Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Hip Hip Hooray!

It's a snow day!!! I cancelled all three of my T'ai Chi Chih classes scheduled for this morning and evening. And, like a lot of other adults, I felt like a kid again with a totally open Play Day.

We didn't receive the predicted 18+ inches of snow, but I'm guessing that at least 10 inches fell. I took a test drive to decide whether I could make it to my morning class and found close to white out conditions. Now that the snow has stopped and the wind is less harsh I can see further out the window to all that's been buried: cars, roofs, wood piles, and the east side of trees.

I didn't really play today since I had an accumulated array of chores to complete. Nevertheless, it felt wonderful to relish the quiet and enjoy the sensation of being snowed in for the day....

I practiced T'ai Chi Chih late in the afternoon as I looked out the windows at our better-late-than-never winter wonderland. The cat, who slept throughout the day, roused herself and jumped onto the chest of drawers in front of me. From that vantage point she viewed the wonderland too. Then she rose onto her hind feet and pawed at the curved icicle that pointed directly at the window. I'd been wondering about that icicle too....

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

A Life Buoy

Yesterday's strategies worked beautifully. I shoveled snow for 45 minutes; by the time I came back inside, I felt better. Next I did a full T'ai Chi Chih practice, then ate liver for lunch (Frances swears by the mood boosting effects of the B vitamins contained in liver). By the time I left for work the world was, again, a friendly place.

I practiced TCC today while more snow drifted from sky to earth. There's a winter storm warning through tomorrow evening with up to 18 inches of snow, high winds, and low visibility predicted. Winter has finally arrived; it's comforting to look outside and see fresh layers of winter wonderland white blanketing the woods.

I haven't been sleeping well and I'm hopeful that my AM TCC practice will buoy my energy through this afternoon and evening. I always enjoy practicing T'ai Chi Chih while snow (and rain) fall. There's a comfortable slowdown of body and mind that seems to occur naturally when precipitation falls from the heavens.

Monday, February 27, 2012

A Wandering, Worrying Mind

Today I continue to feel overemotional and out of balance. While lying awake in the middle of the night I practiced what I preach to my students; I performed a mental rehearsal of T'ai Chi Chih to aid in relaxation and (hopefully) return to sleep.

My mental rehearsal was helpful up to a point. I drifted off to sleep for short periods as I made my way through the entire TCC practice. Now that I'm out of bed it's clear that I need to do a full moving meditation practice before I head to work because I'm caught in a cycle of low level anxiety.

It's also obvious that I have to move my body more vigorously to shift the chemistry in my brain. Lucky for me I have about six inches of new snow lying on the ground and it needs to be shoveled off the front step, deck, and around the car.

We'll see what relief my moving meditation practice and my snow shoveling provide for my wandering, worrying mind.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Weekend Wanderings

Saturday, February 25, 2012:

Well, I learned a lesson: Don't wait to blog until the day after I do my practice because my memory won't dependably recall the previous day's activities.

I remember going to the sixth annual donut fry at Port Wing on Saturday afternoon. The Town Hall was filled with people, children, music, talent shows, potluck items, conversation, and, yes, donuts. But, (I'm guessing) as a result of the overstimulation, I can't remember anything else about my day. Usually I take the time to write in my journal if I don't get to the computer, but today I totally spaced out making any written record of the day and the TCC practice.

How odd to not remember what happened a mere 24 to 36 hours earlier....

Sunday, February 26, 2012:

It's been one snowy, all-white day. Finally.

Today I worked on taxes. Again. I hope to meet with an accountant this week and I still had a fair amount of collecting, calculating, and streamlining to do. It feels good to get organized and to know that soon this annual obligation will be completed.

In late afternoon I did my seated TCC practice out on the porch as I listened to background sounds of Frances sharpening knives in the kitchen, Chiripa playing wildly in the living room, and a space heater running softly next to me. I had a highly emotional day and it felt wonderful to calm and settle myself.

I'm ready--almost!--to begin another work week.

Friday, February 24, 2012

The Need to Be

Yep. Again today I'm feeling that end of the week exhaustion. (At least the end of my work week.)

I slept late and then made every effort to pace myself. I only brought one sled of firewood into the house instead of my normal three sledfulls. I only made one food item rather than spending an entire afternoon in the kitchen. I did my entire T'ai Chi Chih practice seated, not standing.

Oh, I moved slowly after I got out of bed. And now, after TCC practice, I feel better, quieter, calmer, more relaxed.

