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 April, 2016

Tai Chi Chuan – A Meaningful Activity or an Activity with Meaning?

Posted By Tom Daly on April 25th, 2016

Tai Chi Chuan – A Meaningful Activity or an Activity with Meaning?

Is the value in tai chi the meaning you bring to it? Or is it meaningful by virtue of the experience that happens as you participate.

I think of a friend of mine, Ted, who clearly feels his time is best spent with activities that HAVE meaning.  Teaching, protesting, volunteerism, making money so you can support a worthy cause, and so forth.  All of these have meaning and some activities carry the meaning along with them.

The other end of spectrum is that meaning arrives purely from being IN the activity itself and bursts forth out of the activity.  Some of these may appear to be a waste of time.  Meditating, balancing the checkbook, watching a silly TV show, reading a book for pleasure on the beach, hangin’ out in a bar, or just lying on the beach (no book in sight, just getting a tan).

Tai chi crosses both areas. In one sense, it is good for health, may promote a community of likeminded individuals, may give you a martial art, or a sense of relaxation and centeredness that balances out the rest of your life.  You now have a practice that brings something meaningful that you want in life. In this regard, it has meaning. External meaning. You read about it, or a friend tells you of the benefits and you want that in your life.

Or it is just there and you participate to see what happens next.  No intrinsic meaning. Just because. Curiosity. And whatever happens happens. No manipulation, no fantasy, no desire to prove yourself or compare yourself to others. Following for the sake of following. Tai chi reveals itself to you. In this regard, it has meaning. Internal meaning. You don’t know all that much about it, but through the process of working on it, it brings some unexpected benefit to your life.

Of course, tai chi is both.  One can get in the way of the other. Or one can encourage the other.

The external approach can lead to fantasy; the internal approach can lead to self indulgence.

The external approach can motivate; the internal approach can be a deeply satisfying work of creativity.

So I often wonder why you (or I) practice tai chi.

 

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Tai Chi Chuan – Doing It Your Way!

Posted By Tom Daly on April 25th, 2016

Tai Chi Chuan – Doing It Your Way?

I have run into a pattern in students. Many of them really think they know what they need in order to learn tai chi.  What exercises “work”, what type of exercise, how the class should go, what mix of instruction works and so forth.  They decide a certain exercise is a waste of time, but another one is invaluable.  If they find another one confusing or difficult, no need to waste any time on it. Best to get back to their comfort zone and do it their way.

It’s sad to say but the best thing to do is pay attention and try to do your best, regardless of the exercise. Yep, it is that simple and that difficult.

Don’t decide what is good and not good, right and wrong, helpful or not helpful. It is stunning that some students approach class as if they KNOW what they need. If the exercise is deemed unworthy (too simple, not really about tai chi, too difficult) they pass it by.  Not only do they pass up an opportunity to try something new or challenging, but they pass by a possibility of LEARNING something NEW.  It is BECAUSE it is hard, or simple, or seemingly not what they think it should be that it may have tremendous value. And you will never know unless you put your heart and soul into it, in this moment. And even if the moment fails you, that success doesn’t happen NOW, it may come back to enlighten you another time.  There is no wasted time in keeping at it in tai chi class.

The only wasted time is when you have decided that you don’t have to work at this moment, this exercise, this movement, that you don’t have to pay attention, or work at it.

I have been guilty of the same.  Maggie would have us do something over and over and over and yes, sometimes I’d think “what a waste of time.”  But I did it anyway, as best I could.  Then a few days later a light bulb would go off, and WOW, I get what that was all about.  And I learned something new.

I have to admit, my behavior at times was not helpful in class.  I went through a period as Maggie’s assistant that I felt I had heard her words so many times that I didn’t need to listen any more. So I would go to the side of the class and start to talk to someone about something else. Maggie noticed.  But for some reason, she never called me on it. Why, I really don’t know. It finally dawned on me that just being still and listening to her thoughts one more time was less disruptive to her, and a new discipline that I needed to conquer. You never know how the lesson might strike you on repeat # 134. You just don’t know…

It’s what you don’t want to do that often gives you the greatest lesson.  This mindlessly simple exercise may hold the key.  This confusing sequence may ultimately build that muscle of concentration merely by keeping at it.

It is rarely easy this thing called tai chi.  It is rarely simple.  And often what we don’t like is what we really need.

And the oddity of all this is that a student is in class to learn.  Since when is learning about what you already know or feel good about? It’s the challenge in facing what you don’t know that truly makes you grow. It’s not whether the result you want emerges, it’s all about the effort you put into it. That’s tai chi!

I often tell students that even bad practice is good practice.  Why? Because the effort to engage with something difficult will always pay off. No one begins tai chi “getting it”.  Most of us flounder and sometimes flounder for years before something clicks.

Essentially, I am talking about resistance. In many forms. Resistance can be an insistence that this exercise doesn’t help, won’t work, it is useless, it is not entertaining, it is physically too demanding, I don’t have a natural skill set working for me here, my physical limitations prevent me from learning this, and so forth.

In tai chi, we are working on letting resistance go. And sometimes the only way to do that is to get even more involved in the task at hand: not involving yourself in the belief that you KNOW this isn’t going to help before you stick with it and see what happens.

Look, I have Irish genes.  We are famous for being stubborn. Resistance is practically my middle name! Why do you think we are called the “Fighting Irish”?

I recall a very good student saying that once she gave up trying to “get it”, class time opened up and was far more gratifying and valuable.  The resistance? It was thinking that if you don’t “get” something, you are wasting your time.

One way to “get” but not try to get is to just “be” with the exercise. Let it do YOU. Follow without effort or desire for result.

This is more than just “go along to get along”. It’s more along the lines of you have to “be in it to win it.” (Can you tell I like Hallmark cards?)

There will always be challenges that elude you. And a life full of constant effort is not a good way to live. We do need our comfort time. It’s important. But keep in mind that in a tai chi class, you also need a patient determination and trust that your efforts will help.

Do you know how some people feel when they don’t resist? They feel like they don’t exist.

Our tendency to resist is so deep, hard to see, hard to overcome. It can feel like life itself.

Others find freedom when they don’t resist.

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Tai Chi Chuan – Like Learning to Play an Instrument By Ear

Posted By Tom Daly on April 9th, 2016

This article reminds me of tai chi in so many ways.  Worth a careful read!

Tom

www.nytimes.com/2016/04/10/magazine/learning-to-play-by-ear-in-iran.html?ref=world&_r=0

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