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.

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