© 2002, Thomas M. Krapu, Ph.D., All rights reserve
Let t'ai chi relax the body,
Let silence relax the mind.
-Tom Krapu, Ph.D.
Silent practice and meditation
The value of silent T'ai Chi Ch'uan practice and meditation is great. This page outlines the value of silence and discusses the Silent T'ai Chi Ch'uan Retreat. This retreat is an integration of my practice and study of meditation, psychology, and Eastern philosophy that I have experienced since 1972. This is when I began my first meditation practice and formal philosophical and psychological studies. This knowledge is being applied to my current meditation practice of Professor Cheng's T'ai Chi Ch'uan that I have been studying since 1985.
A silent t'ai chi ch'uan retreat is NOT viewed as a substitute for the typical form correction "camp" or workshop. Form correction is a fundamental teaching tool which facilitates proper form practice and should not be neglected. Still, our basic form practice IS done in silence and so it is very well suited to practice within an environment of silence. A practice grounded in the experience of deep silent practice can be an excellent preparation for a form correction workshop or camp.
A silent t'ai chi ch'uan retreat is an opportunity to deepen one's practice in a way that a form correction camp cannot. With intense, silent practice comes deeper familiarity with oneself and the form and the potential for deeper relaxation. Professor Cheng as well as Yang Cheng-fu are known to have stated that the T'ai Chi Ch'uan practitioner must relax EVERYTHING, including the Mind (1, 2). Silence facilitates the relaxation of the Mind. Prolonged, silent practice helps us focus on the fundamental and direct experience of t'ai chi without an intellectual or analytical process dominating our experience. Following is one of my favorite quotes from a famous psychoanalyst and the founder of Self psychology:
The silent t'ai chi ch'uan retreat requires structure to eliminate the need for oral communication. The structure of this retreat includes Group Form practice, Standing Meditation, brief periods of Holding Postures, Free Periods for individual quiet time and rest, and times for optional silent sensing (push) hands practice. All meals are provided within a cafeteria setting and eaten in silence. All rooms are private, single occupancy (although double occupancy is available by special request).
A note on the facility. Mercy Center is an excellent facility located in the Western urban Saint Louis area (Map) on a large tract of wooded land. It is a very private facility that is immaculately maintained (their facililty is booked on weekends over a year in advance). The accommodations are very comfortable, with single occupancy accommodations and an option for double occupancy based on availability. The private rooms are spacious and large. Meals are very good and served cafeteria style. Vegetarian meals will be available for those who indicate that preference on the registration form, but the facility does not specialize in vegetarian diets. The expense of this retreat is kept low since Dr. Tom Krapu keeps the fees at a level where they primarily meet expenses.
Comments from past retreatants:
can think of no better way to achieve a deep, critical self-evaluation
of the quality of one's TCC and one's commitment to bettering it."
allows t'ai chi to happen on a level that can't be achieved otherwise."
a world/society where we are bombarded 24/7 with external stimuli, the
value of a weekend dedicated to the silent interior life, is priceless."
"It was great getting away from everyday expectations/experiences and have a chance to relax".
"It was great having so much opportunity to do the form".
"Mountains of practice in a relaxing (body & mind) atmosphere."
"Quality, quiet time, great silent t'ai chi retreat, would not change a thing."
"Lots of T'ai Chi and all the quiet really helped me NOT compare myself to other people or be unnecessarily self critical, etc."
for body and soul."
Other things that participants in the past have really appreciated are the quiet that they get to experience, having time to read t'ai chi books (for those who chose to read) and bring it immediately into practice, and the deepened quality of group practice and standing meditation since you do more of it in this type of retreat than many of us can practically do in class or at home.
© 2002, Thomas M. Krapu, Ph.D., All rights reserved.
Thank you for your interest.