The Meditative Movement of Tai Chi
Three years ago, I wanted to find something else to challenge my mind body connection. My intent was to create new neural pathways in my brain. I came across an article talking about the benefits of Tai Chi to people suffering from MS and Parkinson’s. And while I did not suffer from those ailments, I had similar symptoms: poor balance and memory issues.
I went online and found the Taoist Society (now called Fung Loy Kok Institute of Taoism or FLK for short). There were offering classes near me and they had a beginners class starting that very weekend.
Not familiar with Tai Chi? Here is a video of a group working through the 108 moves of Master Moy’s Taoist Tai Chi. It has been called the “moving mediation” and I agree.
I went to the weekend class and was hooked. It was not easy. It was challenging as hell. I stumbled, I forgot constantly, I lost my balance a lot. The biggest hurdle for me was learning in a group setting surrounded by real people. I’ve worked online for the last ten (plus) years — in this class I could actually reach out and touch someone. This aspect turned out to be a whole new re-learning social curve for me.
For the first two years I went to two, two hour classes a week as well as many workshops. I wanted to learn the sequence of moves to help my memory, and I wanted to improve my balance. I improved both as well as many other facets.
Tai Chi showed me how physically weak I was. It is a misleading art that looks incredibly gentle. For the most part it is, but you still have to build up a certain amount of strength, endurance, and flexibility.
It took a long time before I noticed any benefits. I would say probably a year and a half. And that is with four hours a week of class time plus at least another two hours of private practice.
One day, I had this eureka moment, when I stepped over the dog. I stepped over her without thinking and was like, “Wait, I just stepped over the dog!” I was so excited. Previously, I would make her move or plan how I was going to brace myself on a piece of furniture so I could step over her. During this time I still had a great fear of falling. It was at that moment, I knew Tai Chi was helping me. It was worth all the frustration I had been experiencing in the beginning.
I haven’t been able to attend classes since the pandemic started but I am working on self-practice a few times a week.
Here is perfect example of, “If you don’t use it, you lose it” that I am trying to avoid. I skipped a few weeks in the beginning of the pandemic. When I went back to my practice, it was not as smooth. I inadvertently missed moves and had to retrace my steps. My neuro pathways had already started to fill in my Tai Chi pathways with Netflix. 😉
With my current schedule I am practicing at least 2-3 times a week. I’m maintaining.