On January 3, 2022, 23 apprentices and students came together for a Tai Chi Winter Training here in the UK. This is how it came about and what happened.
The Yang family is renowned for tai chi, and their tradition includes eight words describing the qualities of excellent tai chi: Centered and Balanced, Peaceful and Comfortable, Light and Agile, Rounded and Lively. I often think that these are great qualities to animate our lives as well. Let’s look at each of them in turn.
Centered and Balanced
Introduction by Margaret Olmsted
Pat Gorman wrote this article for the Tai Chi Press, Vol. II, No. IV. In that version, she left out a paragraph she had written elsewhere about Repulse Monkey and a line about Four Corners which I have included here.
Each time you take a journey through the form it can be different, from completely missing the journey to having the best tai chi round ever. Sometimes the journey is taken alone and sometimes with others. Does that change it for you? Remember to enjoy the journey!
The second weekend in October 2021 I was in Götzens in Austria where for the first international Tai Chi group training in almost two years. Students came from Austria and Switzerland. Teachers came from Austria, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom and France. With Covid 19’s safety restrictions, it has not been possible to have in person group trainings. This has led to a feeling of isolation for a lot of us. So the theme of the tai chi weekend was to reawaken the feeling of connectedness and unity between us and others and to vitalize our life energy.
When I traveled across country on September 15th, 2021, Hurricane Nicholas was giving my cross-country airplane quite a bit of turbulence.
To pass time (and not be afraid) I put myself through all 37 positions of our tai chi rounds without moving a muscle (or at least I don’t think I moved a muscle).
Here is the playful drama I created.
I am going on a journey through the jungle, which should be fun.
Over the summer I have enjoyed watching several sports in the Olympics. The Netherlands did very well, and we saw many TV interviews with the athletes. What struck me most was that when they gave an account of what it takes to perform their sport on the highest level, most said that it was largely in the mind! Surprising!
Are you a caretaker finding yourself stretched to your limits? It’s not only the kindest thing we can do but also the most practical, to nurture our own well-being and mental health in the midst of so many overwhelming pressures and stresses like the raging Covid pandemic. Self-care and staying centered need to be recognized as essential life skills. After all, If we are falling apart and crumbling from undue stress, how can we be of service to others?
The tai chi self is an extraordinary experiment in living. It perceives mind and body as one. It recognizes that we are solid stuff and also immaterial. To say it in tai chi terms, we are substantial and insubstantial. These are not dualities but complements, and you can play with them in a tai chi way. That is, you can let them interact and interlace, and allow them to set you in motion, as we say. Sometimes I am so enchanted by the workings of tai chi in my very bones that I become taller and lighter, and a sense of childlike happiness often fills me up.
Relax and breathe. While this guidance would make sense in most of life’s moments, it was particularly valuable to me as I took my first steps in tai chi last April. The world had completely shut down from COVID; I had just left my secure job in corporate brand management, and my savings were crumbling as the stock market was tumbling. Relax and breathe.