A consistent mantra I have with my students is to encourage them to do Tai Chi by or near a tree. Not only do trees represent important principles of Tai Chi — balance, rootedness, flexibility — they also give us energy. They are at work bringing up moisture and nutrients from the earth, helping to cleanse our air, giving us shade, central to the rhythms of nature.
I spent a few days last month in the north woods of Minnesota. I had been to Sandstone for a Tai Chi retreat a few years ago, but this time I was farther north, up in the Duluth area. I knew I was in for something special when flying in because all I could see were trees blanketing the landscape. These trees are breathtaking, making me want to be near them, with their pole-shaped trunks, green leaves and height so tall I could barely see the tops.
My body was drawn to be with the trees and to play my Tai Chi amongst them. The leaves shimmed in the sunlight, the stillness seeped into my mind. The silence was awesome. There was only the moment. I felt graceful, and flowing and was right where I wanted to be.
Little wildflowers were at my feet. I felt surrounded by peace, light and nourishment. Time stopped. it was magical.