I opted out of attending this evening's library presentation of the film, Freedom Riders (about civil rights activists in the south during the '60s). I was sorely tempted because a Freedom Rider who lives on Madeline Island will be there this evening to tell his story. But ... I need time alone. I need to soak myself in peace in quiet. I need to be free of obligations. I need to be.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Practice, Practice, Practice and then ... Forget

Wednesday, February 22, 2012:

I began the day with a T'ai Chi Chih beginners' class and ended the day with a T'ai Chi Chih beginners' class. Between the two sessions I organized my 2011 taxes, logged on to a wireless connection at a public library to learn how to use a Kindle Fire (required for my Bayfield Library job in order to assist patrons when they eventually check out the Fire), bought groceries and gas, and taught another (continuing) TCC class.

When I arrived home from teaching, I went to bed immediately. Taking time to write my blog was beyond my capabilities because I was flat-out tired.

At the T'ai Chi Chih continuing class I mentioned Sr. Antonia's February 2012 Newsletter. In it she included a reprint of an email exchange between a TCC teacher candidate and a certified teacher following a training session for teacher candidates who wished to learn how to refine and improve their TCC form.

The aforementioned teacher candidate cited several suggestions and instructions from the training that spoke to her and helped her to move forward in her own practice. She wrote:
The feeling of a free floating Ferris wheel, in Bass Drum, is lightening, loosening and smoothing my practice! There are very light dear ones in my airy Ferris wheel, helping to soften and even the pace and level. I've noticed for awhile that there was a bit of wasted energy on Bird Flaps its Wings, but couldn't put my finger on where. Now, thanks to Bill, I know there was unnecessary pulling up of my wrists, as coming back together, and it also applies to the circles of Wrist Circles Taffy.... Working the Pulley ... the discovery of how shifting just a bit further forward, gets me more grounded, and makes for an easier ride forward and back, with fuller, lighter and evenly sized circles on each end.
There have been many times in my own TCC practice when one small refinement or correction makes all the difference in the level of ease and relaxation with which I can now perform the movement. I've said it before and I'll say it again: That's what I appreciate about TCC practice. No matter how many years you practice, there are always opportunities for new learning and growth. As Sr. Antonia noted in her newsletter:
The evolutionary character of Chi continues to amaze, transform, deepen, enlighten, etc. those who delve into its mystery through their total presence in the form of awareness in their practice. The level of understanding, both on the part of the candidate and of the teacher, accounts for change on many levels.
Thursday, February 23, 2012:

This morning's TCC class--the last one of the week--felt as though it was an inadvertent continuation of last night's Continuing TCC class discussion. Today, though, we talked about Buddha's Brain, Chapter 12, under the section entitled "Rapture and Joy."

As our group discussed how or when we experience Rapture and Joy during our T'ai Chi Chih practices we segued into a discussion about specific movements in the form. Each of us has our own favorite movements as well as others that we consider to be hard to relate to and/or simply don't understand.

Based on my experiences with my own TCC practice, I believe that after years of repetition we grow to love and appreciate each and every one of these movements. To me, that's an indication that we are mastering the form and learning how to let go of resistance and/or blockages that heretofore stood in our way.

I can no longer remember how many TCC movements I struggled with over the years. Still, I continued to practice. And, as one class member explained, now the finger that once hurt works perfectly and you've forgotten that it ever was injured.

T'ai Chi Chih inspires healing on all levels of the mind, body, and spirit until you have no recollection of the struggles that once existed in your bodymind with regard to one (or many) of the TCC movements (and much else in your life!). Now each and every movement becomes part of the great Universal Dance. And that is true letting go....

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

No Reason Other than Snowflakes

It's snowing! That's such a rarity this winter that I savor the beauty and silence that comes with each infrequent snowfall. While normally we'd wake each morning with a light (or heavier) dusting of snow, this year our snow accumulations are infrequent to none.

New snow greeted me when I walked to the kitchen window this morning. After I started my T'ai Chi Chih practice on the porch more snow fell lightly and then, fast and furious.

It certainly feels as though fresh-falling snow contributes to the experience of my TCC practice. Perhaps the snowfall reminds me of my childhood when snowstorms meant school cancellations while life paused for a day or two. Or maybe the pure white covering hints at a fresh start, a new beginning....

Whatever the reason, I found it easier to slow and relax into my TCC practice this morning. I've also been crazy-busy recently and it's likely that my body needed the slower pace, the quieter environment, the recalibration.

