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 May, 2014

Tai Chi Chuan – The Fabric of Living

Posted By Tom Daly on May 19th, 2014

Tai Chi Chuan – The Fabric of Living

I am recovering from surgery.  The result is that I have to be very aware of EVERYTHING: Where I step, what is on the floor, what is coming my way down the hallway, how to turn around and carefully restrict certain movements, how to place my body weight, what objects are in place at all levels of my own physical space.  Is that paper on the floor cellophane and slippery?  Is there a table top jutting out?

In managing recovery, an image has come to mind.  Stitching, sewing, weaving.  Cloth is made up of many many stitches.  If the cloth is thick, the stitches are horizontal and vertical and ultimately three dimensional.  One could fill any space with cloth-like material, like terry cloth towels stacked on a cupboard.  Each stitch is connected to every other stitch.  If one stitch comes undone, the cloth will begin to tear apart. If I don’t notice some table edge in my path of movement and it runs into my crutch, I may suffer a fall.

It strikes me that tai chi has been good training for this period of repair.  In tai chi, you are deeply aware of space, your internal space, the external space, the connection to all the other players in the room, even the non-players in the room, the floors, the walls, windows, chairs.  You learn to be with all of it and to utilize all of it.  This happens slowly over time, the result of an open awareness.  This attention is not linear.  It is multi-dimensional.  Each stitch in your tai chi cloth is connected to every other stitch.  And you need to be with all stitches.  Actually, and this is what you practice in tai chi, you can’t NOT be with all those stitches.  You have no choice.  All those other stitches are connected to us and we learn to be aware of that connection.

A piece of fabric – the dynamic interplay of many stitches – has a texture.  I see space as having texture; I think we all do: An open space, a tight space, an airy space, a congested space, a dead space, a somber space, a mysterious space, a space that needs fresh air or sunlight, the magnificence of Niagara Falls or The Grand Canyon, the delicate construction of a spider web, the vastness of the ocean, the infinitesimal universe of the human cell, the claustrophobia of the prison cell. 

If I think of space as made up of pieces of cloth that are stitched into my body fabric, then there is only ONE cloth, ONE fabric.  I move, it moves.  It moves, I move.  The molecular and energetic quality of those stitches change as we move from the body to the air to the floor to a light bulb to the next body, but regardless, there is only one fabric, a quilt, a patchwork with its own particular quality.  We work this into the group form by being connected to each and every person doing the form.  We work this into push hands practice where taking and giving up space is in continuous flux.

The value here is a deeper sense of being part of that space.  You use the space and its restrictions to your own advantage, but this is not a manipulative or strategic relationship. It’s making the best use of where you are organically.  Spaciousness is the material we are playing with.  We are playing tug-of-war with the elements in our space, with give and take as part of the game.  You give; you take.  The space yields; the space moves in.  The water molecule moves this way, then that way.  The cloth is moved to the right; the cloth is moved to the left.  All of tai chi is built upon this “game”.  And every stitch within the space has its own weight.

This is a collaborative inclusive relationship to space and in having that, you have greater protection and more options, more freedom.  In tai chi, we don’t “try” to do this because that implies a separation from the space, as if we are in control and shaking out a dusty towel.  This is more like seeing the movement before it happens so that when it comes your way, you have options.  In the ocean, you see the wave coming and you decide whether it’s best to ride the wave or dive under it.  Neither choice disrupts the wave – you pick the best option available at the moment of contact. Nor can you simply leave the water and make no choice at all. 

When my teacher, Maggie Newman, tells us that “one wind” is blowing through our tai chi form, she is getting us to experience the space that lies between us all which connects us and moves us.  We all have a stake in creating this quilt of connection.  The fabric is torn when one of us is out of step or unaware of others; we all feel the tear in the fabric (except for the person who has cut themselves off from the others.)

Connect the fibers and watch the space…. And begin to weave yourself into this quilt that sits before your very eyes.

Zen saying:

Before Enlightenment, chop wood carry water;

After Enlightenment, chop wood carry water.

 

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Tai Chi Chuan – One Way to Solve Your Habit

Posted By Tom Daly on May 19th, 2014

Tai Chi Chuan – One Way to Solve Your Habit

It seems we all contain SOME ACTION where we do the same habit again and again and again.  It never seems to really go away.  Odd isn’t it?  Often, we can even point blank state what that habit is.  Our practice partners point out our habit to us often.  So awareness of the habit isn’t solving the problem.  What could remove this habit?

I have a thought about approaching habits.  It goes like this:  Within the logic of our minds, the habit is there doing something that we think will solve the problem or improve our performance.  So if that is true, take a look at your habit and assume it has some intrinsic benefit.  Assume the habit is there helping you.  What exactly is it doing to help you?  How does it help you?  Look at the habit as something that achieves something positive (even if you know it doesn’t).

My long standing push hands habit is predicting where the partner is going and getting ahead of the movement.  I think by not being there, I am protecting myself.  Certainly they cannot run into me and I am perceived as “soft”.  So my habit has everything to with being invisible.  There is a logic here that appeals to my own sense of what we are trying to do.  If you are not there, you can’t be pushed.  But in reality, I am there and when I predict the movement and leave that space open, it gives my partner something obvious to follow; it gives him/her a push.  It also gives them a gap to fill.  My habit doesn’t work, and the assumption that if I am not there, I am safe, is false.  But I really had to think about this to come to that conclusion.  I needed to look at this habit as if it were solving a problem.

So what is true?  I want to be there in the sense that the space the partner wants to take is being filled by me.  In this way there is no gap.  Further, as they take the space, I give up the space.  But I don’t create a gap.  I am IN the space they want to take.  If they take it, fine; if not, also fine.  This is a new thought for me.  Don’t NOT BE THERE, but in fact BE FULLY THERE.  I am not saying that I am blocking or resisting.  I am saying that I fully inhabit the space that they want to take from me.  In that way, I own the space and it is mine to give away.  My habit runs from the space prematurely and gives them a gap.  By being fully in the space that they want to take, I am fully connected to them at all times.  This feels light years away from the habit.

So try this one out.  Label your habit, look at the benefits, and then look at alternative ways that may be more beneficial.  It can be enlightening.

This is true for life as well.  I have a dear friend who doesn’t think this way.  Her habit is to react to situations with anger.  I suspect she feels she is being true to her feelings and by being in touch with that feeling and letting it go, she is doing herself a service.  But then anger hits her “partner” and the whole thing blows up in her face.  Result?  More anger!  True, sometimes she can’t let that anger out if the relationship is unequal, as in a supervisor.  But in many other situations, her sense of being true to her emotion does not really serve her.  It is very important to be in touch with your emotions.  It is not true that expressing them right here and now will get you what you want.  It often doesn’t.   Her habit is so strong that to look at it in this way is not even an option. 

But it is YOUR option if want it.

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