I slept late— not only because of daylight savings time— and therefore practiced minimally. I still felt steady and grounded, but there wasn't time to get the chi flowing.
I'm making adjustments to the pretty blue corduroy shirt I made when I lived in Endicott all those years ago so that I can wear it for T'ai Chi. It had been packed away for some reason I don't remember, and only recently have I rediscovered it. It still fits, but I've had to slit the side seams to allow easier movement, and because when I made it I meant it to be worn open over other things, I have to find some fastenings for the front...
Today my energy has deserted me. I feel leaden.
I still haven't got my energy back and so class tonight seemed almost like work.
We worked again on that creeping snake, taking it from the ear strike through creeping down both sides to the last rooster. Once I was told to relax my shoulders, and once I was told to straighten and relax my right hand for Golden Rooster, but it was my tendonless and uncontrollable thumb that was offending and I can't do anything about that. (I've told David about my thumb half a dozen times now, but he never seems to remember. *sigh*) But then there was the time when, as he went by, I heard, "You're doing well technically." Damned by faint praise. But I'll take what I can get.
David told us tonight that this Saturday is World T'ai Chi Day and there's to be a kind of marathon. All over the world, at 10:00 local time, everyone is supposed to play T'ai Chi, thereby making it a 24-hour world event. He has invited us to the Saturday morning class to participate. Neat.
On the way out tonight, I fell to talking with Shane. He had just bought a T'ai Chi Melodies CD from David. I told Shane that now he'd have to practice to cut number three until he could do the 24 forms and come out even. (It runs 6 minutes and 10 seconds.) He laughed, but then he thought about it and realized it was an interesting idea. When I told him I'd learned to do it, you could see him considering the possibility.
As we were talking, Shane mentioned that he had asked David about a practice routine, and hadn't received any satisfactory advice. It was my turn to laugh as I told him not to feel bad because when I asked David for a practice routine last summer I got told, "Be like the water." "Well then," Shane remarked, "I guess I won't ask him again."
It seems Shane and I share in feeling very much on our own as far as practice goes. We both practice an hour or so a day, but neither of us feels he knows what he's doing— and we both hate stretching. We wonder: Should we practice the 24 forms start to finish, over and over? Should we break the forms down? Concentrate on this or that? What? Western thinking, I'm sure, but, dammit, we westerners, born and bred.
I've often wondered about the answer David gave me last summer, and I think what he meant to say— or perhaps what he did say and I didn't understand then— was, "Go play. Just go play T'ai Chi." I've been trying to do that.
My energy remains dreadfully low. I practiced the stepping exercise, hoping it would help bring up my energy, but it didn't.
I practiced the creeping snake again, up and down the porch... but... no.
What a beautiful day! Warm. Sunny. I stretched— I felt compelled to stretch just so I would be able to conquer that creeping snake! I practiced. But my energy continued so low...
I decided to intentionally ignore that creeping snake for a while. I've worked on it quite a lot over the last few weeks. Time to let it sink in.
Later: David called to say that our World T'ai Chi & QiGong Day gathering is going to be at the Spiritual Center at 9 ayem Saturday.
I didn't sleep well, and I didn't practice when I got up, I just went to work. I can't believe how enervated I feel.
A rainy start, and I was awakened by nightmares— something to do with Donald Sutherland of all people!— but it's World T'ai Chi & QiGong Day. Yay!
We all met in the dining hall of the Spiritual Center, so we had kitchen facilities and the first thing we did was heat a kettle of water for tea.
It was a small gathering— just ten of us out of all David's students— but really that made it all the more fun because we all got a chance to talk with one another, and get better acquainted over tea...
Long about nine-thirty David started warming us up with some QiGong and just as we began, the sun came out! We warmed up, and at ten we were ready to play. We went through the forms a few times and broke for tea again. Then David decided to show us forty-two form and that was a show! David changing location evey few moves so we could all see what he was doing, and us trying to follow along with all the kicks and turns—! It was great!
Then we tried to take a group picture. Cindy had brought along a new digital camera she'd gotten free with her ISP service, and nobody knew how to work it— but we tried. David took some of all of us, and then a couple of us tried to take a shot of the group with him— we took a bunch of pictures— we think. Heaven only knows at this point whether any of them came out! We'll see.
We had a bit more tea and conversation— David came over to me and said, "Even though this isn't a class..." and proceeded to tell me that I had been messing up the most basic Parting Horse's Mane. He was right. I was. And I told him why: I knew he was behind me, watching. Now why that should fluster me so, I don't know, but today it did. It really did.
Anyway, we finished up with our QiGong cool down exercies, and tidied the place up, and we all headed for home feeling very, very good...
It was a very pleasant morning, and it was a wonderful way to celebrate the day— thank you again, David!
Cold and raw today, and my energy level nearly off the low end of the scale. I feel tired and chilled. I don't know what's wrong. I felt great all day yesterday after our gathering...
