In Today’s class, we reflected on whether TaiChi is meant to be a solo endeavor, or intended to be a group exercise.
True to the wisdom of TaiChi, the answer is both!
The dynamic of a group depends upon the dynamics of each individual.
A thriving group experience requires the individuals to each bring the best of their skills and knowledge to the collective.
When an orchestra prepares for the big performance, each player spends hours dedicating themselves to their individual task. The entire orchestra doesn’t convene, and nor should it, just because the 5th violin player is struggling with a meticulous passage.
The solitary efforts of the 5th violinist are the ground for breakthroughs which can be made worthwhile when the larger whole comes together. The individual can devote their solo-practice time to whatever they need without hindering the group, yet without the group’s effort, the individual effort may not have a platform for expression or application.
The lone violinist cannot truly play the symphony as an individual, and the orchestra cannot truly play the symphony if any individual is blundering.
The strength of the whole is dependent on the strength of the individuals.
TaiChi, as a Practice, is an opportunity to refine ourselves as individuals so that when we enter into collectives we inherently make them better. The greatest service we can do for the whole is to be a whole-individual. When the whole is optimal and healthy, it can accommodate many individuals.
When practicing solo, it is both for your personal benefit and the benefit of others. You cannot share what you don’t understand nor contribute what you do not have.
When practicing in a group, it is for the benefit of the group and for your own personal benefit. You can bring your enthusiasm and energy, but managing the needs and preferences of Others is an exercise which cannot occur in isolation.
The TaiChi Principle is most blatantly manifest as Self/Other. Without Others, or a collective, our understanding of “Self” or “me” is incomplete. Without a sound sense of “Self”, “me”, or “I”, then we cannot meaningfully relate to a group or a whole.
For TaiChi Practice to be complete, we will invariably need to experience and explore both the social and solitary conditions of our Humanity.