Today for no reason other than snowflakes I feel happy, comfortable, at ease.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Slow and Calm

Saturday, February 18, 2012:

T'ai Chi Chih practice almost got away from me today. I zoomed from the moment I rose (cooking and cleaning for dinner and movie guests). At the last minute--right before guests arrived--I flew into my practice.

It was instantly obvious how speeded up I was. And, thankfully, in ten quick minutes I felt my body slow and relax. I relaxed so much, in fact, that I exited the gathering midway through the movie and went to bed. No regrets.

Sunday, February 19, 2012:

Today was another busy day filled with life's chores. I decided to spend yet another weekend computer-free and, again, it was lovely.

When darkness fell, I practiced T'ai Chi Chih. It felt strange, as if it had been days since I last practiced. Obviously, my ten minute practice interlude yesterday wasn't enough.

The slowdown from practice was long overdue and desperately needed. It's official: I transitioned from a doer to a be'er (and I don't mean the beverage). Now I feel so incredibly relaxed that I foresee another early to bed night.

Monday, February 20, 2012:

This morning, captured by the brilliant colors of the rising sun, I dropped everything and practiced T'ai Chi Chih. I could feel that my body was already geared up for a busy day and my mind overflowed with ideas about what I needed to do before I headed off to work.

Instead, I sat on a stool and moved slowly and softly through my practice. I could feel my priorities shifting and changing. What, truly, was more important that being right here in the moment saturating myself with the pinks and blues and glowing golden light of a new day?

When I looked out the living room window, the sky and water looked like mirrored reflections of each other. The glowing pink light in the sky was reflected in the water. The dark blue ridges of the horizon were mimicked by the clouds in the sky.

Then, suddenly and unexpectedly, the glowing orb of the sun emerged over the horizon. It rose with incredible speed; by the time I moved through the Taffys, the sun was already riding high in the sky. Yes. Yes! Today I begin my day with slow and calm rather than drive and hustle. It feels so much better....

Friday, February 17, 2012

Fully Present

When I get into my busy mode--which I'm in today--it's difficult for me to be fully present to my life. Frances is an awesome teacher for me. We both walked into the forest to collect more firewood this morning. While we walked I saw that Frances stopped, paused, looked around, and listened. Me? I was on task and focused solely on the job at hand. Who do you think was fully inhabiting her life?

Later, when I returned to the woods by myself after Frances left to complete other errands, I took more time to look and listen. It felt wonderful to engage myself with the trees surrounding me, to appreciate the beauty, and to soak in the quiet. Would I have done this if I hadn't followed Frances's role modeling from earlier in the day? Probably not.

This experience reminded of a Daily Good quote from last week:
Have the life you want by being fully present to the life you have.
          --Mark Nepo
I practiced T'ai Chi Chih mid-afternoon after I'd pulled in about six sledloads of firewood. My body felt tired and sore, but the T'ai Chi Chih practice (I performed some sitting down and some standing up) helped me to relax my muscles and let go of the residual load I still carried. Now I'm ready to move on to my next set of chores while I remind myself to be fully present to the life I have.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

The Flow of My Life

I was wide awake at 5:00 a.m. Gee. Could my early morning wake-up be due to the fact that I taught three T'ai Chi Chih classes yesterday and didn't finish teaching my last class until 8:00 p.m.? Clearly I was taking in a lot of energy throughout the day and evening.

I realized after teaching my first beginners' class yesterday morning that I'm struggling to reconnect with my beginner's mind. It's been so many years since I began to study T'ai Chi Ch'uan and then T'ai Chi Chih that I've forgotten much of what I thought and experienced as a newcomer to these forms. I asked myself whether I was doing a good enough job meeting my students at that place of new beginnings.

One of my new students in the evening class told me that she was impressed with how attuned I was to each person in the classroom. And so, with that feedback, I felt reassured that I'm doing a decent job (there's always room for improvement).
Wisdom tells me I am nothing.
Love tells me I am everything.
And between the two my life
          --Nisarjadatta Maharaj
          From: Daily Good, 2-14-12
This morning's T'ai Chi Chih class practice was incredibly relax-rejuvenating. One student commented afterward: I needed that. I did too. And now this afternoon I have energy enough to go out and pull some sledfulls of firewood in from the forest....

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Humble Be

Today I subbed T'ai Chi Chih for the second time at Humble Be. I'm scheduled to cover three more class sessions for their regular T'ai Chi Ch'uan instructor while she recouperates from surgery. Each session is different depending upon who attends; this morning I had three returning students from last week (my first session) and two newbies.

