Suppose I have one completely free day for self-cultivation then I will arrange it like this:
Morning: After getting up, I will brew a pot of aged Pu-erh tea. After having a few cups of tea, my belly will be warm (note these are small cups see image). Then I will do some simple stretching exercises slowly. As it is the beginning of the day, I will choose to practice an internal style Kungfu either Bagua Zhang or Taichi Quan. It takes me about 45 minutes to practice the Old Eight another Palm of Baguazhang or the complete Wu-style old frame. Because I am already proficient in these forms, my training focus is not on the shape or application but on the so-called “spirit”, and so when I practice my muscles are slow and relaxed, loose and long to let the joints move in rhythm.
Let everything in your mood go, concentrate wholeheartedly on the overall movements and relax your mind. Movements should be relaxed and natural, don’t use clumsy force and don’t make short bursts of Jin. Imagine that you are a baby who is just a few months old and wake up with a brand new enthusiasm and curiosity to life. There is no stress and no worries. When I practice the Eight Mother Palms, majority of the practice focus is on the Old Three Palms, namely the Single Palm Change 單換掌, Double Palm Change 雙換掌 and the Flowing Posture Palm 順勢掌, with an occasional sporadic addition of one of the other palms according to the feeling of the moment. Repeat sets an unlimited time as you feel satisfied, no need to regiment or restrict your practice with time limits or a number of repetitions- just practice until you are satisfied, although for me this comes to about 45 minutes give or take. When I practice the Wu-style Tai Chi, first I practice the middle frame and then the small frame. Practising these two sets once will already be about half an hour for me, and so to complete the 45-minute session I’ll practice one of the frames once more. After my practice the body will be slightly sweating and feeling warmed up, that’s when it’s time for breakfast.
Noon: I would use 1 to 1.5 hours either before lunch or after dinner to practice an external style: for me that would be Tongbei Pigua Quan. Within Tongbei Pigua Quan I would select for myself one of two focuses: one is the research of the Taolu/Forms, and the other is the practice of the Technique, Skill and Power. But I would only practice one focus at a time.
The purpose of a Taolu focussed practice is to review what has been learnt in the past in techniques and knowledge and try to create a deeper understanding and connection. Because of this deep examination of forms, I would recommend only choosing one or at maximum two of the routines, you have learned in the past to practice. On the first practice round do it slowly and relaxed, then on the second round do it quickly with explosive power and gusto. After that, adjust and play with the rhythm on the third round by adding some variation to the pace. Try to express the intention or the idea behind the choreography of the form by exploring: speed, slowness, urgency, power; explore the opposites forces of rigidity and softness, light and dark one by one. For the fourth time or more of training practice as you want, and use your body’s feeling to develop your own understanding.
If I choose to practice Skill or Technique in my session, then the purpose will be to concentrate on practising single techniques or strengthening/conditioning physical fitness. Usually, the focus will be on the Tongbei 24 postures 通臂廿四勢 or the Pigua single arms techniques 單操手 and various footwork. Choose a few of them to practice alone, check whether your posture is correct, whether the strength is enough, and fluid, check whether your execution of the move is reasonable and so on, and then repeat it many times until you are satisfied. I will also use combined actions to hit sandbags for conditioning and getting a feel for impact, or shadow boxing exercises. At the end of the session, I’ll close with power training exercises, such as various palm/fist push-ups, big spear training, body patting, etc.
Evening: 45 minutes before going to bed is time for meditation practice. First, I take simple breaths, make body adjustments or light stretches until finding a comfortable position and then I sit and meditate. Sitting cross-legged with clasped hands to clear and calm my mind, letting go of the day’s work and slow down the operation of the brain, allowing the nerves to relax and slowly putting me into a state of tranquillity and rest. Then once I feel satisfactorily at peace I’ll go to bed and end the day’s activities contently.
Note that the above is my practice and how I would schedule my day during holidays and vacation time.