So I was rolling along this afternoon in my Tai Chi class as we were doing the Yang Long Form, feeling good that I was in the flow, having left behind the garden chores and civic activism emailing that had occupied me for most of the day previously.
"I'm really in the moment," I thought to myself.
At which point, unsurprisingly, I left the physical reality of the Long Form moment and entered a mental moment where I was praising myself for being in the moment. The effect wasn't horrible. Barely noticeable to others, in fact.
Instead of doing the next movement in the lengthy form, which I know well, I jumped into a movement from another similar form.
Noticing almost immediately that I had departed from the school of fish feeling where everybody in the class is in sync, moving in harmony, I quickly adjusted. Later in the form, though, pretty much the same thing happened again.
Tai Chi often is called "meditation in motion."
I've done a lot of meditating not-in-motion. For thirty-five years, every morning I sat quietly in a darkened small room or closet for an hour or two, repeating a mantra for a while, then doing nothing except being aware of what was within my consciousness when I wasn't doing anything.
Or at least, not much of anything.
It's easy to fool yourself when you're within your own mind. There's no external guideposts to gauge where you are, or what exactly is happening. You can think, "I'm communing with the Holy Spirit," and who will argue with you?
Likely not yourself, since you're pleased with your supposed spiritual experiencing. This is one reason I enjoy Tai Chi and other movement arts, such as ballroom dancing, so much. It's much more difficult to fool yourself.
Sure, I can imagine that I'm a better Tai Chi practitioner or dancer than I really am.
But then... there's the mirrors.
And the sight of other people doing the same form or dance, but looking better doing it. Plus, of course, the glitches such as what happened to me today -- the physical missteps or stumbles which are difficult to ignore, or interpret as some sort of positive progress.
I still enjoy my quiet morning meditation time, which now lasts only 20 minutes or so. However, I feel like I learn more about myself and how my mind works when I'm out and about doing something outwardly physical rather than inwardly mental.
No fooling. That's a big benefit of "moving meditation," which can be experienced in many ways.