What did I discover today? I learned that it makes no difference if someone is a beginning or a returning student; what matters is that we each experience some measure of inner peace, begin to embody the silence that comes from engaging in T'ai Chi Chih practice, and are in some small (or large) way transformed by the vital force energy. I can't adequately express how honored I feel to be one of many who are carrying this positive force into the world.

An example: one student gave me a hug after class and confided: I let go of a lot today. I could tell from the way this person moved that s/he is used to expending a lot of effort in their movements (and their life?). It felt hugely significant that s/he identified the difference in their bodymind and I felt immensely grateful to be a witness to this transformation.

My class ended at noon and my next TCC class doesn't begin until 5:30 p.m. which means that I have time to do as I wish during the intervening hours. After I ran errands, I took myself out for a delicious lunch at Coco's (what a treat since I seldom eat out!), and now it's off to the library.

I have another 2.25 hours of T'ai Chi Chih to look forward to before my day ends (two more classes). Is there any more fulfilling, rejuvenating, and en-lighten-ing work than this?

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Valentine's Day 2012

To celebrate this momentous occasion (see above), I went to the dentist this morning to have my teeth cleaned. I wish I could say that it was a pleasant experience but, truly, it was not.

Still, I was aware of the ways in which T'ai Chi Chih is my friend. Even though I was mostly unable to do a mental TCC rehearsal during the cleaning (there's something about having a dental hygenist picking, scratching, and prodding at my teeth and gums that is a bit disturbing and highly distracting), I still found myself able to maintain a quiet, peaceful presence throughout the procedure. I'm grateful for the years of sustained focus, concentration, and centering that T'ai Chi Chih practice has encouraged and stimulated in both my body and mind.

I did a full moving meditation practice after I returned home from my appointment and, for the first time in several days, performed my entire practice while standing and ... my knee was fine. Now I'm off to work at the library. Yesterday the library was uncharacteristically quiet; it remains to be seen what opportunities will unfold during this afternoon's public service.

Happy Valentine's Day everyone! Take some time today to let those you love know it (candy, flowers, and dinner out are optional)!

Monday, February 13, 2012

Dropping Out to Drop Back In

Saturday, February 11, 2012:

This weekend I'm taking a technology vacation: no emailing, no on-line blogging, no Kindle book reading, no web surfing, no DVD watching. It feels great! Instead of gluing my attention to a computer screen I'm making delicious foods (spring rolls and Russian Cabbage Pie), feeding myself and the fire, hunkering down under a blanket, and reading A Superior Death by Nevada Barr.

I know several people in Bayfield who worked for the National Park Service on Isle Royale with Barr (the location where this book is set) which makes the book even more interesting.

T'ai Chi Chih practice came late in the afternoon after I realized my voice sounded huskier and my energy felt lower. Well, it's back to ultimate self-care: lots of sleep, water, good food, and T'ai Chi Chih/Seijaku practice.

I do feel better as a result of my practice. Now it's time to cuddle up under a blanket and dive with Anna Pigeon (Barr's main character in Superior Death) down, down, down 200 feet into Lake Superior.

Sunday, February 12, 2012:

I began my day with a glowing pink sunrise and ended it with a rosy sunset. The major difference between the two occasions? The sun rose over the blue brilliance of Lake Superior and set amid a woodsy tree-filled horizon. (I couldn't truly see it as it dipped its face back beyond the edges of the earth.)

Even though my knee feels better I sat on a stool to flow through today's T'ai Chi Chih practice. The energy felt delightfully delicious. And now, to continue the trend I'm dining on a red lentil-squash soup, fresh salad, and pita bread spread with Baba Ghannouj.

Monday, February 13, 2012:

Well, after a couple days of rest I feel prepared to launch myself into another week of work. My knee still feels weak; and, again today, I practiced TCC while seated on a stool. It doesn't matter as much to me anymore whether I'm standing up or sitting down for my practice since, either way, I can feel the energy as it flows through my body.

I've enjoyed a quiet morning in anticipation of my busy, noisy afternoon at the library. Right after I finished my TCC practice Frances returned from the town garage with news of the latest shenanigans that's on the agenda for this week's town meeting. My experience with maintaining a Buddha Brain versus a Monkey Mind is typically challenged by local (and, for that matter, state and national) politics. I'm provided with plenty of opportunities to practice being in the present.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Learning to Let Go

Today was a typical day off; half of the day I was situated in the kitchen, cooking, and the other half of the day I washed dishes, fed the fire, and talked on the phone with a friend. By nightfall--and T'ai Chi Chih practice time--I realized that my injured knee felt exceedingly painful.

