We often think that we are still or we are moving. With Tai Chi we are shifting weight and focusing our mind to move our energy in specific ways. These gentle movements create stillness within.
On the first Thursday of each month, practitioners and teachers of the Heartwood Center gather for a community meeting. Over the last few months members have presented a case study and it’s often a person for whom there has been collaboration by two or more practitioners/teachers.
As we sat in a circle this morning, Nancy Floy began by asking us to be still for a few moments, to go to a place of stillness that we all have.
“It’s the most yin time of year, with less daylight and more darkness. Embrace the darkness and find in it the spaciousness and stillness,” Nancy said. She added that with the busyness of preparing for upcoming holidays, we don’t often stop to be still, look inside. The darkness, coolness, dampness call us to do that.
After three to four minutes of stillness, we began to listen, to discuss. I felt awake and ready to listen. I felt a calm, expectant energy in the room.
After presenting the case study situation, a psychotherapist, massage therapist, reiki practitioner, acupuncturist, psychiatrist, chiropractor and others commented on what they could or would offer to help this individual. With each comment, we learned more about the individual practitioners do and the summation was a very holistic treatment approach for the person being discussed. Very enlightening and I was warmed by the level of professionalism and expertise in the room and the unbelievable caring from each person.
As we finished our discussion, Nancy asked us to collectively do one more thing.
“This is not just a case study we been focusing on. She’s a person. She’s a mother, daughter, a person with feelings. Let’s be quiet and celebrate her breakthroughs and her progress because she has had to focus so much on problems and what she can’t do,” Nancy said. We sat silently for about three minutes, focusing our collective good energy and compassion on this woman.
Take time to embrace the spaciousness and stillness of darkness. Give collective compassion.
With so much fear and danger and negative darkness in our world news, it’s so encouraging to know and experience that ‘darkness’ can be so positive when we embrace it with hopefulness, caring and compassion.
How honored I felt to be part of that energy this morning.
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.