Yesterday Gord and I were at our Taoist Tai Chi class again, and we were working on some really basic stuff, like getting our hips and shoulders and bellybuttons all facing the same direction when we are doing each of the moves. At one point the instructor, Paul, was showing Gord a slight correction so his alignment was properly 'square.' (I am not always 'square' with my alignment either, but Gord was in the front row this time and so he was easily spotted for correction by Paul.) There was some humourous talk about bellybuttons and after the class Gord mentioned to me that he thought his hip problems from when he was a kid (Legge-Perthe's syndrome) that were preventing his hips from being able to move into a properly square position. I suggested he let Paul know about that and he went to talk to him.
Getting to the point: Paul then started talking to Gord and a few others of us who stayed after class about a bunch of things, like how everyone becomes more flexible and more able to relax at a different rate, and how we never really know when our bodies and minds will be able to do something we haven't done before, but that the best way to foster this process was to ensure that all of our body parts and joints were in the alignment most conducive to relaxation and stretching.
When he said that, about alignment, I had this sudden thought in my head: everything is about proper alignment, not just tai chi moves. Relationships in particular: relationships with ourselves, with others, and with all aspects of our environment. If things aren't properly aligned, there won't be any balance harmony or connection with those things.
Paul also talked about how we can't force our muscles to stretch or relax, because as soon as you do, the muscle's tendency is to contract instead. The same principle applies to life, personally and collectively. He also said that words just can't really convey this idea very well, which is probably why I can't get the idea across as well as I'd like. It has to be experienced.
There was one point yesterday when I was listening to all this that I nearly started to cry because it was all so profound.
Editor's Column: As Published in Norwich Gazette (5)
15 hours ago