Saturday, February 12, 2011

Sixth Tai Chi Class of the Season

Today, Mary, Marilyn, and I walked out of Tai Chi class together, talking about our experience in class. I need that. I need to hear other people’s experiences. It gives me courage, validation, and motivation. I have been including my experiences of Tai Chi in my blog this semester for other people—Tai Chi students and others trying to master a skill—who have that same need.

Despite some heavy morning fuzziness from erratic sleeping patterns lately, the beginning of the day was beautiful. The sun was warm. The temperature was above 22 degrees, whoo hoo!! The ice on the sidewalks was almost all melted. We began class with some breathing exercises, Chi Gong.

When we did our first run through of the Tai Chi form, I decided to focus on the energy of everyone in the class. I imagined everyone radiating little ripples of energy as they moved. A couple of times I realized that I had no clue whatsoever where we were in the sequence of the form. Lost. Totally lost. It was disconcerting. This was not a psychic experience by any stretch of the imagination. This was like being in a crowd in an unfamiliar city. My first thought was, “Kata, you are such a frickin idiot.” My second thought was that I had tried something new and it hadn’t worked out. Trying something new is good. So, maybe next time I do this on a smaller scale or in a different way. It took me a little while to get myself back. I had a brief panicked thought that I was going to stay lost forever. I had to draw my attention in very tightly, focusing on my own energy.

The first thing that Bob had us focus on today was imaging an opponent as we went through the form, focusing on the martial arts application of each movement. Perhaps I was enjoying this a bit too much, but I didn’t have any problems focusing. The next thing we were to focus on was our backs: upper, middle, and lower. This is something I need to do more often. I felt like I was just getting warmed up when it was time to move on to the next principle. The last lesson was to focus on bending our knees all through the form: both knees, all the form. Light bulbs were flashing in my head as well as in those around me. I kept on thinking that surely we were supposed to have our legs straight for particular moves. Nope, Bob’s leg was slightly bent when I looked over at him. After class, it was good to hear Mary say that she had the same experience. Bob ended the class by telling us that we should smile when we realize that we have made a mistake. The brain processes the mistake differently than when we frown. I thought, "How about when we silently berate ourselves with obscenities and pseudo-obscenities?"

I am beginning to think that I need to practice Tai Chi principles more when I am not practicing Tai Chi. Many of the principles apply to posture and movement in general. On the way home on the bus, I noticed the posture of a mailman walking on his route. Of all people, it seems to me that mailmen have to have good body mechanics so that they can do their whole route, every day of their week, with as little physical stress as possible. The learning never ends.

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