In just about every workshop Master Jou taught, he 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:
1) Know yourself.
Not superficially, but 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 know what you are doing? Do you even know “who” you are? Get to know all of your wonderful and icky components. Celebrate what works for you, and temper & train the parts of you that hold you back.
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 life energy (“qi”). Anything worth doing is worth doing well. And even when you are relaxing, getting a massage, or on vacation – then do your best to truly be one with it. To soak up and appreciate it. To 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? Did you do the techniques incorrectly? And then… scale back a little next time. Forget what your classmates do – if you need a break during class, then take it! But again, be careful that you don’t let a break turn into slacking off or quitting energy. It’s often a fine line to walk between yin and yang (extremes). The greatest gift you can give yourself is the experience and training to let you become enlightened about that fine balance of yin and yang. It’s the cornerstone of wisdom in the old Eastern arts.
3) Each time, make a little progress.
Notice that Master Jou wisely stated a “little” progress. You don’t need to worry about hitting it big each time. That’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 all forms of stagnation. It clears obstacles. It shines the rays of hope, health and happiness into your world. It is a mindset that leads to attracting and manifesting glorious conditions in your physical and mental experience.
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. Yet, if you listened closely, 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 to be learned from the situation. Then he just let it go.
These are the type of words spoken by sages. At first impression, these three maxims seem too simple. Only the wise can realize their depth. And if you seriously apply them, you will be guaranteed remarkable results. Just give it a chance and you’ll see for yourself.