1/ LIFT THE HEAD TO RAISE THE SPIRIT: This is the number one Essences, both in the sequence and importance. If your posture is stooped or you are looking down all the time, you cannot lift your spirit. We all know the phrase “walk tall”. It is true in Tai Chi and life in general. If your head is up, then your spirit rises and you become stronger inside. If you ever watch a Tai Chi Master, it will seem as if they are able to look at every person in the room. This is because the first essence is in place and they have a strong spirit.
2/ LOWER THE SHOULDERS TO SINK THE ELBOWS: Everything in Tai Chi is connected to Yin and Yang. If you lift your head, it must be complemented by a downward energy. This is sinking your shoulders. Tension will cause your shoulders to rise, so if you can relax your shoulders, you will start to reduce the amount of tension locked in your body. When your shoulders relax, your breathing pattern will alter because of the decreased pressure on your lungs.
3/ CURVE THE BACK AND SOFTEN THE CHEST: As your shoulders relax, your back should become slightly rounded to soften your chest. This is the opposite of standing to attention, army style. The lung meridian will be able to do its work more easily, and your breathing will sink.
4/ LOOSEN THE WAIST: As your breathing sinks, so will your centre of gravity. Less energy is being wasted through being locked up in the upper part of your body. When this change takes place, you will be able to start feeling the movements from your Tan Tien point (on your abdomen). The Tan Tien will start to rotate and gather energy.
5/ SEPARATE THE SUBSTANTIAL FROM THE INSUBSTANTIAL: When you start to feel movement from the Tan Tien, it will seem obvious that your legs should not be double-weighted. For even Tai Chi movement, your weight is continually transferring from one leg to the other (substantial to insubstantial).
6/ CO-ORDINATE THE UPPER AND LOWER BODY: When you have understood the idea of double weight, you will start to examine other co-ordinations. The next thing to look at is whether your upper body is working in time with your lower body. If your legs finish a push before your arms, there is no upper and lower body co-ordination.
7/ CONTINUITY IN MOVEMENT: When your upper and lower body are coordinated, your movement will naturally become continuous. If your arms or legs stop at any point, then check your co-ordinations. The Tai Chi movement should be one continuous flow.
8/ UNITE MIND WITH BODY: If your Tai Chi movement has become continuous, you then need to co-ordinate what you understand about the applications with the movements. If the intent of your mind is coordinated with your Tai Chi frame, you will understand this.
9/ USE MIND NOT FORCE: At this stage, you will have learned how to co-ordinate your intent with the movement. Energy is moved by intent with the movement. Energy is moved by intent, so when you can unify your intent with your body, you can unify your Energy with your intent. This is how you use mind instead of force.
10/ SEEK STILLNESS IN MOTION AND MOTION WITHIN STILLNESS: This is an extremely high level of Tai Chi. It means that you can perform all of the co-ordinations in the Ten Essences and not have to send your systems into overload trying to remember it all. It is the same as watching a master craftsman working alongside his apprentice. They may be doing the same job,but the Master will seem effortless in his endeavours.