meditation

It occurs to me that the learning which takes place in a class is very different to that which we experience practicing alone – both are important but we tend to prioritise the class or one to one tutorial because we see that as a “proper learning” environment – after all if we are being taught then that means we must be learning – right?

Not necessarily – practising alone for long periods – that is the “in the wilderness” part – is vital to allow our subconscious body/mind to sort out the pieces and to develop new patterns in a kind of meditation – making sense of what we already know without the confusion of taking in new material all the time. It allows us to consolidate everything we have learned to date and understand the truth of that old saying that ” the whole is greater than the sum of  its parts”

This lockdown has enforced a period in the wilderness for all of us – and I for one have found it beneficial – so please embrace the alone time and be at ease with the wilderness.

We often associate meditation – especially Buddhist mind emptying – with Tai Chi and now when we are forced to practice on our own it is a good opportunity to explore meditation as an aid to our movement.

Let us consider for a moment watching the birds in our garden or lemurs on a nature program – do they think analytically/intellectually/consciously about how they fly between the branches or swing from one to another? Our conscious mind is a great advantage when we have the time to use it but when negotiating branches or when enmeshed in a fight we simply do not have time for conscious thought – we need to release ourselves from our consciousness simply in order to do some things at all.

If the ape considered carefully whether the next jump was possible it would simply be too late and they would probably get it wrong.

The time for conscious thought is in exploring carefully – like doing lots of training runs before going for the best possible version.

So with that in mind let us by all means practice at a glacially slow pace – but then occasionally speed up and practice fast – fast enough so that your conscious mind cannot keep up – and then go faster to find out where your movement breaks down.

Shefford Tai Chi Festival

We had a brilliant day again this year – despite the weather many more people came than last year and lots stayed for the whole day – we were delighted to see everybody. There was a lot of interest in all the classes starting with Tai Chi exercises to loosen up the body and a seated Zen meditation session to calm and connect both mind and body.

Shefford Tai Chi demonstration

Shefford Tai Chi demonstration

 

The first guest presentation was from the ENSO Jujitsu group based in Clifton and headed by Lee Alexander, who showed us a variety of exercises and self-defence techniques with flowing movement and exciting throws including a female student taking on a series of attacks from the rest of the class. Visitors were encouraged to join in some partner work and experience the effectiveness of Jujitsu for themselves. There was a lot of enthusiasm and some laughter as everybody worked together co-operatively to learn these techniques.

Jujitsu demonstration

Jujitsu demonstration

Ian Deavin then took a beginners Tai Chi class incorporating standing exercises and slow walking – the sort of activities that the Monday afternoon and Sunday evening classes regularly use to develop relaxation, balance and mobility and which are excellent for falls prevention in people over 50.

Massage and Aromatherapy consultation

Massage and Aromatherapy consultation

By this point in the day the hall was quite full with many people sitting or standing with tea and cake while they appreciated the activities in the display area. Visitors were also able to visit the presentation booths for Massage/Aromatherapy with Tom Rigby who was giving free tasters all day and to discuss reading matter with Joy Lakin from Shefford Library, who presented a selection of books related to the day’s activities – and lending them out to visitors who had their library cards with them.

Shefford Library presentation

Shefford Library presentation

Ian’s original and inspiring Alexander Technique teacher – Eileen Johnson took a group through postural work addressing their primary control of the head and neck leading to relaxed posture and use of the body. Eileen used hands-on touch to adjust each person – and the group was encouraged to adjust their own posture in simple movement.

Group doing Alexander Technique

Group doing Alexander Technique

More Tai Chi from Ian who sought to explain something of the history of Tai Chi and the way it is good for both health and for martial arts – the first thing that Tai Chi seeks to do is to develop a healthy body with relaxed posture and movement – these are the basic principles. This can then be used to aid movement in daily life and if the student wishes then they can progress further towards the martial aspects.

A demonstration of Wing Chun was next on the program – from the William Wong Wing Chun Academy in Shefford who displayed a range of exercises and patterns with students across the age range from young to mature. Finally featuring a young student doing a solo pattern to the delight of the audience. This breadth of relevance whatever age was a continuing theme of the day across all classes.

Wing Chun demonstration

Wing Chun demonstration

A much anticipated set was the Taekwondo demonstration by Instructor Tom Delve of the Shefford Taekwondo group – he and his class showed powerful martial patterns with punches and blocks and included a display of young students which drew much appreciation from the crowd – this finally culminated in a show of brick breaking by the instructor and his senior students, which had us all urging them on and applauding.

Performance of Taekwondo pattern

Performance of Taekwondo pattern

Ian took a further session of Tai Chi where he discussed the way that Natural Movement with relaxed good posture forms the basis for good martial techniques – taking standing exercise into walking and into light co-operative partner work. Ian demonstrated both the traditional slow hands free Tai Chi form and a brief but fast Broadsword form which he and senior students practice on Sunday evenings.

