What has been most memorable in your life over the last 20 years? Life events probably come to mind – birth of children or grandchildren, a graduation, a marriage or divorce, starting a new job, the death of a loved one, a great travel experience. . .
Given you are now thinking about the last 20 years, what have you learned? What do you know now that you did not know as your younger self?
I have been thinking a lot about these questions as I join colleagues in celebrating Heartwood Integrative Health and Healing’s 20th year and also celebrating my 20th year of teaching at Heartwood. I will begin with what Tai Chi has taught and continues to teach me, because Tai Chi has and continues to offer me so many valuable life lessons.
A BIG LESSON – The Tortoise Wins. The story of the tortoise and the hare, in Aesop’s Fables. The hare is boastful, laughing, telling all that a race with the tortoise is no match, because the tortoise is so slow. Not even thinkable that the tortoise would come close to winning a race between the two. And what happens? The tortoise with slow, steady, focused steps forward wins the race!
I love this story and what it teaches us, in a culture where speed is valued so highly. The tortoise is clear about its path, stays focused, is not deterred by distractions and reaches the goal line first. We do not have to be in a race although some of us are in one with ourselves, with long to-do lists, places to go, people to see, with not enough time.
The tortoise tells us there is enough time. We all have 24 hours in a day. With focus and slow, purposeful steps, we can move forward, or even better, we can be in the moment. Tai Chi is like that, our minds directing our energy in specific ways to be in the moment. Stresses of the day fade away as we shift our weight methodically, gracefully and with purpose.
I find with regular Tai Chi practice, I have more time. Slowing down, breathing, clearing the mind all promote increased energy for all i have to do and be.
What have I learned in 20 years that has enhanced my life? Take time to be like a tortoise. “Slow and steady” has advantages.