What do you think of when you are doing T’ai Chi Ch’uan?
During a recent phone call, someone said that a teacher had said that he thought of an opponent when he did the form.
Various teachers and texts suggest this, but I said that he was just giving a stock answer. You don’t want to be thinking of an opponent all the time.
Unless you are at a fairly high level, thinking of an opponent all the time could make it even more difficult to be calm, peaceful and centered.
And when you have already reached a high level, it is doubtful if you need to think of an opponent. You have already achieved the ability to be one with the opponent should he attack, so he is no longer out there but inside as you choose.
The idea behind thinking about the opponent is to emphasize the fact that the moves are all self-defense moves should be maintained during practice.
Of course, if the opponent does attack, the movements in the form are not necessarily going to be used in the convenient way that they are executed in a form.
So what do you think about? There is no limit. You can even not think.
You can put your mind into the instant and be there for as long as the form takes. This has the virtue of also taking your mind off yourself.
This kind of awareness can have the same intensity during push hands. Then you have to be fully relaxed and aware of yourself and your partner, without trying to think what he is going to do. If you are all there, he will tell you even without knowing he is telling you. And you will hear without thinking.