Did I injure my knee yesterday when I pulled three sleds full of wood through the forest? Did I stand too long at the kitchen counter today? Or???

Since I'll be teaching four T'ai Chi Chih classes per week for the next month I decided that the most reasonable and safe way to conduct today's TCC practice was while seated. And ... it was a delightful practice.

The more I experience seated T'ai Chi Chih, the more I enjoy it. In other words, as I allow myself to modify the standing practice to be easily performed while seated, it's simpler to do without experiencing strain or discomfort. (I suppose I could have done this all along but--obviously--it took me some time to realize that I could relax into the "effort of no effort.") Ah, yes, it takes time to learn to let go....

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Living in the Present

The temps are falling again and it's time to venture out into the woods to cut down a dead tree, slice it up into foot-and-a-half servings, and haul it to the house to feed to the ever-hungry wood burner. Frances is prepping the chainsaw as I begin my blog and then we'll both head out to the woods to share this task.

I just came back inside from our out-of-doors wood hauling and I commented to Frances that I couldn't believe I taught a T'ai Chi Chih class this morning. It already feels like a lifetime ago. Is that what it feels like to live in the present?

There were a few extra minutes this morning before students arrived which allowed me to do my Morning Body Prayer and begin a run through of cleansing Qigong. TCC practice was peaceful and calming (as usual). Early in the afternoon Namaste started chewing up leaves on a house plant (a sign that his stomach is upset and he needs to vomit). Soon he did his deed and I followed it up with some Reiki energy work on his belly.

When Frances, Namaste, and I walked to the mailbox just before dark, he ran at top speed both down the driveway and back up again. Gee, I guess he feels better. Me ... I'm tired after hauling wood and I look forward to a relaxed, restful evening.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

The Ultimate Treat

I enjoyed my day teaching a drop-in T'ai Chi Chih class, getting a haircut, picking up a bag of goodies at the local food coop (a gift from the coop since I was the 1,000 member to become fully-vested), and visiting with friends, both old and new. I came home brimming with energy.

The drop-in class went well. All four students have been studying with Cathy, the T'ai Chi Ch'uan instructor, and they seemed game to learn a different form of T'ai Chi. As it turned out, I was reunited with a long lost acquaintance who moved here from the Twin Cities. Over ten years ago she hired me to teach TCC at a senior retirement home in a Twin Cities suburb and she also took my TCC class several times. So, we meet again.

Most likely because these students have been studying T'ai Chi Ch'uan, they seemed to pick up on the movements more quickly than a typical beginner. That made my job easier. I'll see what happens next week depending upon whether I get any other students dropping down from the heavens.

It's so much fun to share T'ai Chi Chih with others. I'm grateful for every opportunity that presents itself in my life. I don't have my two evening classes tonight because of a conflict with the space where I teach. So, one more TCC class in the AM and I'm done for the week (two instead of three classes this week). Moving together with others is the ultimate treat of my week.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Is there a better way?

Tomorrow is my first-ever try--after 15 years of teaching T'ai Chi Chih--at teaching a drop-in class. I'm not sure what to expect. I feel a bit nervous. But I also think that everything will be fine as long as I focus on helping students slow down, relax, enjoy, and feel the peace.

The temps are dropping again after days of spring-like weather. This morning I moved slowly; I overdid it yesterday and it took much of the morning for me to regain my energy and pick up my pace. I did a T'ai Chi Chih practice before work (which felt very good!) and I did a mini-practice after I returned home from work.

Tonight we are enjoying a full moon and it's always fun to practice TCC when the sky is clear and the moon is shining its light everywhere. I enjoyed observing the tree shadows on the snow as I watched my own shadow in the darkened window. And now ... I feel deeply relaxed. Is there a better way to finish a day?

Monday, February 6, 2012

Boil, Walk, Work, Practice

I was up early this morning making all-fruit strawberry jam. What a production! Sugar is so much easier. I don't want sugar in my jam, though, so I boiled apple juice concentrate, blended it with the natural pectin, then added that concoction to boiling strawberries. Boil, boil, boil, boil. I must say that I'd rather be doing all this boiling in the winter than in the middle of summer.

It was another deliciously sunny day and I made a small space in my day to walk the Brownstone Trail before I headed to work. Nice! Then, work, work, work, work.

Immediately after I closed the library I flowed into my T'ai Chi Chih practice. I realized early on that the library may not be the best place to practice; as soon as my mind began to empty, it filled up again with all the business I conducted and then forgot to complete.

