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 September, 2013

Tai Chi Chuan – Connections

Posted By Tom Daly on September 10th, 2013

Tai Chi Chuan – Connections

It’s really important to connect to something outside of you.  Tai Chi training is very much about connecting to something outside of you. 

We follow each other.  We follow our partners in push hands.  We are connecting to heaven and earth and air during the form.  Hey, if you feel like it, connect your form to the universe!

All of that internal work amounts to little if we can’t let it engage with the outer world.  It is one HUGE listening exercise.  My teacher, Maggie Newman, often has us just listen to the sounds as they pass through.  This is a very profound way of being in the world.  We don’t shut it out.  We let it in.  We get close to it.  We connect.  It is a part of us.  Sound is a good place to start because we are wired to be one with sound.

As a martial art, this is an obvious choice.  How else could you defend yourself without connecting with the outer world?

Tai chi takes this a step further.  “Shadow boxing”.  We are so fused with the attacker that there is no real separation between you and the opponent.   He/She is not a “that.”  He/She along with me becomes an “us.”  Opponent + Me = 1.  Not 2. 

It’s a healthy perspective to view the other – regardless of how you feel about them – as an “us.”  The important part is not where you separate; the important part is where you merge.  Focus on the connection.  That way, the places that don’t easily connect can be more readily addressed.  No one loses their center, gets tense or feels defensive.

Yes, this may not be possible at all times with all people.  But it’s a good place to start.  It will help you keep your balance, your ground, your internal space.

Have you connected to someone or something outside of yourself today?

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Tai Chi Chuan – Opera and Patience

Posted By Tom Daly on September 2nd, 2013

Tai Chi Chuan – Opera and Patience

I have discussed this before, but here goes!

I just lent a musically savvy friend a copy of Britten’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream.  It’s a great work.  My musical friend gave it a real try, but he missed 95% of it.  Like, it mostly didn’t register.

I was a fan of the Mozart operas because I was so familiar with the Mozart sound, which I loved.  I became interested in opera and La Boheme (due to the popularity of Rent) in particular.  Another friend recommended a great recording of La Boheme to buy and listen to.  I recall first hearing the beloved Puccini masterpiece and scratching my head.  What on earth did ANYONE hear in this work?  I heard one song that grabbed my attention but the rest, unlike Mozart, seemed meandering and even non-melodic.  Can you imagine anyone thinking Puccini as non-melodic?  Puccini critics find him to be too melodic, almost pandering to the lowest popular instincts, much like an Andrew Lloyd Weber musical.  My friend encouraged me to keep listening.  I did, and finally I was struck by what it is you are listening to when you listen to Puccini. I fell in love.

The issue here is not whether I liked or disliked the composer.  My point here is that what I was comfortable with did not easily transfer into a different musical sensibility.  The issue was I couldn’t even hear what others found appealing (regardless of my own feeling.)  Mozart is crisp and punchy, with a sort of zest that moves the opera forward.  Puccini has long leisurely lines of melody and the orchestra gives the work forward movement, often referring to earlier motifs as points of reference.  Some Puccini melodies are clean and identifiable and often rapturous.  But other sections are just as compelling and dramatic as characters talk to each other and move the plot forward.  Two famous arias in La Boheme are sort of lyrical monologues that seem to have no solid melody at all, relying on motif style delivery.

And then there is Wagner.  Etc.

How I found a love of Britten, I don’t recall.  He is oblique with a subtle mix of dissonance and lyricism.  Dialogues emerge into full motifs but it is hard to trace the development unless you are very familiar with the piece.  He can be direct, but more often he is very indirect.  It is a thrilling musical language.  It took me years before I could appreciate his opera The Turn of the Screw, many consider to be a masterpiece.

Curiosity of one sort or other kept me engaged.  What do others hear in this work?  What is the composer doing?  With Britten, questions still linger and those questions keep me coming back for more.  What is Britten up to in these long meandering passages from Oberon, king of the fairies, with his oddly eerie countertenor voice?

And so it is with tai chi.  What you see on day one is but a fraction of where you might go if you take it up as a practice.  Initially, practice is just an act of remembering what you were taught.  The real core of tai chi is far off.  Each student connects to it from a different angle.  Each student finds a path based on who they are.  Curiosity is required, and so is persistence and patience.  And it changes along the way – something that most students don’t really expect.  Yes, students expect to see improvement and “get better”, but change is a completely different issue.  It is ONLY by keeping engaged that the changes appear.

Often students arrive on day one, take a peak, draw a conclusion, and decide this is not for them.  What they don’t know is that they really need about 50 lessons to make that decision.  Something has to give them faith that there is something here that may be useful in life.  In tai chi, it doesn’t happen quickly, certainly not on day one.

There is another kind of student who also quickly leaves tai chi.  These students are extremely enthusiastic, think they see the value, love to practice, and begin to wear T shirts with Yin-Yang emblems or Chinese characters.  That is, there is a huge fantasy going on and when that fantasy is disappointed, they quit.  It takes more than fantasy to keep you going.

I myself was bored but knew I needed to practice.  I would tell myself that I only needed to do the first move and then I could stop if I felt like it.  But that first move got me going and I never failed to continue with the day’s practice.

I get a kick out of telling people I love Britten operas.  He’s sophisticated and my ego enjoys displaying my refined sensibility. I know I’m being snobby.  Mostly Britten operas are unknown, misunderstood and even derided.   I’m so esoteric, right? 

But I dislike telling people that I do tai chi.  I know the reference system for most people has nothing to do with what tai chi is about or what it offers.  There can be no real discussion here because tai chi is complex and most people have a very limited ability to see what it is.  Because it is complex, they usually don’t care to know.

I could talk a long time about tai chi, but I’d rather talk about the operas of Benjamin Britten – my ego gets a charge. 

Britten operas and tai chi take time to experience.

Both are complex.

Both are deep.

Both are thrilling.

 

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