This week when I arrived at Tai Chi class, I noticed a little, old man with hunched shoulders. I originally thought he was the father—or even grandfather—of one of my classmates. When class began, he was in the front row, wearing bright red socks, and doing the warm up Chi Gong exercises with the rest of us. Bob made a point to explain each of the exercises before we did them. When we moved on to the Tai Chi form, our visitor tried his best to follow along. He seemed peaceful, not at all self conscious. I briefly had a flashback to when I lived in San Diego years ago and saw the Tai Chi form for the first time. After doing the form once, Bob took a brief break to talk to the man. It turns out our visitor was a veteran who was thinking about bringing Tai Chi to some of the other veterans. I wasn’t sure whether he was considering having Bob teach a class or just do a demo.
The second time around when we did the form, Bob played his CD describing the purpose and benefits of Tai Chi. Our visitor sat on a chair, watching us, taking notes, and occasionally moving his arms in sync to our movements. Bob didn’t really teach anything new to us this week.
The experience made me think. I have been troubled by all the recent articles about PTSD in veterans. While Tai Chi isn’t the answer, it could be part of the solution. In addition, there are other people who are hurting—rape and abuse victims, families with loved ones who have chronic illness, etc.—who could benefit from a session of Tai Chi, even if they never learned to do it on their own. Despite taking Tai Chi classes on and off for over a decade, I never feel particularly competent. I certainly don’t feel I could lead a group. Maybe I have gotten to the point where I at least need to mentally offer my Tai Chi practice up to God—the universe—as an instrument for the greater good.
While trying to research Tai Chi and PSTD in veterans, I found an inspiring article about Tai Chi at the Casper Veterans Administration Clinic.