Monday, 20 October 2008

Why I like Tai Chi

This weekend Gord and I went to a Taoist Tai Chi "Dual Cultivation" Seminar. We have been going to tai chi classes together for just over two years now, and I have learned a lot. There are so many things to learn from tai chi, and this weekend's workshop was a good example of the range of this good stuff.

First of all, there's the satisfaction I get from being able to do something physical that I enjoy. It's strenuous enough to work up a sweat, but slow enough that I don't feel like I'm going to drop dead. It's complicated enough to keep my mind busy, but simple enough that I can just 'go with the flow' and not think at all. And, it's a graceful thing. I'm not particularly gifted in terms of physical activity, so feeling graceful while I'm doing something is a real pleasure for me.

Next, there's the tea and cookies. There are always two pots of green tea on the go during class, and a tin of donated cookies as well. People donate money to the tea fund, or just bring the cookies and tea themselves. Either way, there are always enough tea and cookies for everyone, including any guests or observers that may come by.

Then, there's all the nice people. People bring tea and cookies, but are also just polite and kind to each other. Tai chi seems to bring out the best in everyone. There is never any pressure to do more than you can or want to - everyone is just welcomed.

And, there's the whole idea of "dual cultivation" which we learned more about in this weekend's seminar. This means that tai chi is designed to cultivate health in both the body and the mind. Some martial arts or other sports activities focus on physical activity/prowess as the top priority, but in tai chi both mind and body are recognized as interrelated. Our instructor this weekend emphasized this duality a great deal. He spoke specifically about the fourth aim of the Taoist Tai Chi society, which is to selflessly help others. This is elaborated on in the Taoist Tai Chi website, which says,

The foundation of Taoist Tai Chi Society® internal arts and methods is compassion. Our underlying charitable orientation is in keeping with the Taoist values of selflessness and service to others.

Our inspiration is the example set by our founder, Master Moy Lin-shin, who dedicated his life to helping others without seeking personal gain. For this reason, all our instructors are volunteers, and all our branches operate on a non-profit basis. We also perform other services within the community, and assist other charities whenever possible.

After a good day of vigorous tai chi practice, our instructor ended the seminar by saying that helping others is just as much a part of tai chi as the physical exercises are, and that by getting better at the physical part and the mental part, we are in a better position to do the helping part. And, the helping part puts us in a better frame of mind to learn and practice the physical and mental parts.

And that's the main reason that I really like tai chi: because it not only talks about the interconnection of all things, it actually is a way to live out that interconnection.


Simply Authentic said...

So well put. It sounds wonderful!

Theresa said...

It is wonderful! :)