Friday, February 22, 2008

Where Did that Attitude Come From?

When I was in school, writing assignments were a breeze for me. Our family religiously watched the nightly news, and I heard Walter Cronkite’s articulate voice in my head whenever I put pen to paper. Occasionally I will hear an odd phrase come out of my mouth or appear in my e-mails. Where did that come from? I feel a sense of accomplishment when I can track the wording back to its source. I am amazed how easily these phrases slip into my life without any conscious effort on my part.

I am aware of a similar process taking place in my attitudes toward life. For example, while reading books by Alexander McCall Smith recently I have found myself with a smile that starts at my toes and goes all the way up. When I watch television, I now make an effort to pay attention to the feelings I have during and after each program. NCIS usually leaves me feeling upbeat, probably because of the interactions of the main characters. Lost seems to stimulate my curiosity toward life. Recently, entertainment news programs have left me with a judging attitude. What amazes me is that I have spent a lifetime being more or less unaware of how television and books form my attitudes while I passively sit in my chair.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Gradual Change

So often what I learn in Tai Chi has applications far beyond just trying to do the movements in the form correctly. My experience trying to finally do a respectable toe kick is no exception. One of the real lessons seems to be learning how to make changes very slowly. The I Ching, Book of Changes, talks about Development or Gradual Progress: Hexagram 53. The visual image is of a tree growing on a mountain. I, of course, am the tree.

In the past I have searched various sources for stretches. When I have tried to do them, my experience has not been positive. Finally, last week I asked myself, what is the smallest movement I can do and still make progress toward my goal? So, I have begun with the tiniest of toe and heel flexes. After eight years --or a lifetime for that matter-- I have finally found my starting point. I suppose even the Redwoods had to start somewhere.

I see plenty of examples in the media of people making huge changes in short periods of time. On television I constantly see examples of people’s amazing weight loss. I hear about people who had life altering events and have now turned their lives around. I wonder if most of us think that this is the way we are supposed to change. I wonder if most of us feel like failures when our experiences aren’t like that. I wonder how many people give on their goals because their experiences are different.

Where do we learn that many changes happen gradually and don’t happen at all if we try to rush them? Where do we learn to enjoy ourselves while we are slowly doing the things to bring about these changes? Tai Chi, Aikido, and other martial arts are the classrooms for many of us to learn this lesson of gradual progress.

Friday, February 8, 2008

Why A Blog?

I have nibbled around education all of my life, from tutoring in high school and college, to designing and developing training, to serving as Vice President of Education for our Toastmaster Club. Similarly, I became interesting in the concept of mastery early on in my study of Tai Chi when my classmate Phil suggested the book Mastery by George Leonard. More recently, after watching the movie What the Bleep Do We Know!? a number of times, I became interested in what Joe Dispenza calls “The Science of Changing Your Mind” in his book Evolve Your Brain.

This concept of change seems to be everywhere in my world. I think about it often. The reason I wanted to start a blog was to share my thoughts about the many ideas associated with “Change,” “Habits,” “Inspiration,” “Mastery,” and “Education.”

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Chinese New Year

Some people have their “This is the year I am going to lose ten pounds,” or “This is the year I am going to finally quit smoking.” I, on the other hand, have my “This is the year I am going to finally master heel kicks.” I have been taking Tai Chi Chuan Yang Style with the same instructor on and off for about eight years. Each September we begin by learning the first postures of the (long) form, gradually adding new postures each week until we finish the form in spring. This week, we once again start learning the kicks. Oh, I know how they are supposed to go. My body just doesn’t seem to want to move that way. Why do I doubt that the Sunday paper is going to be filled with advertisements offering to help me? “This could be the year you kick the not kicking habit.” ???