When Pedro Martinez returned to Fenway in 2006 as a pitcher for the Mets, Boston honored him with a video tribute at the beginning of the game series, even though he was on the opposing team. The next day Pedro was the starting pitcher for the Mets, but he only lasted three innings, giving up several runs in quick succession.
My friend and student, Larry Lucchino, told me afterward that Boston had "killed Pedro with love." Too many emotions and memories had flooded Pedro's mind, and he was unable to perform.
I also struggled for a long time to take the forces of life that were coming at me and work with them, rather than fight them. When you fight the energy of the moment, you underperform. It is so important to learn how to utilize the energy coming at you, and direct it into something constructive.
That is what practice with the Tai Chi Ball is all about. The ball represents the energetic force of the world around you. The goal is to be like water, yielding, and then forceful. The ball is the energy being absorbed, and then used against itself.
As you go deeper into this practice, you see that this energy you are absorbing and returning can also be something life difficulties in life, or troubling emotions. You take the energy of these problems, and you turn it on the problems to help solve them.
Easier said than done, but here are the motions to practice:
"Grind": Move the ball in a circular motion in front of you, always keeping it roughly level with your navel, as if you were grinding it into a table. Begin with 15 circles in each direction.
Ahn Circles: Move he ball in a circular motion in front of you, always keeping it in-line with your spine, as if you were spinning it around on a big bicycle wheel. Begin with 15 circles both toward you, and away from you.
Advanced Motion, One Arm: This motion includes two circles, one under your armpit, and another above your head. Watch the video to see exactly how it is done. Begin with 15 circles, in forward, and then reverse. Then switch arms and repeat.
If you want to experience this yielding and utilizing forces exercise even more, also practice Centering with a partner, which deals with exactly the same principles.