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We Did It, All By Ourselves!

I had one of those moments the other day in practice, when my arms and legs just seemed to know what they were doing, and they just did it in the most easy and perfect manner.

Daodejing

And it reminded me of  chapter 17 from the Dao De Jing (Tao Te Ching).

When the master governs, the people are hardly aware that he exists……The master doesn’t talk, she acts. When his work is done, the people say, ‘Amazing, we did it, all by ourselves!’”  ( Stephen Mitchell, translator)

The Dao De Jing (Tao Te Ching) is a guide for both the microcosm and the macrocosm, seeing how it is in heaven and earth, describing principles of governance for political systems, we can see this also applies to human social activity, and even to the activity within each of our own bodies.

Regarding my body’s movement in the taiji form, if I replace ‘master’ with ‘mind’ and ‘people’ with ‘limbs’, this is the feeling I had moving in the form. If the arms and legs could speak, they might’ve said , ”Amazing, we did it, all by ourselves!”

Let the mind reside in dantien

We learn the choreography of the form, so that the deeper taiji lessons can be practiced. One of these deeper lessons involves teaching the heart-mind, the Yi, to govern with less effort, to act and not talk, to reside in stillness, at center. The mind must learn to let the limbs move according to their inherent structure, in accord with the shape and function of the joints, muscles, sinews and tendons of the limbs themselves, without hindrance from the mind’s ideas.

Wu Wei

The mind’s job is to lead without leading; wu wei.  Wu wei refers to the Daoist notion of ‘doing without doing” or “non-action action” Wu wei refers to the state of being in which our actions are effortlessly in alignment with the ebb and flow of the elemental cycles of the natural world. This alignment allows us – without even trying – to respond perfectly to whatever situations arise.

In this case, it is natural for the heart-mind to lead the body, and so it must be the organizing force around which the limbs coordinate.  The mind must hold the shape of the form, but it must back off, and let the body express the form according to the natural tendencies and structures of the body.

At least that is what it felt like for a moment or two.

Til the Next Move, enjoy your practice –

Dorian

The Taiji Circle

The Taiji Circle is such a great graphic!

In one elegant and simple design it conveys so much meaning.  A circle with an S curving through the middle, one half white, the other half black, and each side with a dot of the other side’s color in it.

Seems no matter how long this symbol has been a part of my life, the meaning to which it points goes ever deeper.   The symbol refers to the yin-yang philosophy that the dualistic nature of all that we see in the world can be understood not as mutually exclusive contrary opposites, but as complementary to, arising from and dissolving back and forth into each other.  Night becomes day, summer becomes winter, etc.

Qualities, not Things

Yin and yang are qualities, or aspects of things, they don’t exist on their own.  No thing that exists, exists in isolation or absolutely.  And therefore, no one thing is yin, and no one thing is yang – but everything may be yin or yang relative to something else.   And the same thing maybe yin in one regard and yang in another regard, relative to a single other thing. It’s just not as simple as black and white.

No Conflict

Seems to me the human challenge is to recognize the harmony among the opposites. Black and white relate to one another, and black and white have the seed of their opposite within.  I find this incredibly valuable to remember – especially when I am in what feels like conflict with someone else.  Whatever I feel is in opposition, I first notice the seed of that in me, in my position, and then I remember that my position exists in relation to theirs – this gives me the ability to accept their position, without abandoning my own and points the way toward some resolution reflected in the greater whole.

The Whole

Right! The greater whole – the circle in which all this dualistic interplay is happening. For ultimately, there is something which cannot be talked about or described, because it is not subject to the yin and yang of life, but encompasses them both.  For me, this is where blogging stops and the practice of taiji begins. Moving through 108 moves of my taiji form, I feel the harmonious interplay of all the seemingly opposing forces – up and down, advance and retreat, form and emptiness, mind and body, and on and on and on…..

Til the next move, enjoy your practice

Dorian

Sword Play

This past Saturday was a curriculum study day, and I have to say it was so much fun! What a great group of taiji players and students.

Sensing Swords

We practiced form together – a nice long 40-minute set – and then after a little sensing hands practice,  we tried out our sensing skills with the sword.

Yep, we put the double-edge weapon in our hands, and together began our exploration of the magic and majesty of the sword. A great introduction! Marveling at the swords ability to amplify our intentions and show us ourselves so clearly, we laughed heartily and focused mindfully.

Song of the Taiji Sword

From the beginning the way of the sword has been difficult to hand down

Like a dragon and rainbow it is very subtle and abstruse

Should it be used like that of a hacking knife

The old sword immortal San-Feng would die of laughter

(Y.K. Chen, trans by S.A. Olson, Tai Chi Sword, Sabre, & Staff)

So far, so good – the only laughter we heard was our own!

Nice work everyone. (and for those of you who missed it….there’ll be more, for sure!)

Til the next move,

Enjoy your practice

Dorian

A Name for My Blog

I write these blogs to help me digest my own taiji lessons, to share my journey with my students, and to possibly, provide some entertaining and sometimes enlightening reading for other travelers on the mind-body-spirit connection journey.

Why call it The Next Move?

I decided to call this whole blog thing “The Next Move” for a couple of reasons.

One is that there is a forward momentum to the phrase, and I am feeling like I could use a little forward momentum in my life, these days.  (Of course, by now, you would think I would know better than to ask for change. Change happens.)

Another reason has to do with the taiji class experience. While learning the 108-move long form of Yang’s style taijiquan, there are many opportunities to study and practice the move we are learning.  And there is also a feeling of anticipation and excitement about learning the next move.  I wanted to bring a little bit of that excitement to this blog.

So, as I go forth into my next move, I hope to keep what I’ve acquired – lessons learned, goodwill, some peace of mind, and let go of what no longer serves – all the worries and fears, doubts and expectations.

I hope you will subscribe to my blog and check back often –

Til the next move,

Enjoy your practice

Dorian

I’m Blogging Again

This new website is in progress – and I am getting excited about blogging again.

I plan to write at least once a week and sometimes more.

And I will be sharing my thoughts about Taijiquan (Tai Chi), Qigong (Chi Kung), push hands, the Taiji weapons of Saber, Sword and Spear, Chinese healing arts,  philosophy, life as a journey and the great lessons that Tai Chi offers, self-healing, alternative medicine, Five Elements, Taoism, and sometimes I am sure I will not be able to resist talking about my ukulele or my corgi, Maggie!

I hope you will check back often and join the discussion when something interests you.