Master Jou’s 3 Taoist Rules for Making Progress in Tai Chi (or anything else for that matter!)

Master Jou Tsung Hwa standing by bamboo at Tai Chi FarmMaster Jou taught mentioned three Taoist rules of success that helped him develop an incredible life, despite having survived a brutal war and experiencing the resulting deaths of family and friends. He lost everything he had in his homeland China in World War II. He had to reinvent his life as he fled to Taiwan. There, he flourished again, but became gravely ill. Taking up tai chi saved his life and continued to strengthen him thereon. His dedication to tai chi was rewarded with a peaceful mind and a body rivaling the vim and vigor of men in their 20s. While others continued to age as their bodies subsequently deteriorated, Master Jou’s students remained stunned to see him get better and better each year.

Here’s his “secret” mental recipe:

Feel free to watch the video, or if you prefer, just continue reading the rest of the text below.

1) Know yourself.

Deeply. This requires intense introspection and possibly painful honesty (painful to the ego-mind, that is). Know your strengths and weaknesses. Know your good sides and bad sides. What motivates you? What distracts you? How can you use this to “trick” yourself into positive action and results? Do you even really truly know what you are doing? Or WHY you are doing it?  Honestly? Do you even know “who” you are? Get to know all of your wonderful and not so wonderful facets. Celebrate what works for you, and temper & train the parts of you that hold you back.  You can do it!

2) Do your best but don’t overdo it.

When you want to make progress in an area of your life, you must do your best. Allowing yourself to get distracted and slacking off will just waste your qi energy (life force). Anything worth doing is worth doing well – so even when you are relaxing, getting a massage, or on vacation – do your best to truly be one with it. Soak up and appreciate it. Be in the present. But avoid extremes. If you do your best, there is no blame. So even if your growth is not where you want it to be at that moment, don’t punish yourself. Don’t overdo it. Especially in tai chi: while doing nothing is a waste, you know what? So is overdoing it. And sometimes you can’t tell until you’ve been at it while.

If you’re in pain the next day, “know yourself” first. Did you go out of structure while practicing the day before? Did you do the techniques incorrectly? These little things can make a big difference. Scale back a little next time. Forget what your classmates can do – if you need a break during class, then take it! But again, be careful that you don’t let a break turn into “quitting energy.”  It’s sometimes a fine line to walk between the extremes of yin and yang. The greatest gift you can give yourself is the training to lead you to becoming enlightened about the balance of yin and yang. It’s the cornerstone of the wisdom of the Taoist arts.

3) Each time, make a little progress.

Notice that Master Jou wisely stated a “little” progress. Don’t worry about “hitting it big” all the time. It’s too much pressure. Simply ask yourself: “What can I do now, or today, to evolve just a little more?” This mindset attracts an incredible energy to your life. It eliminates boredom and stagnation. It clears obstacles. It shines the rays of health and happiness into your world. It is a mindset that leads to attracting and manifesting magnificent conditions into your life.

I’d also like to add, to all three of these maxims, approach them with a mindset of appreciation. I watched my teacher do this in everything he did, though he was very quiet about it. If you listened closely, though, you’d often here him talk about what he appreciated. Even if someone or something did him wrong, he would still try to find the good memories, or the lesson learned from the situation. Then he just let it go.  He also knew how to find joy and appreciation in the little things – a pretty spring flower he chanced upon, something funny that animals were doing, a nice lunch…

These are the kind of words spoken by sages. At first impression, these 3 maxims seem too simple. Only the wise can comprehend their depth. And if you seriously apply them, you will be guaranteed remarkable results in your life. Just give it a chance and you’ll see.

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