I didn't practice today— and I felt terribly guilty, too— but instead I headed over to Jo's to sit by the wood stove and get warm. I hadn't talked to her all week, but when I mentioned that we'd gotten together yesterday morning for World T'ai Chi & QiGong Day, she told me that at nine ayem yesterday morning, out of the blue, she had decided to watch her old Terry Dunn Long Form T'ai Chi tape, and at ten o'clock she was practicing the forms! She must have felt the chi. Later, over one hundred percent organic— except for the chocolate chips— cookies fresh from the oven, Jo and Snail and Jake— Snail & Jake were over helping build the garden pool and we all pitched in to haul a bunch of rocks from the back pasture— and I had a long wildly rambling conversation about yin and yang, and chi, and T'ai Chi (Snail & Jake have been studying for years— other forms I know nothing about) and had a good time. You can't count days like this a loss!
Warmth and sunshine. Exactly what I needed! I still feel low on energy, but today I practiced— and that creeping snake didn't give me quite as much of a problem. Practice felt good today, but not as good as last week. Ah, well. I know that feeling will come again.
Class began with QiGong, Holding the Tree. David is having us hold our arms in a more relaxed manner now. Before it really was like stretching one's arms around a big tree, but now it's elbows down slightly, hands at an upward angle— different.
Anyway, we did that, and then David had us "bring the energy together" with our hands as we do in the cooldown, and when you could feel the ball of energy, we were instructed to pull our hands slowly apart only to the point where we could still feel the energy between our hands.... we did this rhythmically, breathing....
Well, either I'm crazy or the chi was very, very strong, because I could feel so much energy between my hands that I encountered resistance when I tried to bring them together— so much so that I had to use force, and then there was a point past which I couldn't go! And when I spread my hands apart, I could have spread them as wide as my arms would go and I would've still felt the chi between them!
Later, Ma told me that she felt the chi very strongly, too. She felt so much energy that her arms wanted to fly right up. I told her she should've gone with the feeling, she might have levitated! (Who knows? I alsmost believe she could.)
Before class I watched David practicing...
There's a voyeuristic quality to watching David perform T'ai Chi— or QiGong, for that matter...
T'ai Chi is very sensual because it's so slow and graceful. Watching, you can't help but feel something physical yourself; and too, the power generated, the chi, can be physically sensed. Watching, I feel each movement as if I were the performer...
But it isn't only that makes me feel the voyeur. It's that, sometimes, David is concentrating so intently that he is effectively alone, in a private place. Then I feel a bit of shame for intruding; and a bit of titilation from witnessing an intimate and private act.
It's a joy to watch, too, though. Beautiful. Elevating. But I almost always feel I shouldn't have watched David without his express permission. Like good sex, it ought (it seems to me) to be a mutually consentual act. I guess that's why I feel like blushing when David catches me watching him practice. Then I look away quickly. Especially the times he smiles at me. The feeling of sharing then is very intimate.
Rain and mist. The air was calm and humid, but very comfortable. Crows sqwuaked in the trees. As I breathed out I saw my breath: a white wraith gently sliding away from me, evaporating at an impossible distance from me...
I began today with QiGong. I've been learning from books— The the safe exercises for beginners. A lot I've already learned from David. Now I've found the "Golden Eight" and others that I know from my study of Yoga all those years ago. Some of the exercises have stayed with me: the side stretch, shoulder and neck rolls, the cobra, and others. I use them often.
After QiGong, the forms. Three sets from the left side. Today I feel my coordination between hands and feet is improving— some moves seemed almost involuntary— and my feet didn't feel leaden. Yay!
Last night, the book I was reading said the final form is QiGong is to bring the hands together in front of the heart and thank your teacher, and your teacher's teacher, so that one has a sense of the continuity. That's what I've always done. Nobody had to tell me. (Thank you, David.)
I don't remember practice... My new T'ai Chi Magazine came today and I was too tired to read it.
I didn't practice today. Instead, I found myself reading T'ai Chi Magazine as I stood at the kitchen table, feet apart, shifting my weight from one foot to the other. When it was time to get ready for work, I did a little QiGong.
When I got home from work, the evening was so beautiful that I went out on the back porch and just started practicing. It felt very, very good... But a strange thing has been happening: when I Grasp Needle at Sea Bottom, and draw my hand back up from the thrust, my extended foot "automatically" comes back in— as it should, except that it's not a controlled movement. It's almost involuntary. And it's unbalanced. I can't quite figure out why it's happening, but it happens both sides.
Today I feel old.
I practiced barefoot in the warm sun, but my concentration was very bad, and I kept worrying about not being able to get my feet to relax again. I did feel them relax for awhile a few weeks ago. Then my big toes were straightening out, making my balance more stable. My toes— my whole body has been tense for so many years I'm afraid the damage may be irreversable. I'll never be able to do "tiger toes" properly.
Practicing barefoot felt good, but the roughness of the boards made turning difficult, and I found myself taking shorter steps, too. Not necessarily a bad thing, I guess.
Today I went to the beach. (I was visiting family for the holiday, and they have a tiny house in Charlestown.) The water— ocean was a rich ultramarine blue shading to the most delightful greens as it came towards the shore. The sand was golden (there's a lot of yellow and orange feldspar in the sand here), it's rich, warm color complementing the colors of the sea. I built sandcastles on this beach many years ago...
