So thankful this year for family, friends, being able to walk and Tai Chi. Tai Chi, with its slow, mindful weight-shifting moves has brought me new life and healing. I have been blessed with wonderful teachers, who have been patient, kind and pushed me a bit, but only to the limit of where my body was comfortable. Thank you to them and Tai Chi itself, that has taught me patience and how to truly focus on the moment.
When I first went to an acupuncturist healer, most of what she said was unfamiliar to me. She talked about energy blockage, energy deficiency and excess. She talked about Qi, the life-force energy that gives us life. She talked about channels and organ systems.
Why did I go in the first place? My neurologist had said matter-of-factly, after being his MS patient for many years, “There is nothing more I can do for you.” I still felt overwhelming fatigue. My balance was terrible. My right leg and ankle were weak. And, the main reason I went to this healer was because a great friend had received so much help from her. This healer came highly recommended.
Through persistence, hard work, trust and working closely with my healer, my life has been transformed. She recommended Tai Chi which I embraced and have been practicing for over 20 years. Tai Chi has been instrumental in that transformation.
I stepped out of my comfort zone, jumped into the unknown without knowing exactly what I was doing. And, I followed the advice of my Tai Chi teachers and healers – listen to your body and do only what you can do. Do only what you can do.
Over my 18 years as a Tai Chi teacher, I often tell new students that I have two overall expectations – 1. Try to keep your attention in the room as much as possible and 2. Do only what you can do. I have learned how hard it is for some adults in my classes to pay attention to what they are comfortable doing with and in their bodies. They want do what the teacher does. They want to do what they think other students are doing. They want to keep up.
I have learned that my students who listen to their bodies and do what they can do receive benefits of Tai Chi more than those who do not. So, I will continue to suggest and gently guide using that wisdom which was so helpful for me.
Are you listening to your body and only doing what you can do? Or are you pushing yourself beyond that point? Take some time to listen today and be kind to yourself.
Nature moves in a coordinated manner- the day dawns and night falls; the seasons have patterns of warm to cool, green leaves to beautiful red, orange and yellow leaves as they prepare to depart and welcome in winter; water warm enough in summer to attract us to swim or be at the beach; water freezes in the winter so it’s time for ice skating or sledding or skiing.
If you have been reading my blogs in the last few months, you know I have been focusing on clouds. The clouds, during the day and at sunset, have been spectacular this year. When I look up, gaze at the wispy clouds, the big, white puffy clouds, with their changing formations and gentle movement across the sky, I am still. I am in the moment. The clouds are part of the natural rhythms of nature.
While in Poland a couple weeks ago, I paid attention to the clouds, almost 5000 miles from home. The clouds at sunset in Lodz were stunning. And then back at home, out my front window, the clouds framed a great picture of my city.
These images came into my consciousness again today as I was reading the “Tai Chi Classics”. I’m eager to start my fall Tai Chi classes tomorrow and want to ground myself in major principles. In the treatise by Master Chang San-feng,
(ca. 1200 C.E.), he says “Once you begin to move, the entire body must by light and limber. Each part of your body should be connected to every other part.” He emphasizes that the entire body needs to move, not just the hands, or elbows or legs. We need to be like the universe that moves in a coordinated way, with balance and harmony.
For me, that’s like day turning into night, seasons changing, watching the clouds drift by with ease and grace and harmony. I aspire to move my body as a coordinated unit with Tai Chi. It’s a life-long journey and it’s so worth it.
I am grateful for students who are are with me in this journey.