I recently started studying Tai Chi with a Sensei (Master) who’s almost 69 years old. He moves gracefully and powerfully and also looks great. I was sent to him by the Orishas, the divinities in my religion (Yoruba), whom I trust to guide me in directions that will benefit me. They did not tell me specifically to study Tai Chi with this particular Sensei or even to study Tai Chi at all but this is what I believe they were saying to me when they said that something from the Far East would come into my life that would benefit me. I put the pieces together on my own which is how it’s supposed to work with information we receive on a spiritual level.
Thus far, it seems like a good choice. A former patient of mine began studying Tai Chi while she was still in treatment with me. I’ve seen it benefit her greatly, including significant weight loss, so that was an additional impetus (not specifically the weight loss but the overall benefits).
Having had three lessons thus far, I’m finding myself challenged in ways that I had not anticipated.
For starters, I am being called upon to have lots of patience. Not that I don’t have any (which I do) but even more so than I’m used to demonstrating. The lessons seem to move slowly with a lot of talk and not a lot of practice of the postures. I find that I have difficulty remembering what we did when I leave. The only thing I’ve ever done on a once-a-week basis is psychotherapy. Any athletic/sports/dance pursuit has been more frequent. It seems easier for it to become part of my muscle-memory that way. Initially I thought my forgetfulness was a sign of my advancing age, but was told by my Sensei that it was not. So I’m trying to be patient – with myself, the process and his instructional style.
Another challenge is the slowness and fluidity of the Tai Chi itself. It’s hard, I’m learning, to slow down while moving. Tai Chi is very dance-like but my dance experience has included Jazz, African and Afro-Cuban styles – never the more lyrical and slower-paced ballet. Even the slower dances for specific divinities in my faith are not THIS slow! So once again, a challenge for someone whose primary physical activities include bicycling, hiking, cross-country skiing, snowshoeing and swimming and dancing for Orisha.
Perhaps the most challenging aspect of all is the spiritual. Tai Chi is based on the Chinese concept of Tao. From my limited understanding thus far, Tao is more of a philosophical perspective on life and living, but it is also spiritual and seems to include some aspects of divination. I can resonate to that but wonder how I’ll do with the non-action and not forcing and not analyzing aspects of Tao. We Yoruba are very active in our life pursuits on a spiritual and religious level. Tao is definitely not a religion. What I do know is that it is very much based in nature and natural phenomena. I look forward to finding out how this plays out and how it is related to the practice of Tai Chi.
So for now, it’s on to lesson number four. I’m remembering a bit more each time but am still struggling to carve out even a small amount of time to practice during the week. That’s critical to studying anything. I feel like I don’t know enough to practice (what I remember can be done in about 15 seconds!). Even repeating it several times I have a hard time doing it for more than 5 – 7 minutes. It’s a paradox I know – it only takes a little time but I can’t find the time! That’s certainly something to meditate on.
© Copyright 2010 by Kalila Borghini, LCSW, therapist in New York City, New York. All Rights Reserved. Permission to publish granted to GoodTherapy.org.
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