This is a blog about t'ai chi, specifically how we can apply the teachings of this ancient practice to our contemporary lives. How do we navigate an icy sidewalk? What is the best posture for that dreaded job interview? There are the eternal problems, of course, of back pain and creaky knees. My intention is to have a place to share ideas about t'ai chi methods of caring for our spirits and bodies in today's complicated world.
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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. 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. A teaching: Hawkes, my erstwhile teacher, would tell us, you can kill with your eyes! You can't though if your eyes are cast down, searching the floor. Kill with your eyes.
out on a limb
What makes it hard to hold our heads up and aim our eyes like daggers, fiercely , yet calmly enough to slay an opponent? I'm not sure I know. But I do know that it's very common for my students, as we go through our qi gong exercises, to let their heads begin to droop and face the floor as though there are jewels enbedded in the floor boards. In addition to some ill-defined concerns about their t'ai foot positioning, my students are engaging in a gesture that says don’t bother me!
Here's the perfectly executed t'ai chi head -- it's not a lofty posture, there's a bit of relaxed neck in it, there's the tiniest downward slant, as though Master Cheng were watching a boat out on an imaginary horizon. But you'll see -- Master Cheng's eyes are focused straight ahead.
Cheng Man Chi’ing -- founder of the Yang short form
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.
The week of December 17, 2018
This week's classes are cancelled. (The teacher is out of town) CLASSES RESUME THE WEEK OF JAN 13TH. Looking forward to seeing you soon! WED, JAN 16, next classwhere: Union Dance, 725 Union St. (buzzer 5) The studio is in the lower floor, which you'll find at the end of the long entry hallway. At the end, take a slight jog to the right and follow the corridor down the flight of stairs.
Thursday, JAN 17 at Spoke the Hub is on, 11:15, but come for 11. See below for details where: Spoke the Hub, 748 Union Stree…
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,…