When I started this blog, I promised to write about how to incorporate t'ai chi into every day life -- walking around, in the house, on an icy sidewalk -- and I haven't kept my word. I've been writing about all kinds of things -- your carrying-the-ball hands, t'ai chi villages in China -- but not about the mundane and for that I apologize.
And I'm going to change that here, when I talk about how to deal, in a t'ai chi way, with stuff lying around on the floor. You may have something that is always there, that you need to walk around, occasionally pick up, maybe curse at it a little. Maybe you've got a small step leading into a room.
In my case, it's Violet, my catahoula leopard dog. She was a rescue, with a sad story, and a very sensitive disposition. How I got her. I had had a couple of catahoulas, and knew and liked this breed, that rumor has it, was developed in Louisiana (There's a parish of Catahoula). It's an impossible, unrecognized, hyper, working- dog dog.
So when I wound up living in New Orleans for a few months, I offered to foster a homeless catahoula and the C rescue network gave me this little feral creature, picked up on the highway, letting me know I could give her back to the rescue system whenever I wanted. She was a terribly behaved dog. She only wanted to scavenge for food, and she'd wake me up at 5:30 barking in my ear, like an inch away, which wasn't hard to interpret. She was saying, 'let's go! time to hit the streets, find something to eat!' In frustration at my lethargy, she nibbled on my shoes (every LAST one) and then the carpet, as well as the box spring. Using the outdoors for her 'business' wasn't part of her knowledge base. Gone was my security deposit.
Eventually I adopted her (who would put up with her?) But I learned gradually that -- like many creatures who've had a rough beginning to life -- she's sensitive, and unable to handle adversity well. So when she lies down for the night, blocking the entire hallway, I can't bring myself to wake her up and yell at her to move. Al, my partner, curses, but affectionately, and he too can't ask her to move. So over the years we've developed ways of stepping over her.
Here's a small video of what happens when I reach Violet en route to the kitchen or bathroom.
You may notice... I move as slowly as I can, knees bent a bit, angle my front foot out slightly, maybe at a 15 degree angle, and step O V E R her, as slowly and deliberately as I can. You want your weight to be on the outside of the foot. This helps enormously with balance. You'll be just like one of those storks who can stand on one leg in a stream without breaking a sweat, I promise you. Remember to keep your back straight, eyes straight ahead!
Once you feel comfortable with this and you want to add something of a challenge, you can try lifting your legs bit higher, or try slowing down even more. But these are advanced walking skills. Def don't worry about high knees or excessive slowness at the beginning.
I believe that by stepping over stuff lying around, your apartment or house can be a source of t'ai chi walks, non-boring balance drills and just good t'ai chi habits.
What if you don't have a hyper-sensitive, lazy dog? I thought you might ask. If you don't want to get one, you can arrange something to step over, something soft, not too heavy -- say, a small pile of dirty laundry or a thick novel, maybe a pillow. You'll think of something...
I'll try to stick to this subject for the next few posts -- how the little hardships, maybe even some of the biggies, can be aids in developing a t'ai approach to things.
Please don't feel shy about posting about your own experience.
Until then, jing (tranquility),