There is a flame, a fire below the cauldron, which ever burns, but is not always utilized. It is the internal fire of change, the motive power of transformation.
This fire refines the inner metal, burning off impurities and attachments that we might see clearly, move smoothly. The components of the flame are alignment, balance, timing, the coordination of the various jin, the intensity of intention.
The initiation of action, the form, is the spark of ignition. The burning is unmistakable at the flame tears through the central channel, searching for fuel and initiating change. And when the flame dies down, after it has burned out, we are never the same.
In my approach to Taiji-Qigong all training is subjective. Our abilities, our goals, the visible reality of our goals, the meaning of these goals, even having goals at all is subjective. Setting an objective standard is a game-stopper and a sure fire way to alienate people who may otherwise benefit from the practice.
My biggest frustration as a teacher, if I have any at all, is getting across the idea that we are all different and that is OK. I don't expect everyone to be able to do the same things the same way. I don't expect anyone to progress at any speed other than what is typical for said person when he/she is doing his/her best. Our bodies know what they need--much better than we do, much better than our teachers do. It is sad to me to see students who think they are struggling, and are holding up the rest of the class. First of all, struggle is a mental construct. You only struggle if you believe you struggle. Second, there is no holding up the class, because there is no where to go. The benefits of practice are found in the practice, not at the end of practice. No one is or should be in a hurry. If they are, they have also misunderstood the nature of this practice. If I have said it once, I've said it a million times: the means are the end.
The way to progress is through diligence, humility, and surrender. That includes surrendering expectations. We should all just go with the flow, flow with the wind. Take a step, then take another. If you feel the pace of things is too fast, slow down and go at your own pace. If you think the pace of things is too slow, slow down and look really close at every single movement, every breath, every intention. You may find it's not going slow enough.
Taiji-Qigong practice should be fun, relaxing, and energizing. Let it.
Rodney J Owen