Tai Chi Class

Welcome to WholenessInMotion. Tai chi is a whole body and mind exercise that combines meditation, martial art and health tonic in one. This particular form is the Yang style, 37 posture short form as taught by Prof. Cheng Man-ch'ing. This fascinating and intricate exercise has many benefits and just about anyone can practice it.

Take a look at this site and consider the study of relaxation and how it can benefit you in your daily life. I look forward to working with you. Tom Daly


 

Archive for March, 2009

Tai Chi Chuan and Change

Posted By Tom Daly on March 8th, 2009

One Fundamental aspect of tai chi is change. The one constant in the tai chi form as well as push hands is change. You are always doing it. You are never fixed or solid. The only moment of solidity may be when you discharge during a push, the moment when you have the advantage and can take it. You take advantage of your advantage. You undermine your partner’s momentary lack of change. Actually, I’m not sure if solid is the right way, this is still a question. Certainly, you are more full when you discharge, but maybe not solid.

Some changes are large. Like during push hands you run into the hard spot, the stuck moment of your partner. Then you change direction so that you are going under this hard spot, or going into the weak spot, or like a current of water that hits a rock, goes around the hard spot. All are big changes. Green light to red light to green light.

But there are small micro changes too. As you move through the form, your shape keeps morphing, amoeba like, into a new shape. And this happens in analog fashion, smoothly, effortlessly and within each tiny moment. It is like you can take a three second sequence and chop it up into 1000 tiny bits. Each bit is a complete change. Our minds can’t quite keep up with this, but it shows up when you don’t do it.

Often we don’t change. When you don’t change, the “not-change” hangs on. So the movement gets stuck or off balance or out of kilter. The whole is no longer whole, but in two parts. One part static, another part fluid. It feels wrong somehow. Or worse, it feels OK because you can’t feel the part that isn’t changing. You assume something that isn’t true. This now feels normal somehow. Habit creates a sort of blindness and you don’t see or feel your stuck unchanging places. You can fool yourself for a while, but when you get to partner work in push-hands, you will get pushed. We push each other to help each other find our stuck places.

In tai chi, as in life, we deeply need each other to learn what is stuck and how to free it. When you get pushed, the best attitude is one of gratitude. This is not some sort of false piety or humility. How else will you grow? Of course, in the normal course of our human interactions in push-hands, we often get frustrated or angry. Even more amusing, we blame them for doing it wrong when they push us! How backwards we get it. It takes great skill to create a situation to see what is really needed and to appreciate it.

I can recall an interaction when I literally stopped the game and left the “ring” because I was so angry. I really needed a huge change! But so did my partner. In retrospect, thinking about my anger, it amuses me to think how much I enjoy that memory today. I even really love that partner – he’s a lovable person. Yet in that moment, in that context, what he was doing drove me out of the room in anger. Or so I thought. You have to go through certain experiences to find a new change. I couldn’t change then, I simply reacted. Today, the same situation would be totally different. I have a more mature understanding, more options, and I wouldn’t have to flee. I can thank him now for driving me nuts then!

The tai chi space has to be carefully tended so that we can practice in a spirit of mutual cooperation and trust. This is something very delicate to achieve, though it can be done. We need to find the right balance to get it right. In one sense, you are always creating this safe space, a space where real play, and exchange, and change can happen. Generosity of spirit is needed. A lack of being judgmental is needed. Playing the game at the right level needs to be agreed upon. The changes here are very very fine indeed. It is an act of mutually creating a playing space that works for both of you. It takes two to do this.

The point of practicing change goes beyond your physical ability. Clearly it is advantageous to be able to change. Fast, instantly, in a microsecond. Because sometimes life itself is like that. A still body, at rest, has tremendous change due to breathing and blood flow. A static body simply doesn’t exist until it dies.

In a deep way, you have to listen to your body to hear what is stuck, and then you have to let go. You may not even be able to let go. You may not know how to let go. But this fundamental practice, noticing what is stuck and then letting go, is a basic practice in your form and push hands work.

This is what tai chi is about: living, life, fluidity, change. Change is our issue, our blood, our breath. You are not solid, the ground is solid. Even the ground is not solid, but by comparison it is more solid than your body. To be able to change, to practice change, to see change, to have the options that change provides is a high level. It feels right. It creates health, physical as well as mental health. When you give up changing, you begin the process of dying.

Tai chi = Life. This is one of the most primary and deep aspects of practice. Is it not better to be able to change, anywhere, at any time, for any reason, than to not change?

Change is the option always on the table. It’s a good thing to practice.

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