Monday, November 30, 2009

These Magic Moments

Trees peopled the landscape. Their dark presence--drawn into brief silhouette by the incandescence of emerging sun--was witness to my practice.

The sunrise was lovely. I breathed it in ... deep, slow breaths. For me, these magical minutes of sun emerging over horizon to light earth and sky are a blessing.

I began practice by standing quietly in Resting Position; feeling my rootedness to the earth, imagining my connection to the sky. Soon I felt energy in my palms, a slight vibration and feeling of fullness, a light trembling of fingers.

Practice time passed quickly. One difference today. Frances rose with me this morning. (I'm typically the solo early riser.) I became aware of her presence through the whirr of the coffee grinder, the clatter of a pan on the stove, the swish of rice pouring into metal.

Surprisingly, I was not distracted from my practice by these sounds but pulled deeper into it. It's easier for me to focus my attention on the present when I hear outside noises and distractions. Inner noises--Monkey Mind again?!?--are a different story....

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Coming to Light

I watched the woods come to light today. I'd hoped to see a gleaming, pink-orange sunrise over Lake Superior.... But, though a three-quarter moon shone brightly through our windows last evening, this morning is dark, overcast. We live on the Bayfield peninsula which juts out into Lake Superior. Late fall skies are often filled with clouds formed by moisture from the still-unfrozen lake. A day, an hour, a few minutes of sunshine is a delight.

Starting my practice in darkness and ending in light felt dramatically different. The energy is distinctive: in the darkness I wished for quiet comfort. I felt compelled to make more intuitive choices about the movements I performed and the manner in which I moved my body. My practice varied from the typical routine: Rocking Motion--two sets (18 total), then Passing Clouds, two sets.

As the morning lightened, energy shifted. The pace of life surged as Lake Superior flashed into view, silvery water reflecting blue-grey sky. Rust-brown leaves shone from the ground as birds flew to the feeder area. A woodpecker hung from the suet pecking out breakfast.

I didn't think about what movements came next but let my body decide. I now felt ready to extend myself further, activate my body more. Two sets of Working the Pulley were followed by all variations of the Taffies, three sets each.

The Lights and Healing Sounds carried me to the end of my practice.

One of my long-time students mentioned recently that she needed to change the atmosphere and time of her practice. Often she found herself practicing while coffee brewed and the clock ticked closer to work time. She recognized that her morning routine pulled her out of the quiet softness of a slow, relaxed, not-on-a-schedule practice.

This morning's practice invited me into a deeper exploration of how my own practice varies from darkness to light. It's inspiration, I guess, to rise earlier, practice in greater darkness. And feel, simply feel, the difference.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Goofy Madness

I was right. Today's moving meditation practice flowed out of me, smooth and calm. After initial anxiety about how to do this t'ai chi chih practice blog writing thing I'm back to center.

I chose a different spot in the living room for today's practice. From here I can see Lake Superior sparkling and glistening in the distance. Of course, acres and acres of trees dropped their leaves in order for this magnificent view to appear.

Today I lost myself in the glimmer of shining lake reflecting shining sky. And then ... practice was over. It surprised me how quickly practice time glided by even as I moved slowly, slowly.

Now at Day Three I enjoy this goofy mad experiment. It gets me out of bed early and plops me directly into the middle of two of my greatest loves: dancing with the Universe and finding words to describe that experience. What could be better than that?

Friday, November 27, 2009

Day Two: Distraction

Today is another quiet day in the woods. Despite the calm--no breeze--I felt uneasy during my morning t'ai chi chih (TCC) practice. Students' words echoed through my mind. I remembered a conversation I had about TCC post-Thanksgiving dinner. I worried about what to write in today's blog. In other words, Monkey Mind was up and running....

Our dog, Namaste, barked incessantly throughout my half-hour practice. Deer were nearby, I know, although they remained out of sight. A woodpecker pounded the hanging suet, a flush of bluejays raided the ground below the birdfeeder, and several nuthatches hunted seed.

Still, though I felt the energy in my palms and I slowed into the movements, I was not totally present in my practice. Instead of "be here now," I anticipated the too-soon-future when my blog awaited an entry.

Well, that's a bit of insight into my personality ... I am an anxious person. Of course, t'ai chi chih moving meditation brings peace and tranquility into my life. But that, too, can be fleeting. Often when I'm in the midst of a practice I wonder, "Why can't I live my life this way? Calm. Rooted in the wisdom and love at the core of my being." All too quickly the peace and comfort I've gained while performing the TCC movements is replaced by Life with a capital "L."

I believe, though, that the more regularly I practice, the more benefits I receive. I told Michael, our waiter at the Village Inn in Cornucopia, yesterday--where Frances and I went for a Thanksgiving meal--that I teach t'ai chi chih moving meditation in Corny.

"Really?" he responded, "Oh, that's why you seem so calm."

My partner laughed at his comment. The laughter was immediate and sure. Yes, she lives with me every day, year after year, and she is witness to my ups and downs. She sees how the raucous, rolling waves of my emotions sometimes turn me into--her words--a drama queen.

I'm better than I used to be. That's what I tell my students. And I know it's true. Earlier in my life I was often swamped or thrown overboard by the strength and ferocity of my anger, grief, and shame. Now I know that, mostly, I can stay afloat and keep my bearings. I seldom drown in the deep lake of my emotions anymore.

Years ago at a t'ai chi chih teachers' training the trainer sat quietly with his legs bouncing up and down. He was sitting as calmly as he could in the circle of certified teachers and teachers-to-be even as his body indicated that it was difficult; he was ready to get up and move, forgo the discussion, just go-go-go. "You think this is bad," he said to the group, "You should have seen me before I started practicing t'ai chi chih moving meditation."

I agree. T'ai chi chih practice doesn't turn us into perfect people. Perhaps more than anything t'ai chi chih moving meditation helps us to accept ourselves exactly as we are. For we are--all of us--imperfectly perfect human beings. And what greater gift can we offer ourselves than unconditional love and acceptance?

I know that tomorrow's blog will be easier. The day after that easier yet. Today I launched my boat into wide open waters. In the days that follow I'll gain greater comfort and experience as I balance myself between these two loves of mine: t'ai chi chih moving meditation and writing. If you'd like, I invite you to join me on my deep sea adventure....

Thursday, November 26, 2009

And so it begins ...

Today is Day One of my daily T'ai Chi Chih (TCC) moving meditation/blogging experiment. First, move. Next, write about my T'ai Chi Chih practice. What happened, how I felt, what I learned.... Sounds simple, doesn't it? It could be. It should be. But ... will it be? That remains, shall we say, to be seen.

I made this reckless commitment earlier today in my regular blog "Under the Forest Canopy" at I wrote that blog after a morning TCC practice in which I'd seen six deer browsing through the woods outside our house. I was bewitched. I felt unaccountably blessed and thankful. And, further, I was unexplainably willing to take a desperate, delightful leap into the known and unknown.

Why does this t'ai chi chih blog journal seem desperate? Perhaps because I've been known to dally weeks between blog entries. Suddenly I'm committed to a daily measure of words. I don't know what those words will be, how those words will sound, or whether those words will flow freely from my brain or falter and stick to my fingertips.

Worse, I haven't maintained a regular daily t'ai chi chih practice for years. An unhealed knee injury from four+ years ago is partially to blame for the deceleration of my practice. A move to the woods of Northwestern Wisconsin seven years ago shifted me into the struggle to survive mode and I've been rattling around on that hamster wheel ever since.

So ... daily writing and a daily t'ai chi chih practice have eluded me for years.

What better time to start than now??