Thursday, October 24, 2013


And Daily Life

I'm not a savior or a guru, but I am a teacher and I do my best through teaching T'ai-Chi to help people have better balance, spatial awareness, alignment, relaxation, responsiveness, and some self defense options as well.

There is much self-inflicted pain that can be avoided simply by instilling good posture and muscle use. There is also much pain that is inflicted by others, whether by people, objects, or forces like gravity, that can also be avoided or at least mitigated, with the kinds of skills and awareness that a physical discipline like T'ai-Chi can bring.

But I'm not doing any of this to fix the world, or to fix the problem of people hurting other people. I'm doing it because it's my nature to study and teach this stuff.

I would say in a general way that studying and teaching T'ai-Chi, has improved all of my relationships by making me more conscious of my boundaries (my "yes" and my "no" as the Tao Te Tching calls them). I feel better able to defend them and to let them down, as the need arises.

From studying internal arts, all of my capacities are on more of a "dimmer switch" than an "on and off" switch, so this has helped me be more nuanced and less reactive in my relationships.

Also, some of my friends, including my wife, are actually students and practice partners, so we can practice together adding a whole new layer to our ongoing "conversation".

And, I feel more sensitive to my own inner sense of balance and rightness, as well as my own needs and the needs of my friends. I feel better able to feel in general.

I've also learned a lot about the relationship between attitudes and emotions and how people hold and move their bodies and this had given me lots of insight into why people behave the way they do and what a particular person might be like under their skin.

The effects of T'ai-Chi on my relationships is one of the main reasons I study T'ai-Chi and one of the main reasons I enjoy teaching it to other people. Gurus tell you how to live and ask for a certain kind of obedience. I just like helping people with their balance and giving them the tools to be their own gurus.

Balance is always dynamic, never static. A friend once told me that he considered the true test of martial arts to be the workplace, where he would ask this question: Can I get through this day, week, month, year, life, without injuring myself, anyone I work with, or any thing I work with? I tend to agree with this assessment. Even if you work at a desk, try doing that for 10 years with bad posture or attitude, and see what gravity does to you. Being attacked by ninjas is pretty unlikely, but chances are pretty good you will have to do some work in this life.

One benefit of martial training is that while we may not be in a combat situation very often, we are always in a physical situation, one where the consequences or inattention, sloppiness or lack of responsiveness can be just as harmful. Being tuned into your center of balance, the forces of momentum around you, the size and weight of the objects and people around you, their centers of balance, their strengths and weaknesses, spatial awareness, etc. can be a great help to navigate this world with minimal injury, even if you never throw a "real" punch in your life.

1 comment:

  1. To whom it many concern: I have a lot blog posts like this ready at any given time. Very rarely do I end up posting publicly the most recent one I've written. I wrote this about 2 years ago. Whenever I feel like posting something here, I look at this list I have of potential blog posts that are either ready or pretty close to ready. The one that gets my attention the strongest is usually the one I post. There are several reasons why I do it this way. One is that I really don't like writing on demand. I like to write when the inspiration hits me and I want to write about whatever that inspiration is about. Doing it this way I can write whenever and whatever I want and still have a bunch of options to choose from when it comes time to actually post something. On any given day, what I feel inspired to write about and what I feel inspired to post might be very different. Another reason I do it this way is that when I do, I feel like I'm in the grip of some kind of synchronistic tide. Like I'm serving some mysterious intention larger than my own. I don't know what the outcome will be but I trust that if I do what feels most deeply right, I'll be playing my part in this larger intention. And I think an unforced life is about finding my part not writing it. So while I do occasionally post something on the same day I write it, and of course I post my monthly newsletters and album announcements here, this is mostly how I do it. I add to my blog post collection whenever I feel moved to and then from there decide what to post and when. GB