16 September 2012
attention, chi, deliberateness, focus, tai chi
I got interrupted several times this morning during the tai chi routine. First I became aware of an extended conversation of the porch of the house where I’m staying. At the end of Five Golden Coins I joined that conversation for a while; then I came inside and did Eight Pieces of Silk. Then I rejoined the porch conversation for a while, then I did the form.
The change in intensity definitely shifted the quality of the energy I raised. Usually I can feel the blood pumping in my arteries and feel my chest heaving with a good, intense, tai chi workout. There’s a flow of forces through me that’s startling.
When I interrupt the program, though, it’s hard to reach that level of intensity. So there’s a definite risk to interrupting the program, above and beyond the risk of just stopping after one part and not getting back to the rest of the form.
So on the one hand I’m pleased that I was able to muster the willpower to do the three bits even with interruptions. On the other hand, its nice to discover that I really do need to do the three forms together if I want to do some energy work.
6 August 2012
chi, daily practice, design, discipline, focus, tai chi
This morning I had difficulty getting up and getting started. The house where I’m staying had a messy kitchen this morning, there was a young kid looking for breakfast, and one of the families staying here for a family reunion was trying to pack up and go on a long day trip.
I found myself doing the tai chi forms while people wandered through the room, around me. Some questions about what I was doing. Then others asked questions about what I was doing later today, about whether I wanted coffee or breakfast, or what my plans were for later in the day, or whether I wanted to be part of a project or not… I was asked whether I’d seen one child or another, or if such and such a person had passed through, or if I was in line for the bathroom. I answered the questions with as much grace and goodwill as I could, and did the form as best I could.
Under the circumstances, the “best I could do” was not very good at all. I lost my place, made mistakes, dropped steps and postures, lost count of repetitions, and more. Difficult, at best. Some days, of course, the form almost does itself. Some mornings, like today, it’s almost impossible to get anything done.
I think the critical thing is completion, though. Without feeling like you’ve completed the work for the day, you’re lost. With completion, good or bad doesn’t matter. There’s always tomorrow. Whiteout completion, though, you must begin again. With completion, you must begin again tomorrow, either for better or worse — but at least you begin tomorrow with the knowledge that no excuses sufficed for today.
29 July 2012
building muscle, chi, daily practice, energy, focus
I did tai chi my usual way today: in the living room, right after my first bathroom visit of the day — five golden coins, eight pieces of silk, and the form. Even after almost 150 days, some days, like today, I feel like a cheater. This is not heavy exercise; it’s a little bit of stretching and a little bit of movement to start my day. It’s not much more than that. It rarely takes me a halfhour. I’m just not that slow at doing this yet.
But the lights are off, and the curtains in the living room are partly drawn, and it’s early morning. Shadows are thick this morning, and everyone else is asleep. As my arms twist into the punches of Punch down with angry face, it’s hard not to notice the thickening cables of muscle in my arms, the way shadows fall into nooks and crannies that weren’t there six months ago.
Oh, no doubt. I’m no hardbody of the Men’s Olympic gymnastics team. But I have defined biceps and triceps now, and pockets of fat in my arms are melting away like Antarctic pack ice — slowly enough that it’s difficult to notice; fast enough that people who haven’t seen me in a while notice remarkable change.
I could wish that it was faster. I could wish that it was easier. I could wish for immediate dietary fixes, too. Oh well. It is what it is — a slow process of deliberate change, powered by my own reluctant rising from bed to do the forms in the early-dawn light.
22 July 2012
chi, daily practice, energy, focus, taiji
Today’s tai chi practice was nothing special. No portals opened to new dimensions, no particular insights revealed themselves with heavenly choirs. I just realized I was comfortable in my skin. This may sound ridiculous. Of course you’re comfortable in your skin. but most of the time I’m not. So it’s startling to me that I am.
Except I said, there weren’t any great insights today. There weren’t. It wasn’t like I was comfortable in my skin today, and I wasn’t yesterday. The shift wasn’t that startling. I can’t point to any moment in the past when I wasn’t comfortable in my skin, and knew it, and a day when everything changed, and then I was comfortable in that same skin. There’s just an awareness that today I’m comfortable in the skin I have, and that it’s been this way for a long time. Nothing special. No great insight or new dimensions of practice. Just the way it is.
11 May 2012
chi, discipline, energy, focus, taiji
Yesterday was a crazy day in more ways than one. I didn’t get much sleep, even though I’ve been working quite hard at getting more sleep. I was pretty strongly tempted to roll over and sleep for another hour.
I didn’t. I got up, did Five Golden Coins and the taiji form. And now I’m getting ready for the fifth or sixth crazy day in a row, of maybe twelve or possibly fifteen such days. Welcome to the end of school mad-cap whirlwind whirligig!
But as you may have surmised, I didn’t do Eight Pieces of Silk. Something had to give ground this morning, and that’s going to be it. When I’m learning a new style or a new form, it takes quite a long time to flip back and forth between video, notes, and diagrams. Not gonna do it, wouldn’t be prudent, etc.
Sometimes old business takes priority over new business. Today is one of those days. But just because I’m not learning eight pieces of silk, doesn’t mean I’m throwing away two months of practice. Keep to the routine.