The Dragon's Head Blog: A Sense of Wellbeing, Gratitude and Calm
For me, on an uneven lawn I laboured to keep balance and to utilise the area available but persisted because I felt I HAD to do it each day. Then for health reasons it was decided for me to let go and rest up a while. Then recently one afternoon I found the porch area to try using the flat floor. I did the set very slowly, deliberately, being more conscious of the moves and the benefits my body was getting from being aware of the benefits I was receiving, both physically and especially mentally. At the end of the set there was sense of relief, satisfaction and pleasure that I had not experienced earlier. Slow is wonderful. Thank you Master Moy.
I wondered at the beginning whether I would have the motivation or the discipline to do daily practice, but as it has turned out, I rarely miss doing the foundations, tor-yus, dan-yus, and a set – usually outside in the garden. Aside from a very pesky fantail bird, there are no distractions which makes it so much easier to let my mind drift, even to the point of utterly losing where I am going and having to repeat whole sections of the set. It all feels softer, and less effortful, leaving me with a lovely feeling of stillness and contentment – even when I have messed up! There is no pressure to pay attention to anyone else, just to enjoy being alone in my body and feeling whatever is going on without any judgement.
Jess my dog always chews her bone when I do tai chi outside. Recently when I was standing at the end of a set she came and pushed her head up into my hand. She stood there quite still for a long time. This is unusual because she usually fusses and pushes with her nose when she wants attention. She has done this quiet thing a few times now. I don’t know what she is feeling but for me it feels good just to stand together.
When the country went into lockdown, I joined a Zoom chat which advised us to go deeper with our Tai Chi as we practised in isolation. I thought to myself that it might work for instructors and some others, but it wouldn’t work for most of us. How wrong I was, and how pleased I am that I decided to attempt a set on the deck every day. I have enjoyed working on a very, very slow set and feel that after five weeks my balance has improved, and I can actually hold a move for a second or two without wobbling or falling into the next move.
Leaves rustling, birds chirping, phone propped on rubbish bin, MULTIPLE TAKES – that photo shows me sometimes I do Tai Chi with my eyes closed, that photo shows me sometimes I hunch, that photo shows me sometimes I don’t finish the move, that photo shows me sometimes I don’t smile … more things to ponder as I do my Tai Chi in lockdown. And on another note I have discovered a real enjoyment of chanting twice a week since I’ve been in lockdown – and my asthma has significantly reduced.
Although I’ve missed the class experience I’m also fascinated about the daily reflective practice that my tai chi has become. After a walk around my local park I settle to foundations then a set and sometimes a little Lok Hup Ba Fa. My set feels more fluid and less ‘thought’, definitely softer. I’m enjoying the sense of release and opening. I’ve gained a new daily habit that I never would have attempted before, being public.
Solo Tai-Chi. I do it on the sloping driveway facing away from the setting sun. I do it in sections on the tile floor after moving table and chairs. I do it on the grass in the back garden and in the local park. I do it on the patio facing the fiery black and red clouds of dawn. I do it slowly. Or fast, to fit it in before the day has fled into night again. I just do it. I miss out chunks. I get caught in a repeating loop. I can feel relaxed, invigorated, challenged, meditative, distracted, wobbly, stable, curious …. all in one set. So I just do it every day and I am never bored. NEVER BORED!
When we started our country-wide lockdown, it was a case of “tai chi cold turkey” for me. I really miss the communal and social aspects of gathering together. However after a day or two I got going with outdoor sessions. Fascinating that the external quietness and slowing down has helped foster the internal stillness and clarity that we so often strive for – if we just slow down and stop striving so hard, it just comes! Enjoying repeating moves and finding out more and more. I think the sense of wellbeing, gratitude and calm has been my most interesting find. But I still miss everybody!!