Saturday, January 8, 2011

First Tai Chi Class of the Semester

Like Coming Home. I had to take two buses this morning with a wind chill in the single digits to get to class. I am not sure how to explain the experience to people who don’t have a similar point of reference. Yes, I could have been doing Tai Chi at home, maybe even trying something new from a book, but it wouldn't have been the same thing. After class Mary was kind enough to drop me off at a bus stop, so that I didn’t have to make a transfer on my way home, and she referred to the group as her “Tai Chi Sisters.” Many in the group have been together for over ten years.

On our first pass through the Tai Chi form this morning Bob, our Tai Chi Instructor, had us focus on how we felt. I am sure he had something different in mind when he gave the instructions than what I noticed. First, I became aware of what was stiff and hurt. I then became aware of how different it was practicing with a group than by myself, having to pay attention to the pace of the other women—and one man—around me. I became aware of a certain vulnerability welling up inside of me as I realized how tentative and fragile the experience of being together as a little community is.—Earlier this week, after I received news that a once close friend had passed away, I had spent time thinking about the close knit groups I had been involved with in another state.— Lastly, I became aware of a global body energy: a circle around me, the farthest reach of my hands and my knees, and of my feet when I kicked.

Bob talked about going into the void, into the unknowing. This seems to be a theme in my life lately, including some of the books I have been reading. New ideas and learning come up from that void. So, as the class progressed and we did parts of the form, we were instructed to focus on specific parts of our bodies and just pay attention without thinking about them conceptually, without any preconceived notions, being open to what came up. Our last time through, we were instructed to focus on foot, ankle, knee, and hip. I started running into a paradox, because I needed to have some way of homing into those parts. I tried to imagine dots on each part, which created a layer between my attention and my direct awareness. I am beginning to feel much more camaraderie with all those old Zen masters and their convoluted sentences.

As we left class, Mary echoed my sentiments. This year's classes has been some of the most challenging and most rewarding.

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