for my practice.
Some things to try may help to refresh your perspective:
Try practicing in your mind. Go through the form in your mind; see how far you can go before your mind begins to wander, or you lose the thread. Mental practice can enhance your somatic practice.
Experiment with different speeds in doing your form. Try doing your form at a dramatically slower pace, observing closely the interaction of weight shifts with the turning transformations in your torso, legs, and arms. Or, alternatively, see how quickly you can do your form without it being perfunctory or disordered.
Try some standing practice prior to doing your form – either holding the pipa posture on either side for several minutes, or simply extending the time you stand in wuji posture before commencing the moving form. This can dramatically change your perspective, as well as the somatic feedback you experience as you move through the form.
When you do resume form practice, and for that matter, whenever you do your form, listen to what your body is telling you. It may sound facile, but something I learned long ago is that doing taijiquan, more than anything else, almost always clarifies for me where I am physically and emotionally, and can soothe feelings of conflict or uncertainty. Even if I’ve been cranky, or sad, or whatever, I usually have a better understanding of why after form practice than I did before.