Along the Way

Paula with Blair and Yongli at the 2020 Winter Retreat

As my Tai Chi journey continues with each practice and every class, there is a joy in the subtle discoveries that occur. I can’t force them to happen, of course, but when they do, they’re wonderfully impactful.

Here are three that I’ve experienced between summer 2020 and summer 2021:

The Knees Will Bend: When I initially began my relaxation for Standing Meditation I started with the bending of my knees. When I first learned about bending the knees in Foundations class, more than a decade ago, it felt forced and unnatural so I would bring my attention to my knees before I relaxed the rest of my body.

Some months ago, for whatever reason, I started my relaxation with the abdomen while softening the lower back and at the same time my chest relaxed; lo and behold my knees were bent just the right amount. It seems silly (or slow) that I didn’t make that adjustment years ago! But that’s ok, I so appreciate that I can do it now.

Tuck the Chin: Discovering that my chin jutted out has been a big help. By simply touching my finger to my chin or just moving my head back a very little bit I can quickly check on my alignment as it relates to the head and the Bai Hui. I made this discovery by watching myself on video during Covid. I can’t rely on watching myself on video for all corrections, but I now know it can be helpful at times.

Wait 10 Minutes: This discovery was actually a re-discovery. Experiencing some new stressors in my life, I recently found starting my practice to be difficult because I couldn’t get my mind to settle down, and as a result, I began practicing fewer days. On one particular day when I was practicing under a clear blue sky, and feeling a gentle summer breeze I was irritated with myself for not connecting mind with body, not being relaxed and enjoying my practice as I “should.” BUT, I continued to practice, and then I settled and became more present. It took me nearly 10 minutes to get to where I wanted to be: past the forced physicality.

I forgot what I used to know about myself–that it’s ok to start practice while in my head, or feeling tension in the body and just stick with it for a bit. Be patient with myself and I’ll get there. It can take me 10 minutes or more to get to that place, but it’s ok if I need to be patient with myself!

For those of us that have been doing Tai Chi for a while, the rediscoveries are just as important as the new ones.

Paula Chalk
Qigong and Foundations of Tai Chi Instructor