Skip to main content

When stuff is lying around on the floor

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.

Eventually I realized she's a perfect t'ai chi trainer.   She lies absolutely still, not moving a whisker.   On her side, she's several inches high, though I step over her legs which she keeps extended straight out, as though she's just fallen over, legs still ready for standing.   And if I make a mistake there will be yowls of complaint.  Exactly what you want.  

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),

~  Susan


  1. wonderful foot placement in your gate!

    1. Thanks, Stuart! Coming from you that's saying something


Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

ruminations on posture

Standing with head gently erect, eyes straight ahead.  Why is it so hard?   
Wherever you take a t’ai chi class,  from whichever teacher in whatever town or village in the world, you will hear at some point,  imagine a long thread,  stretching from the crown of your head, to the sky.    it’s almost always something I say at the beginning of each class (after all the other postural instructions, starting from the feet).     
it’s quite an image,  though,  your crown attached umbilically to the heavens,  and we may struggle a bit trying to visualize it, let alone to enact, and then to stay like this throughout the one hour class!   Don’t feel discouraged.  Almost no-one can manage it.  I tell my class that it’s probably the hardest part of the pose and the form — keeping your eyes focused ahead, your head relaxed on the stem of your neck.   
does anyone really do it?

Here's one example of a woman found in Prospect Park, striding purposefully, with great joy, head held implausibly erect.…

Maiden Post

Hello everyone,   this is my maiden post for this new blog.  What's it supposed to be or do?   I hope that we engage on some of the applied lessons of t'ai chi -- find examples and stories from our daily lives where t'ai chi can come in handy.  I will try to catch them in my web-mind to save for posting, or keep my ears peeled for others' stories and welcome you to do the same.

I'll also post my weekly class schedule, for students of mine, in and around Brooklyn.

Fall classes this month

 The week of Oct. 15,  2018

Class, Wednesday, OCT 17, class is on

            Thursday, Sept 18  at Spoke the Hub is on

Please note...Friday classes will be cancelled for the foreseeable future 

where:  spoke the Hub, 748 Union Street
              By train, the R to Union or the 2,3 to Grand Army Plaza

Hope to see you soon!  

Just posted a new entry on this blog,  "Ruminations on Posture"  Check it out!

Check out this addition  (a link to an article put out by the Harvard Gazette…