Stage 5 – Hints and Tips

In stage 5 of the form we are reaching up to the Divine energy. In stage 5 reaching to the light is no longer balanced by earth or heart energy. In Swallows Flies South both hands reach to the light and one hand draws down. It the Four Corners movement both hands draw the energy down. This stage of the form is sacred work and should be done with pure intent and knowledge. Return to Altar should be the calling point to return to the Altar of the heart and be clear about the sacred intent of the remainder of the form. The form opens the crown centre and draws down the divine feminine and divine masculine energies. The culmination of the form is Perfect Strength and Balance, where the whole universe is balanced around the still point, the tai chi centre, in the heart. Heaven and Earth, fire and water, internal and external, male and female, emptiness and fullness are all balanced. Everything is complete.

Many of the moves in stage 5 are repeats of earlier moves in the opposite direction. Here we concentrate on the moves unique to Stage 5 and those whose significance has changed.

Reflections in the Mirror
As in stage 4.

Horizontal Cosmic Circles / Rainbow bridge / Dance With Angels
Apart from an initial movement to hold the energy and gain width in the stance, this is all as stage 2.

Swallow Flies South
Both hands reach up to the light, and the right hand initially draws light down. The footwork here has a movement which is unique in the form. When you draw the light down the weight comes fully onto the left foot. The right foot then steps across. Turn all the weight onto the right foot, and face the right. Step back with the left foot, with width, ready for the next move and weight on the left, adjust the right foot by turning on the heel.

Push Down to the Ocean / Half Moon Circles / Scooping Hands
As in Stage 4

Return to Altar
When you finish the form you should end up in the same physical place as when you started.
This starts the backward movement to return to that place. The intent here is to return to the altar in the heart centre, to prepare for the final opening and awakening. Each movement steps back. As I step it feels right to me to reach out and up to draw the light into the heart e.g. initially stepping back left, the left hand reaches out and draws the light in. Expand the heart as the body turns to the front and the right foot draws in. Repeat right and left. This for me is one of the most beautiful moves. Now is the time to remember the spiritual intent that you had at the start of the form.

Circles in the Air
Step back again as in Return to Altar, but this time extend the light out from the heart in two circles. The left hand from the heart outwards and upwards, throat centre, the right hand creates a horizontal circle to the right. Both circles come back together at the heart, feel them merging. Repeat three times and then come in and once more step back with the left foot and extend in the same way to the right. As you extend out it is strong and gentle as you draw back to the heart. The step back between the movements is like the last step in return to Altar.

Light From the Four Corners
I find that the step into this movement can be difficult as is the same step in the middle.
As you extend for the third circle in the air, to the right, adjust the left foot so that it is ready for this movement, the left toes pointing forward. Look over the shoulder for the step behind keeping the feet in line and adjust them as you turn. The movement is very graceful. Turn to the centre to bring the light down to the heart. Keep the space, so that although the light is drawn to the heart the hands maintain the distance.
In many ways this is start of the final part of the form. Now there is no energetic balance with the earth and both hands are drawing the energy into the heart. All the energy of the light is drawn in from the four corners of the universe. You are ready now.

The Divine Feminine
The final standing positions, opening the crown centre. There are two stances here, the first extending the hands out to the sides opens the crown, the light is then brought down and held. First the Divine Feminine and then both stances repeated for the Divine masculine.

The movement now is based on stage 1 so in more ways than one we are returning to where we started. Reach up to bring down the energy, don’t be worried at this stage about raising the shoulder. As the left hand draws down through the crown, it is drawing in the Divine Feminine energy into the open vessel. Use whatever image of the Divine Feminine that works for you to remind you of the qualities; Kwan Yin, Tara, Isis, Mother Mary, Shakti. Hands should be open to the flow but you can also hold a mudra if that feels appropriate. Feel the qualities of compassion, nurturing, intuition, unconditional love, the mother’s love for her child. Remember those qualities within you.

The Divine Masculine
The right hand draws down the Divine masculine energy through the crown. Right hand at the heart this time. Again find an image that works for you; Christ, Krishna, Buddha, Shiva. Feel the qualities of the Divine Masculine energy; strength, wisdom, guidance, love. Recognise those qualities within you.

Perfect Strength and Balance
The repeat of the standing position in stage one but now the whole world is in balance within you and through you; fire and water, heaven and earth, male and female, internal and external, emptiness and fullness. Everything is balanced and whole. This is the essence of tai Chi, it is the symbol made manifest. This is the essence of who you are.

Closure and Completion
Draw everything in, step forward with the left foot and form the sun and moon. An empty step with the right foot offering the sun and moon with gratitude. Step forward onto the right and merge the sun and moon, unison. Bring the feet together and reach up to the light drawing it down and closing. At the heart give thanks to the Divine in whatever form you appreciate it, give thanks to the earth and give thanks for anyone joining you in the form.
Spend time just being.

It will take you as long to master the 5 stages of the form as it takes to know yourself completely. The form reflects the spiritual journey and at the end of the form you are completely at one with the universe, there is no separation. To reach this, it is not the knowledge of the form and the movement, nor is the experience of the quality in the form. It is about self knowledge, emptiness and wholeness at the same time. It is Tai Chi, the Supreme Ultimate. Infinite Tai Chi is about seeking the infinite, the end of stage 5, is the end of the journey.