Obviously different people have different kind of relationships to their Tai Chi practice. Some people are very dedicated and others practice just as little as possible or if they do, they do it in a mechanical sort of way. Some people just go to a class once or twice a weak, practice whatever is on the schedule and when they go home, they hardly even think about their practice until the next class. Others practice Tai Chi daily, but even if they do the movements of their form, they spend very little thinking about their art or do anything to practice or develop their art outside of those 15, 20 or 40 minutes they spend everyday. Yet others live with and inside their art 24/7. They often try to find ways to practice their art, regardless what they do and spend a lot of time thinking about it.
Whenever you want, wherever you are, there are a lot of opportunities to practice Tai Chi without practice a certain form, drill or posture. You can relax, check tension in your body. You can stand upright and feel your balance. When you open a locker, how do you use your body? Are you balanced? Do you feel tensions in your body when you make a certain movement? When you lift or push something, you can practice whole body movement and how to coordinate hand with feet or with the Dantian. When you walk fast is a terrific opportunity to check your breath. You can always take a breath deep and relax the chest and release tensions in the jaws.
When I was a kid, just after I had started practicing Tai Chi, when I was about eleven or twelve years old, I often stood close to my mother for a reason. I would put my foot so I could just shift my weight, leaning slightly against her and see how she reacted. I would try to do minimal movement to affect her balance. She was very, very irritated that I would sneak up to her or do this while she was cooking or cleaning. I was fascinated by how easy it was to manipulate someone’s balance. So I learned how to find opportunities to practice in daily life from a very young age. (Watching Kung Fu movies as Drunken Master and Dreadnaught certainly helped as well.)
Dedication is one thing, but obsession can also become a not so fruitful kind of dedication. If it goes far, you can suffer a kind of burnout or fatigue. Your practice might become an obstacle in your daily life and I know a person who completely stopped all of his practice after more than 40 years of dedication.
You don’t need to practice all of the time, anywhere, everywhere. Development in Tai Chi needs to grow, take it’s own time. There are no shortcuts in this art and too much practice might become a negative issue that affects your daily life. If you are dedicated, let it take time. There’s no need to pressure yourself or rush it. And you also need to grow as well and your Tai Chi needs the chance to grow together with you.