Tai chi is a form of qigong (energy work). The practice of qigong, including tai chi, involves the engagement of three ongoing regulations, which are the elements of what I refer to as tai chi composure.
The Three Regulations are body regulation, breath regulation, and mind regulation. Body is the physical aspect of our experience, mind is the cognitive aspect, and breath is the link between the two. This corresponds to the fact that breathing is controlled by both the somatic and autonomic nervous system, making it at once both voluntary and automatic. In a sense, the breathing impulse exists in two worlds at once, spanning the gap between mind and body, or conscious and subconscious.
Body regulation consists of relaxing and aligning. As you practice, continually scan your body for excess tension and misalignment, relaxing the muscles, expanding the joints, and aligning the bones with gravity.
Breath regulation consists of breathing in a natural way. As you practice, continually return to consciousness of your breathing, while allowing the breath to flow smoothly, continuously, fully, and evenly.
Mind regulation consists of present moment awareness and sensory activation. As you practice, continually return your awareness to the present moment and fill it with the physical sensations within your body and the sensory inputs from your surroundings.