I found a spot on the sand and tried to perform a set of forms, but the wind came up, and got stronger as I went, until it was nearly knocking me down. I could feel chi all around me, and it was moving within me, and I felt I could have controlled it to some degree, kept it, but the wind, a constant and powerful wind from the west blowing straight along the beach, was overwhelming and I felt it sucking the chi away. I finished the forms and left the beach.
It was a relief to leave the beach. As I walked back along the gravel road, I could feel the energy coming back up through the soles of my feet, restoring my energy.
Later at home, for practice I returned to the basics. Stretching, a bit of QiGong, and then the forms.
I didn't practice today.
No lesson tonight— we use the school cafetorium, and this week the school is closed for Easter Vacation— so I practiced at home, before work.
I started with the "Golden Eight" QiGong exercises, and then I performed sit sets of the forms. The QiGong exercises are still puzzling to me. I mean, I don't quite know what the point is, yet. But, as with the T'ai Chi, I expect understanding will come with practice.
Doing the sets today was interesting. In some ways they were very much easier. I felt more relaxed and I seemed to have more control... and yet, there was a lot that felt rough and jerky. I knew I wasn't getting Repulse the Monkey right; my Peacock grasping sucked; and my Press was a ratcheting sort of turn— and I still can't kick without doing myself an injury (How do I solve that problem?)—
And yet, I feel I'm making progress! Go figure!
For practice this morning I did some QiGong, but I think I only did one set of forms. I felt distracted. I don't know the cause. I remember having some disturbing dreams, though...
I feel disconnected and distraced and the magic seems to be gone out of the t'ai chi. Perhaps it's because I haven't focused on it, and have been playing with the QiGong. Maybe I need to separate the two practices... I've got to do something because for the last few days I've been wondering if I even care about t'ai chi anymore.
Tonight was "Circle" night, the night all us "energy workers" meet at Jo's. I took Ma with me. She's a natural for working that chi!
Later, at Ma's, I practiced grasping that peacock's tail for— I don't know how long.
Practice today was back to the basics. Stretching, then five or six sets of forms. I can't kick with either heel and I don't know what to do about that, but... I should probably ask my teacher, but...
At the library today I went to look over the magazine collection and found that Time had a cover article "The Science of Yoga," and Psychology Today had a cover article about the Dalai Lama, and an article "The Science of Meditation." I xeroxed them all. I'll take them to class next week in case anyone hasn't seen them.
I didn't practice before work. I intended to practice afterwards, but work went badly, and instead of going straight home, I went to Jo's and stayed there until nine or so.
I've lost that sense of being grounded that I was getting from the t'ai chi. Perhpas the key is that it must be practiced every day, not skipped or varied. But I was— am feeling so impatient with it. There seems to be so much more to be learned that I feel I'm lagging behind...
In the Time article, there was a quote from a yoga teacher, "However you do the posture today is how you should do the posture." That removes a little of the pressure, I must say.
I practiced. Just the forms, five on each side, the cooldown Qigong. (Thank you, David.) Things seems a little better.
Today I helped out at Jo's for the Herb Apprentice program. I played apothocary, measuing out herbs all afternoon. There wasn't time to practice properly, but it was a beautiful day.
I practiced. Better—
I got an email from David saying there won't be any lesson tomorrow! David had a bad accident many years ago, and had an operation on his back. From time to time, the old injury flares up and causes a great deal of discomfort. So. It has flared up, and there won't be any lessons for a bit.
Today the sun on the porch boards was almost too hot for my bare feet! (I had taken my shoes and socks off because I felt my toes getting tense.) But I practiced, knowing that there wouldn't be any lesson tonight, and remembering that David had admonished me in his email to "... practice and make it flow like the water."
I think the water is running over concrete blocks. But I feel better about everything, and some of the magic is back.
And I talked with David tonight. When I came out of work at quarter to seven (I stayed late because t'ai chi was cancelled), I saw his car over at the school. A new session of lessons was to have started tonight; I figured he was there making sure no new unregistered students showed up not knowing about the cancellation. He was. I asked him how he was, and he said he's on the mend...
As we talked— and we talked and talked about all sorts of things— he mentioned that he was feeling quite frustrated by the injury flaring up because, he said, some of us students are ready to go on to the next level. Yay! Good news. Please get well soon, David.
Practice was short, but it felt good. The air was cool and comfortable. Sometimes, I almost got the forms to flow...
Practice felt good— though my feet still feel tense— but I was going a little fast. 6 minutes/set, maybe. Fast for me— can one actually do t'ai chi too slowly? Rats.
A beautiful day for practice. I could feel the energy, and the flow...
Later, in the evening at Jo's (we had been out scouting for watercress plants among other things), we played a little t'ai chi. Jo learned long form, but hasn't practiced for a couple of years. So we got to comparing notes, and demonstrating forms to each other in her kitchen. Then we started playing with a bit of QiGong. The chi was very strong tonight. Neat.
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