Recently I took on a new group of students, who told me about one of their previous tai chi instructors.... they had apparently been sitting down doing visualisations as the main part of the session. Visualisations in the sense of eyes closed while being verbally guided to take a mind walk through various scenery.

I was absolutely gobsmacked by this - I  can't think of anything more opposite to tai chi. I was of course polite and kind about this, while just skimming over it quickly to go on with training them as usual, all of us having fun together while learning... but it set me thinking how to explain why it gobsmacked me so:

Tai chi is about connecting the body and mind in the present moment. To achieve this you start by doing whatever little movement, while concentrating on the part of the body doing the movement. This gets you out of the mind being something that drags the body around with it and into becoming aware of feeling your body parts, a little at a time.

Together with mindfulness training - the meditative aspect of tai chi as learnt through practising chi kung (qigong) - which helps focus you into living in the present moment, practising tai chi really helps ground you in reality, in feeling your body, in taking you away from fantasies. I enjoy a good fantasy book myself (or indeed several thousand such books), but fantasy is in no way tai chi.

At beginner level, all this feeling whichever body part is doing whatever is essential, for training up your tai chi movements and has the added benefit of getting your mind out of the constant chitter chatter of thoughts. It also means you start to see an emotional feeling as just a feeling, not be ruled by whatever feeling fights its way to the surface, so you gradually become a calmer, more focused person, as your tai chi learning progresses.

One aim of all this is to put your body and mind in harmony with each other - not in an airy-fairy fantasy way, but in your experience of everyday reality, giving you time to enjoy each moment, to really live those moments, not just to rush through them on your way to wherever.

So, do spend your time focusing on whatever is really going on, with feeling your body parts, with your movements, with the environment you're in, with the people you're with - live your life!  Savour it and enjoy it to its full!  Be in the moment!