In the Western minded thinking, we are taught from an early age that trying harder reaps better results. We grow up with such adages as "Do your best," "Try hard," "Assert yourself," "Put your best foot forward," and hundreds more. These sentiments train us to believe we are in control.
We are not.
When we attempt to change matter with matter; circumstances with effort, we exert a lot of primary energy. Primary energy, or effort-full-ness, is not efficient and many times, not even effective. As counter-intuitive as it may seem, by trying harder, we often are getting in the way of ourselves. We are operating under the false assumption that we are in control and that being effortful is equal to being successful.
The counter productivity of exerting effort is acutely obvious in Tai Chi. The more we try, the more elusive Qi becomes, the more uncomfortable our forms and movements are and the less flow we feel. With effort we create tension and stiffness.
By trying, we lose. We lose power, we lose energy, we lose enjoyment of movement.
In contrast, the more we are able to let go and allow our own God-given structure (our skeleton, ligaments, tendons and fascia) and natural movements to take hold and flow, the more enjoyable our Tai Chi becomes. When we allow gravity and our skeletal system and a quiet mind to do the work instead of our own "selves," the more power and Qi we generate.
This essence is not a process of trying harder, rather it is a process of letting go. Letting go of our need to control. Letting go of our muscles, our mind...our ego.
Watch this video to learn some visualization tricks and tips to assist with letting go, and in turn, gaining more power and more enjoyment in your Tai Chi.