A Personal Spiritual
"Taiji, by opening body, also opens the mind and heart. The results can sometimes be both unpleasant and disconcerting… We all expend a great deal of energy (psychic) carrying garbage around in our hearts and heads. It is locked away in the muscle and bone, and layers and layers of self-delusion. If we are serious about cultivating self-awareness, we have to get it out, confront it and deal with it."
Steve Higgins –from Tai Chi as a Method of Spiritual Training,Tai Chi Magazine, Vol 21, No. 1
My own initial experience with Tai Chi reflects this statement perfectly. Indeed, as time went by, my reaction passed from unpleasant and disconcerting to utter frustration and rage.
Since early childhood I have had a balance problem (investigated and confirmed by a specialist physician) as well as very poor co-ordination which was quite possibly caused by a severe electric shock at age four. Activities requiring balance and co-ordination (sport and dancing) were largely avoided by me because of feelings of failure and insecurity. These emotions led to a mental block. My lack of confidence would never allow me to remember sequential moves in physical skills. You cannot practise what you cannot remember and hence fall further and further behind.
These feelings of utter hopelessness began to eat deeper into my psyche and as the layers of other unrelated and unresolved conflicts and failings started to emerge, my whole being began slowly to become destabilized. My physical health suffered too. Stress related conditions arose, sinus, headaches, shingles, arthritis and bursitis all made life unpleasant and painful. Major health problems loomed.
I had to make some hard decisions. Should I regard Tai Chi as another failure? If I did give up, conflicts would still be there ready to surface again at some other vulnerable time. Besides which, I really wanted to learn Tai Chi.
The solution gradually unfolded over several months. It was necessary to face up to past disappointments and to dispose of this emotional "garbage" which had been tagging along behind me all those years.
The next decision was in many ways much more difficult. Very reluctantly I realised that I would need to find a different type of Tai Chi group. My psyche was recovering but my physical problem was still present. To leave the familiar and friendly faces was a spiritual leap across an abyss of the unknown. Would I again be courting failure? Despite these doubts I knew I had to take the plunge.
What I needed was expert professional instruction from people specially trained to teach a broader range of ability levels which could cater for people with significant problems such as myself.
I have now been with my new group for a few months and I feel well on the path to being spiritually recharged. Thanks to the professional teaching techniques and a definite sequential teaching program, I am actually learning a new form each week and having no problem in practising and keeping up. I am experiencing success not failure.
To my very first instructors, I give due thanks for igniting the spark of my love of Tai Chi; however, any spark must fall and glow amongst the tinder or it will simply die, probably never to be rekindled again.
"Better Health Tai Chi Chuan" is now my home. For anyone, whether they have problems or not, it is a great group to join where you meet lots of other happy people. Keep up the good work.
Sylvia R. Henry