Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Why is T'ai Chi such an amazing practice?

What is it about T’ai Chi that makes it such an amazing exercise, meditation, life practice? You can do it anywhere and at any time - Almost any experience can be T’ai Chi practice. I don’t know of any other exercise/practice where this works quite so seamlessly.

I am sitting here at Pete’s Coffee and Tea in Harvard Square, watching the Cambridge world go by: joggers, walkers, strollers, sitters, roller bladers, drivers, standers-by. All of these people could be doing exactly what they are doing and enhance the doing of it by adding the quality of T’ai Chi. T’ai Chi is a way of experiencing the world with more silky smoothness (Ah, that phrase was probably influenced by the soy Latte I am sipping); of moving / Being with more ease, flow, and grace; of taking great delight in the very process of Being alive - moment by moment.

It is the same feeling I used to get sporadically and unexpectedly of, ‘A beautiful day.’ Only now I can design it, I can ‘make’ it happen, actually - allow it to happen -  just by tuning into the very practical, physical ability to allow life, to consciously experience that flow of electrons, particles, current, energy we call the present moment, or the Now.

There is nothing mystical or spiritual about it. If you suddenly become aware that you are clenching your fists or your jaw, or holding your breath, it is a simple matter of opening that fist, relaxing the jaw, or taking a breath. For a T’ai Chi player there is little difference; it just works on a deeper level. We become aware that we are ‘clenching’ our Now and simply let go, melt, dissolve that feeling of clenching.

Clenching, tightening, holding, tensing.... it's the same process whether it is as obvious as a tight fist or as subtle as a tight mind. The process of relaxing them is the same too. It just takes the three things that studies have shown are necessary for learning a new skill or unlearning an old habit: Desire, Feedback, and Practice.

 There is really nothing special about Being. It’s as common as dirt, we all do it all the time. What could be more common than Being? What is uncommon is the conscious experience and enjoyment of Being. As far as I am concerned that is the purpose of life: Enjoying Being. That’s it and it doesn’t matter a whit what you do or who you are. Profession, wealth, social status, gender, political affiliation, are all window dressing, smoke and mirrors concealing the common thread of Being that goes on behind and throughout it all. It is all just Being.  Playing in the fields of Being - “That’s what its all about” (to quote the Hokey Pokey).

Happy Playing.

Come join me to play with Peter Ralston at a weekend workshop in September in Northampton.  http://www.chiwiz.com/Ralston.html