mindfulness

This came up in conversation recently with my teacher Karel Koskuba in discussing how one progresses in Tai Chi – this constant process of practicing and noticing – paying attention to small things and following them – until suddenly there is a realisation of significant change and that something previously impossible is now relaxed, natural – almost easy.

A process which seemingly continues in successive cycles……………….until it doesn’t.

 

 

When I practice alone I have the freedom to work without a teacher – that is to say without anybody actively correcting me – I have the freedom to make mistakes and to try “the wrong ” way of doing and sometimes this really pays off. Because I paid attention at the time all my teachers and lessons are memorised  inside me and by going “off piste” I am not questioning them but rather I am questioning my original interpretation of what I thought they were saying or doing – it is amazing how often I got it wrong all those years ago and now suddenly realise what it was they were really trying to teach.

What can I say I am a slow learner!

I find it a bit like being lost without realising it because everything is so familiar, so habitual, in such a comfortable rut – I need to look around and try a new direction in order to find the right path again. We all get delusional sometimes and just doing the same old thing yields the same results – which generally can be a good thing but we can easily veer off in without realising it so it can be worth shaking yourself up and trying some different things. Remember the lesson and try to look for different possibilities than the one you have been focusing on.

The snowglobe of life needs shaking up occasionally so it can settle into a new pattern.

Paying attention

19/03/2020

Paying attention is probably the single most important aspect of learning Tai Chi at any level. Paying attention on a forensic level is vital but extremely difficult and something few in present society are comfortable with – it is a skill in it’s own right, from observing the teacher to observing ourselves and then to observing others. Tai Chi is the most sophisticated thing I have ever come across, also the most paradoxical and it just may be that attention is the most paradoxical part – it may be that the whole point of all Tai Chi practice is to encourage and channel us into paying attention to reality.

Tai Chi and world subcultures

Seen world-wide it is observable that special interest groups have their own mores, practices, language (jargon) and social norms which are often quite foreign to outsiders who occasionally enter them, either out of need or curiosity. We see this in our interactions with the professions of medicine, teaching, law and so forth – when visited at need these micro-cultural schools of expertise justify high fees often sustained by this very separateness and the enforced barriers to understanding which they promote.

Elsewhere, we see a similar situation with areas of personal interest – clearly the one considered here is that of martial arts.

Once we understand Tai Chi/martial arts as a specialist niche culture like the professions, then we can begin to expect some challenging issues in comparison to mainstream culture. Certain practices for example, or ways of perceiving human interaction are just as “foreign” as any medical training (complete with dissections, intimate examinations, drug ingestion, etc) or legal conversation replete with tortuous thought experiments and Latin notation.

Compare for example with dance and its suppressed sexuality (a vertical expression of a horizontal desire), its intellectualised definition of physical expression and its pre-linguistic emotional expression through wholly committed physical action. Consider also the physical, psychological and linguistic worth of sports.

So, when you join a Tai Chi class consider that you have entered a very old sub-culture based on millennia-old ideas and practices, many once common but today lost except to some specialist areas. Perhaps consider what it means to join such a group and allow for the fact that you are the (albeit welcome) outsider who needs to make allowances for the conflicts which may come about from your own expectations. Even for those of us with many years as part of this sub-culture we continue to find that the thinking and habits we were brought up with continue to hold us back in developing our Tai Chi skill set.

So we are all beginners and all seeking to find our place in this world of multiple sub-cultures.

Martial arts and caring for people the Tai Chi way

22 February 2020
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Tai Chi has much to teach us about life and caring for others, for example: Intention – in caring for others we seek to support them when they are about to fall, to help them get up and to heal. In conflict we become destructive and seek to unbalance the other with a view to […]

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Areas of learning in Martial Arts

19 March 2017

Every now and again ( 10 years or so) I ask myself “why am I practicing martial arts?” and usually I get a fairly simple answer – this time I am grateful to a student who prompted me to ask it once again and this time to come up with a very much more complicated […]

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Healthy Movement From Tai Chi & Alexander Technique

30 January 2017
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The following article was recently published by Kindred Spirit magazine: Over my many years of studying and teaching Tai Chi I have recognised that much of individual movement stems from habit – we learn to walk at around 1 year old and then pay it little attention to it until some 60 or so years later when, […]

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Tai Chi and Alexander Technique at Letchworth

6 January 2017
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Once again in 2017 I am partnering with my friend and colleague Judy Hammond to present a series of seminars at the Letchworth Centre for Healthy Living.  See here for details. Share the post “Tai Chi and Alexander Technique at Letchworth” FacebookTwitterLinkedInE-mail

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Residential weekend – retreat/workshop

17 November 2016
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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 […]

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Shefford Tai Chi Festival 2017

29 September 2016
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Each year on the last Saturday of April the World Health Organisation recognises World Tai Chi and Qigong Day – so for 2017 we are planning a Tai Chi festival at the newly refurbished Shefford Community Hall. Entry will be free for all with plans for demonstrations, taster classes, falls prevention discussions, etc through the […]

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