Saturday, March 21, 2009

Mind over Matter - my battle with Tai Chi

Mind over Matter, originally uploaded by Paul-G.

I am one of the (seriously) least coordinated individuals without a physical disability you will meet. This is in part because I am inherently inflexible (physically), barely able to reach my knees, no less my toes, and in part because I am by nature highly impatient. I never learned to dance both because I was never agile enough to make it look good,and because I would give up on the moves quickly when they didn't come naturally or quickly. I frustrate easily -- which is why more solitary pursuits tend to suit me best.

A month ago we started, for the second time, a beginner's Tai Chi class. Both of us need the discipline of a regular exercise program, and we have seen in our friends the physical and mental benefits of a consistent Tai Chi practice. The first time around (about two years ago) I frustrated out after less than a month when, as with dance, I couldn't string the subtle, slow movements together quickly enough to suit myself. This time seems to be different, so far... we have a much more patient, intuitive, and helpful teacher. She is helping me to learn that the secrets of Tai Chi are not in your muscles, but in your brain. Learning to let go of your expectations, of rigid expectations of immediate success and gratification -- learning to relax and let it happen, has made an amazing difference. This morning, after four weeks I was able to come home and take myself through the 17 moves of the "starter set". Very satisfying, confidence building, relaxing and stimulating at the same time.

So wish me luck -- the full set we are learning is 102 consecutive, connected moves. Simplification of thought is the goal. Let the body learn and remember, and the ultimate benefits spread to every sector of your life... simple.

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