Tai Chi demo class

Tai Chi demo class

Tai Chi broad sword demonstration

Tai Chi broad sword demonstration

No health and fitness day would be complete without a Yoga class – which was taken by teacher  Rick Nunn from 9-Energy Natural Expression  – even at the end of the day there were many people still up for joining in with this excellent class which proved challenging and fun. There was even a little friendly competitive spirit expressed by some of the participants who had stayed from the morning and were still looking to enjoy themselves with healthy movement. Rick’s sense of humour in this shared learning environment was appreciated by us all.

Yoga demonstration class

Yoga demonstration class

The day closed off with more Tai Chi from Ian who took the class through walking backwards and how it related to balance and natural movement with a little more of the martial aspect.

Home baked cakes with tea, coffee and squashes were provided free throughout the day by the Shefford Tai Chi group – with donations for charity collected at the counter which finally totalled £110 – going equally to the World Wide Fund for Nature and Hitchin homeless.

refreshments

refreshments

Our grateful thanks go to the many volunteers from Shefford Tai Chi who gave their time (and cakes!) to making this annual free community event such a success.

Shefford Tai Chi FestivalThe Shefford Tai Chi Festival is held at Shefford Community Hall each year on World Tai Chi and Chi Kung Day designated by the World Health Organisation for the last Saturday of April. This year it will be complimented by a wider Community Festival held at venues throughout Shefford in September from 22nd to 30th.  Organisations wishing to participate in either this year’s Community Festival or next year’s Tai Chi Festival should contact Ian Deavin on ian.deavin@btconnect.com

Contacts:

Tai Chi – Ian Deavin – 07860 218334

Jujitsu – Lee Alexander/Nicky Tribble – 07780 971004

Alexander Technique – Eileen Johnson – 07717 154732

Wing Chun – Yvoone and William Wong – 07900 922486

Taekwondo – Tom Delve – 07743 918487

Yoga – Rick Nunn – 07535 676319

Massage/Aromatherapy – Tom Rigby – 01767 314185

Shefford Library – Joy Lakin – 0300 300 8067

Shefford Community Hall – Elsa Tattersfield – 01462 811607

Ian and Judy Celebrating Spirals in Tai Chi and Alexander Technique

On 12-14 May 2017 at the Belsey Bridge Conference Centre, Suffolk we will be holding our first  Alternative Health Exercises Residential Weekend – of gentle movement and body awareness exercises in a environment of light humour and relaxation.

The weekend program will be based on our popular seminar series of exercises  developed  from Tai Chi &  Alexander Technique with  elements of dance incorporated  into two days of mindfulness exercises  and meditation ‐ developing a practical  way of being.

Widely experienced Alexander teacher  Judy Hammond and long‐term Tai Chi  instructor Ian Deavin have created this  program of physical and mental  exercises suitable for both complete  beginners seeking a retreat weekend,  or for more experienced exercisers  looking to “workshop” their mind and  body development.

Belsey Bridge Conference Centre offers  a delightful mix of space, quietness and excellent hospitality  ‐ the  package includes tuition with full board plus morning and  afternoon tea.

  • an introduction to Tai Chi and  Alexander Technique
  • Relaxing and strengthening  movement
  • Individual, partner and group  work
  • Meditation, visualisations

To book your place contact here

Positive daily work – chi kung

20 September 2016
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Recent research has apparently demonstrated that creativity is enhanced by mundane activity – something the Zen meditators have long suggested. Too little activity and the mind stagnates, too much and the task overrides the creative process. So, unsurprisingly, I get many ideas while jogging – so long as I am not too focused on competing […]

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Exploring Internal Time

26 May 2016
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Martial artists, philosophers, medical specialists, artificial intelligence engineers and psychotherapists to name a few are greatly interested in the conscious/sub-conscious/ unconscious process employed by the human bodymind in dealing with external reality. From my own reading and experience I have found the following approach useful: The conscious appears to be a survival tool developed to […]

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A few thoughts on meditation

9 July 2015

There seem to be many types and many purposes for doing meditation. As with most things some types are promoted as wonderful but are actually low level – you should decide for yourself which is which and what suits you. I first came across meditation in the spiritual/psychological areas, but as you have probably gathered […]

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Moving Mindfully – brilliant new website!

6 November 2014

My wonderful friend and colleague Judy Hammond has recently posted her new website movingmindfully.com with some lovely ideas and imagry. Judy and I have co-presented a number of Tai Chi / Moving Mindfully seminars in the past 2 or 3 years on subjects as diverse as falls prevention, spiralling, meditation and movement – she is an […]

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Seminar – Tai Chi Exercises and Meditation @ The Letchworth Centre for Healthy Living

4 September 2014

I am really looking forward to our next one-day seminar in October covering Tai Chi related exercises and meditation – with the added benefit of Alexander Technique. The mix of meditation and movement combines to create internal awareness and understanding of our body usage – this seminar will take time to explore how we can […]

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Into Mountains, Over Streams – Journal of Internal Arts and Culture

8 November 2013

My thanks to the publication – “Into Mountains, Over Streams – Journal of Internal Arts and Culture” for republishing one of my articles “Body Mapping Chi, & Muscle Power” – more than my article itself the journal is well worth a look as it covers a wealth of material on healing, internal practices, meditation etc. Share the […]

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