March is the month when we really start thinking about the spring season. Yes, this month marks the calendar beginning of spring, although in Chicago, it feels like spring one day and winter the next. We have had a cloudy, snowy and rainy start to spring this year, so right now we’re thinking about the season rather than experiencing it.
Just like making resolutions for January to start a new year, we plan cleaning out — closets, papers, broken appliances — to have our homes feel neat and clean for March and April. Good for those of us who actually take the time to empty out closets, catch-all drawers and give away or throw away.
We have to be intentional for this to work. We may set a specific goal and timeline to accomplish this. We may say our intention out loud, to increase our motivation and resolve. We know ourselves and what would light a little fire under us to actually take action.
Tai Chi can be like cleaning out a closet; a closet is a metaphor for our entire life. Too often, we take on more and more, in our life that if already full. We get overwhelmed, are frustrated, have trouble sleeping and can never cross off enough items on our ‘to do’ list.
In class we use breathing, breathing in — filling up, then breathing out — emptying out. Very slow, very focused. It helps to clear our mind and stop long enough to refresh and create capacity to take new things in. Intentional walking, which we practice in every Tai Chi class focuses on the same principle. Place 100% of your weight on one leg (filling up); allowing for 0% on the other so you can take a step (emptying out). Fill up (Yang) and empty out (Yin). We need both to feel some balance in our days and in our entire life.
Taking a Tai Chi class can help us cultivate a pattern and habit of these helpful practices. However, everybody can breathe with intention and walk with intention, wherever you are. What a great way to welcome spring into our lives — breathe and walk.