Tuesday, January 15, 2013
Third Week of 52...T'ai Chi Ch'uan
I've chosen my new experience for the third week of the 52s: T'ai Chi Ch'uan.
Having spent many years practicing--and enjoying--yoga, I'm trying something different, a new discipline for me that uses leverage through the joints, rather than tension in the muscles. The beauty of t'ai chi is that concentrating the mind completely on the movements brings mental calm and clarity. In other words: meditation through form.
I tried t'ai chi once, but it was too slow for me back then, I was always on the go, always ready and willing to dash off somewhere at a moment's notice. I preferred yoga, with the muscle work, the sweat factor. You have to sweat to truly be working out, everyone knows that, right? Besides, the image I had of t'ai chi was invariably of old Chinese folks waving their hands in slo-mo, hardly moving their bodies, not a drop of sweat to be seen. That surely couldn't be a real workout.
Imagine my surprise last night when I realized I had inadvertently recorded the wrong PBS program, instead taping a show on the philosophy and practice of T'ai Chi Ch'uan. (Though why that surprised me is...well...surprising; I don't believe in coincidence). So, instead of just deleting the mistaken program, I watched it, curious to see if there was a message in there somewhere.
Within moments, I knew this was exactly what I was looking for. I don't need the muscle workout from yoga, I need the focus and meditation from t'ai chi. And lest anyone imagine this is just an exercise technique for old Chinese people...you would be as wrong as I was. The movements are not only to strengthen the mind, but to enhance hand and weapons routines; you know, in case you have to fight off the rebel hordes as one of the Emperor's warriors.
The clincher for me--and yes, I listen to signs like this--one of the movements shown on the program was called Daughter on the Mountaintop. Come on. Really? I actually burst out laughing. I don't need to be hit over the head to get it.
This afternoon I begin. And I will be smiling, because I have become one with those old Chinese people, moving gently, soft and pliable, as my body dances and my mind settles.
The Universe provides. We just have to be paying attention.