by Jaleen Ho
我本身有心率毛病，脊椎问题。练太极拳之前， 心率都在100以上。 记得我就因为这搞到呼吸困难，手脚麻痹而进医院但都查不出原因。 初练太极拳时必须穿戴一个特别的手表监控我的心率。做热身运动时，心率都超过150。。除了心率问题，我的颈椎和腰椎也容易移位, 是个名副其实容易受伤的女人。去过中央医院找心脏专科做了不同的检查也徒劳无功。至于骨科专家却建议我动颈椎手术。但我决定找中医师调，还有勤练太极拳。
练了十二年， 感觉这些毛病都改善了。寻找资料， 从中明白练太极拳原来对我们的内脏可以起到保护功效，也对脊椎相关引起的百余种疾病起到很好的疗效。它还能提高免疫功能，增强体质。所以我一直坚持练太极拳也坚信练拳可以强身健体，最终开通筋络，调和气血。最近更发现我的O形脚大大改善了。这也证明太极拳锻炼也可以增强肌肉，减少关节和肌腱的压力间接改善了骨骼结构。
练太极拳不只是动动手和脚或是模仿老师跟着打。太极拳是需要品出来的。它有很多不同的锻炼，除了外在的锻炼，站桩功也是另一不可缺少的太极拳修炼基础。今天我的焦点就放在站桩功。 站桩功是要练松静，练气。但很多练拳者认为站桩枯燥无味，看起来太简单也轻视它的重要性。 他们以为练拳架/推手就可以练好太极拳了。其实站桩功是太极拳内练能力的基本功，慢慢体会和领悟。练习怎么使大脑松弛下来，从而把身体的每个关节都放松。体会到松静， 练功就会得到更好效果。渐渐的，站桩功增强我对太极拳的整体认识也明白为何太极拳也被称为活桩。
体会到站桩的松沉， 沉到脚底会觉得有股热量渐渐从脚底到身体慢慢环绕。这要配合骨架放顺，正和松。 有一天当我练站桩时我突然感觉关节好像花朵盛开， 这可能就是关节/筋络被开通。这让我明白松沉不是故意降低重心把脚/胯压。 很多习拳者这样做，促使关节容易受伤害。所以我建议大家要练站桩去体会松沉，如没有桩功基础，开始进入走架时，就容易出现不必要紧绷。把松沉带进走架，那么走架就是沉着和自然而不是漂浮或紧绷。
每个人的体会不同， 我开始感觉好像有蚂蚁/蜘蛛网似的在身上，也会感觉有股热气在脚底，曾经也感觉麻痹而脚黏在地上，不能拔起。渐渐的明白意念不可以被气带着走，而是要怎么加强与用意念控制并带气走，走架时，也就懂得怎么用意带气。这股热气从脚底往上， 好像有人放个熨斗在我旁， 热气慢慢随着走架的意念，配合呼吸被运到身体，手终究到手指。这只有通过慢练才能体会。
Taiji Quan and Zhan Zhuang (Static Meditation)
by Jaleen Ho
I have problems of heart palpitations and spine degeneration. It affected my daily life as my palpitations was always above 100. I still remember I became breathless and my limbs were numb and I was hospitalised twice because of this as but no results were found. I also consulted heart specialist at GH and went through some tests but there was still no diagnosis. I have to wear a special watch with chest belt to monitor my pulse rate as it usually shoots up to 150 when I do the warmup exercises. As for my cervical spine, I was advised by bone specialist at GH to undergo operation. I rejected and decided to turn to TCM Ortho for treatment and alignments because I get misalignments easily.
Besides TCM treatment, my 12 years of practising Taiji quan has improved my problems tremendously. This is something that I did not expect and I also found out that Taiji quan also improved my bow legs. These lead to my perseverance in Taiji quan's practice after researching and understanding that it is beneficial to our organs and spinal related diseases and countless health benefits.
A practitioner must understand that Taiji Quan is not a physical exercise of moving hands and legs or imitating the teacher's action...it is not a series of unconnected components but one seamless flow from intention to a single action performed by the whole body. The practice is centred on the forms which involve alignment, integration, coordination, unity and all movements done without tension (tension obstructs flow of qi) combined with breathing and meditation. I continued practice adhering to certain theories of movement, intention, meditation and particular breathing and can feel qi being generated and circulated throughout body. This has rewarded me with a more solid and stable lower body, stronger muscles, tendons and ligaments. The internal organs of the body are also strengthened as a result of improved qi and blood circulation and thus saving on medical fees.
There are many different components in Taiji quan practice and I like to focus and talk about Static Meditation (Zhan Zhuang) today. Many practitioners neglect the importance of static meditation (Zhan Zhuang), thinking it's easy and boring cause it's just standing there like a pole, without realising that it is critical for the practitioner to understand the internal aspects of Taiji quan.
Many practitioners misunderstand that they will be able to master Taiji quan with just learning the strokes of the whole form or some tuishou practices. To me, static meditation is another major component in Taiji quan practice. It enable the practitioner to achieve a deeper level of relaxation, calmness and qi generation. When one relaxes, one should still has awareness of body alignment and the interaction of body with earth. When one's posture is correct and able to relax the mind and body, one can feel weight sinking down to feet and connected to earth, which is rooting. It is different from pressing feet hard against the ground. If one does not has the foundation of Zhan Zhuang and understand the way to relax and sink to get rooted, one's Taiji form will be floating or vice versa pressing hard to sink and become tense and injuries might occur.
Practising and understanding Taiji quan is no easy task. One should be courageous and not afraid to make mistakes, ask questions and persevere to practise with essence in order to reap its health benefits. To me practising Taiji quan is to harmonise body, mind and spirit. It is an art for self-cultivation and I wish that all Taiji practitioners will be able to achieve that.