Taiji and forms solo practice is sometimes called shadowboxing – fighting an imaginary opponent or your own shadow. It’s how we develop ourselves, learn how to move, and engage qi through the movements.
But the fight with an imaginary opponent is only the outward appearance – a ghost. It’s the internal work within ourselves that’s important.
What internal work? What does that mean?
We all have our own ghosts – personal events, fears, abilities, wants – that can disturb us, disrupt practice and make it more difficult to “quiet the mind” and seek stillness. Thoughts creep in about what happened 3 years ago. The desire to become someone we may never be — our ideal self — may seem too far out of reach.
These ghosts only become stronger the more you fight them. Fighting against anything is feeding it; taking your energy, your qi and giving it to that which you want to defeat; that which you want to be gone. It’s a battle that can’t be won, especially not if you are fighting yourself. The more you try to forget, the stronger the memories return. The more you try to focus, the stronger the distractions become. It is an unending cycle. Yes, you will become stronger through the fight. You can develop skills to keep what you don’t want at bay, to manage the distractions and to even make progress in eliminating some of them. So instead of being distracted 10 times, you are only distracted 2 times.
The ghosts remain.
Stop fighting them. Embrace them. They are your ghosts. They belong with you. They won’t leave. As you begin to accept this, they will interfere less and less.
This is one aspect, one part of the principle of “Dragon and Tiger Join Together.”