It was enjoyable to practice TCC while I was still alert and before I arrived home and saw all the dirty canning equipment I left spread around the kitchen. (Or ... before I flopped into rest mode.)

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Up and Running

I'm back up and running err ... walking today. First off, after suffering with a sick stomach for the past two days, I rose from bed and launched immediately into cooking good healthy food. Mmm. My reward was a delicious lunch of roasted cauliflower, squash, and onion over quinoa polenta.

Since temps were in the mid-40s, Frances and I took a good long walk and then I spent a portion of the afternoon writing--once again!--a bio and course description for five TCC class sessions I start subbing this week. I suppose as long as I teach T'ai Chi Chih I'll be writing bios and course descriptions ad nauseum.

T'ai Chi Chih practice came after dark and after my email with attachment was sent into the ether-world. It's interesting to see how quickly my practice time passes on some days (like today!) compared with other days.

I'm grateful to have my stomach back up and running too (perhaps that's one more reason why my practice passed quickly and easily).

Saturday, February 4, 2012

The Dance of Life

I was up early since I slept a lot over the past few days. It's another beautiful, sunshiney day. My stomach still aches but I now have more energy and wish to move on to the next stage of my recovery.

I did my T'ai Chi Chih practice this morning as a rose-colored glow extended along the horizon from the edges of the earth into the sky. There were no clouds to reflect the morning's colors and I watched as the pink hue was overcome by the bright white light of day.

It was a lovely practice. Starkly beautiful. One still-attached leaf fluttered in the breeze. The branches of a naked, leafless tree further into the forest danced lightly with the wind. And I danced too. The Chi rose and fell, stretched along my limbs, and settled into my center. I began my day with the dance of life....

Friday, February 3, 2012

An Upright Agenda

Today has been a down day. Literally. I slept, read, and napped all day due to a sick stomach. Finally, midafternoon I began to feel better.

First on my upright agenda: T'ai Chi Chih practice. I practiced in the porch so that I could look out on the beautiful sunny yard and see Ms. Lucy the Goosey standing on the front step. Lucy returned the favor by keeping one of her eyeballs trained on me and my movements through much of the form. I think that it likely felt comforting to her to have me nearby and it certainly felt comforting for me to have her watching me from the other side of the door.

The practice passed quickly and I felt uplifted by the presence of the dog and goose. It's another absolutely gorgeous too-warm winter day and even though I'm not venturing out, I'm grateful to see the shine in the sky and on the earth.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Indescribably Blessed

Wednesday, February 1, 2012:

Today I slowed into a rest mode during the morning hours. Yesterday was so busy at work that I spent an extra hour after I closed just trying to finish up all my half-done projects. I was exhausted. And, by this morning, I felt as if my health and energy took another downward dip even as I've worked hard to maintain myself.

I was still tired by midafternoon when I left for my two T'ai Chi Chih classes. As usual, though, the sessions helped me to relax and (somewhat) rejuvenate.

It's always wonderful to hear what my students have to say about their experiences with T'ai Chi Chih. One longtime class member mentioned after our practice that she always keeps her attention and visual focus directed straight forward but, at the same time, she maintains her peripheral vision in order to connect with all the others in our circle. She feels her focus helps her keep a connection, both energetic and psychological, with everyone engaged in the practice. How wonderful!

By the time I finished my beginners' class (which, for me, takes significant focus and attention in order to effectively guide first-timers through their initial experiences with learning the form), I was--again--exhausted. I drove home, unloaded the car, and went straight to bed (no passing Go, no collecting $200).

Thursday, February 2, 2012:

I'm still tired. After my morning T'ai Chi Chih class, though, I felt better. This class has continued on for many years. Six? It is by far the longest class I've begun teaching ... and then continued ... and continued some more. There's a kinship, compassion, and caring in this circle that is a wonder to behold.

Of course, every member of this class makes it what it is and I feel thankful for the people who have passed through these classes and incredible gratitude for those who have made a choice to stay with the T'ai Chi Chih practice as the calendar pages turned and the years passed. We all help each other by sharing our energies, our insights, our struggles, and our joys. And, for me, this T'ai Chi Chih class has shown me the healing power of a community that offers each other compassion and acceptance as we travel along our individual and combined paths.

I have been indescribably blessed to share in the Cornucopia of people, ideas, movements, meditations, silence, and sounds (of the creaking wooden floor!?) of this special group of T'ai Chi Chih practitioners. Thank you all....