It’s easy to get caught in a linear, progress-oriented way of thinking about your practice. What’s new? What can I learn next? Am I improving…all the time. You get so caught up in doing it right and refining every little detail that you can lose sight of the what’s really great about practice in the first place…the restoration, integration, and feeling of wholeness you can walk away with each time.
Why is it that sometimes you feel confident, connected, and at ease and other times you get flustered, disoriented and nothing seems to come together? According to Greek poet Archilocus, “we don’t rise to the level of our expectations, we fall to the level of our training.” Now does that mean that every possible situation you go through needs to be practiced, rehearsed, and trained? That seems a little overwhelming!
I’m on day 4 of daily practice by the ocean, but it’s more than that. We’re staying right on the beach, so I get to soak up the energy of the ocean pretty much all day long. Now, I didn’t used to have any sense for what “the energy of the ocean” meant and like pretty much everything else energetic, I’m sure my sense for it will evolve even more, but I want to share my experiences from this week with you anyway.
“At some point, don’t we have to ask ourselves, “Aren’t I healthy enough?” Don’t I need to work on “waking up”, on manifesting kindness and patience, and being other oriented?” That’s from a conversation we’ve been having in the Inner Form discussion group and it got me thinking. You might be learning to cultivate your chi to heal old injuries or for the inner experience of meditative exploration, but at some point, shouldn’t your practice extend into the world around you, to the people in your life, and your work?
We often talk about the way Tai Chi can improve your physical health and mental and emotional well-being from the point of view of the practitioner. But not everyone out there is as familiar with practical ways to use Tai Chi to support their health and wellness goals as you may be. Later this year, I’m thrilled to have the chance to share Tai Chi with physicians in a course at Harvard Medical School.
I was talking to a friend last night about standing qigong and different meditation traditions that we had both tried. When we say “meditation” in this context, we were including all practices like breathing for relaxation, Tai Chi, qigong, and sitting practices too. Part of what I’d like to hear from you (see below) is how you define “meditation” in a way that’s practical and part of your everyday life.
Having the luxury of a full month of training this summer has made me step back and reflect on my own personal practice over the last 13 years. I tried to put together some of what this process has been like for me and sum it up here. I’m curious to know what you think. Have you gone through periods of practicing without a teacher? Have you had times where you’ve made huge strides in your practice?
I’m on vacation this week in Telluride, Colorado. Telluride nestled into a box canyon, with peaks jutting up all around it. Pretty amazing scenery and hiking around at 10,000 feet gives you plenty of time to think. Whenever I come to a place like this, I always play the game of “What If I Lived Here”, where I try to envision life as a local. Compared to what I hear about some ski towns, by the way, Telluride has a nice mellow blend of local vibe and constant visitor turn over.