Eileen is a great example of making Tai Chi a major part of her life experience. She shows up. She practices outside of class. She has received many benefits from her practice. Thanks, Eileen, for your example, your continuing commitment and sharing your good energy with all of us!
I am in my 13th year of weekly tai chi classes with my instructor, Arlene Faulk. This amazes me, because it is far longer than anything I have ever pursued outside of a job. Arlene asked me recently what has changed over these years and my first, and really only, response is ME! I have changed. I have come to a level of comfort and confidence in my ability to do this physical thing, to learn the many steps of a complex process, and to have patience and enthusiasm to keep refining what I have learned.
I remember an experience after my first two years, when we were learning the Sun style. I had spent a miserable day stuck in O’Hare airport, then waiting at Boston Logan in noisy traffic for a country-bound bus. When I finally got to a small bus terminal in rural northern MA, I was five hours late, no one to meet me, everyone had left. I inhaled the fresh scent of the surrounding pines, absorbed the quiet of the evening, and started to do my tai chi moves. It was the most freeing experience! I realized that I knew enough to go through all the moves, no special clothes or shoes required. I could do this anywhere, any time — just me being me and moving in slow rhythm. That was when I fell in love with this ancient form of artful exercise. Since then, we learned the Wudang form, and more recently, Cheng Man-chi’ing’s Yang style short form, my favorite.
Now I am 13 years older, classmates have come and gone, and I so enjoy the five people with whom I have shared this experience in recent years. After a knee replacement, my balance isn’t perfect. On several occasions, I have started to trip and fall, only to right myself by planting my other foot “like the roots of a tree” as Arlene always encourages us to do. I stabilized and I have a firm faith that I will continue to do so.
What has not changed? Arlene has remained a constant leader and teacher, imparting her extensive knowledge, and encouraging us to breathe in peace and calmness as we experience this life force energy that surges through us all.