Earlier this week, by accident, I found myself in a tai chi class. It’s been years since I’ve practiced this ancient form of exercise, one that combines deep breathing and slow movement. In my typical fast-moving fashion, I had mixed up the times and thought it was going to a yoga class, but the teacher was so welcoming that I decided to stay. If you’ve ever practiced tai chi with a group, you’ll know that, generally, the class performs a series of continuous movements together. They’ve practiced these choreographed movements over the course of weeks or even months. In other words, everyone else knew what they were doing. I followed along as best I could while peaking at the teacher and my fellow students. Some postures I remembered from years ago. Their names sounded familiar. A good thing about practicing any ancient art form, nothing much changes.
What I realized by the end of the class was that despite not having practiced the sequence again and again as my classmates had, my energetic body seemed to know the essence of what was coming next. The movements felt natural and complete. I found myself trusting my inner being while listening to the teacher’s guiding words. Listening is a skill I’ve been working on lately. I was grateful for the opportunity to heighten my sense of hearing and not become distracted by my mind’s chatter. I had found a sense of stillness in my center. It allowed me to move with an intention that was deeply rooted in the space around me, as well as within myself.
The teacher emphasized the importance of being aware of the dantian centers, mainly the middle, where the seat of our qi lies. This dantian is the energetic cabinet of our bodies. The place where our life force – qi – dwells and thrives. We use our focus on our center to guide us through the movements, making subtle adjustments and following them thoughtfully. When I quieted my mind to be open to listening, I was able to hear my inner being’s whispers. It reminded me that I knew the way, and when I didn’t, if I watched and listened carefully, it would reveal itself.
The next morning, I made my way through the morning routine of getting children ready for school. Once they were on their merry way, and the morning tasks were complete, I sat down with my tea and took a deep breath. My energy felt unsettled and my thoughts scattered, as if they were dangling around outside my body. Then I remembered the feeling I had in class the day before. How, when I trusted my inner wisdom, I was able to move more freely, even when I was unsure of what was coming next. It was then that I decided to take a moment to reset. I retreated to my cozy desk in the corner of my room, took out my journal, and began to write. I completed my journaling session with quiet meditation. Once again my energy felt grounded and renewed. I was back in touch with my life force and ready to move forward in my day with a deeper sense of calm and understanding of what may come next.
I may very well be reintroducing tai chi back into my weekly habits. What started as an accident has the potential to turn into a lifelong practice, both in and out of the classroom. One that I know I can turn to when I am in need of some steadiness and recentering. Another guide on my journey on the path of wellness.