Tai Chi in the Park

Stone  Tai Chi

Twice a week, when I am in San Francisco, I go for walks with a friend and neighbor, Laura. We walk up around Dolores Park, and we chat about random things. I help her with thinking about her online presence, and she cooks food for me in trade on those days. That’s awesome because she is a major foodie, and an excellent cook! It’s an awesome barter set up.

We also do Tai Chi together on most of the walks. Laura used to be a student of mine when I was teaching Tai Chi regularly at a local yoga studio. I don’t teach regularly anymore, but Laura and I do a few sets on our walks.

It’s a great feeling to get some movement and mindfulness in on a sunny (and today windy) day in the park. We practice on a flat bit of concrete near the new kids playground, and the giggle and smiles from the kids are always a treat.

Today it brought up a lot of gratitude for me from my first 1,000 day vow. That vow was to do Tai Chi every day. I got a little crazy with my practice in those days. What started with 25 minutes a day ballooned up (while I ballooned down) to about 5 hours a day. I got pretty nuts about it.

I don’t see myself going back to 5 hours a day, but after that 1,000 days Tai Chi became part of who I am. It’s always there for me, at a moments notice. If I start to get uncomfortably stiff from being at the keyboard all morning, I can get up and go through a few movements and have my whole system pumped, and limbered. During my vow it got so deep into my system that many nights I would dream of practicing for hours, working on my form while I slept. Those dreams come by occasionally in little snippets, and I always wake up feeling refreshed after.

When I took my initial vow it was to make Tai Chi a habit. I came away with so much more than a habit. Tai Chi infused my whole system. Now doing Tai Chi is not doing Tai Chi, it’s just me being me. No matter what, I will always have Tai Chi with me to help keep my system healthy and strong.

It’s the same with my second vow of meditation. I have yet to take a day off from that practice, and I really don’t see that happening. Having been through the commitment of the vow, meditation is now something I always have at my disposal. I can take a pause, take a breath, and be back here and now. What used to sometimes take great effort, is now easy.

That’s the special characteristic of a vow of a number of days of practice. (You don’t have to go for 1,000, but I’m not going to stop you. 😉 ) Whatever you practice becomes something more than a practice. It becomes part of your life.

I thought I would share this bit of gratitude with you today. I hope you enjoyed it. Now if you don’t mind, I’m going to do a set of Tai Chi in my studio.


Keep These In Your Pocket

Life can be tough to navigate and deal with sometimes.  For my money it’s a good idea to have some tools & tricks to deal with the bugger when it goes pear-shaped, or gets weird.

I once read that the reason why Buddhism is given in lists (4 noble truths, 8 fold path, 3 root poisons, etc) is because the Buddha taught before such things were written down, and it is easier to remember lists.  Being as I have a terrible memory, I can really get behind the idea of keeping it simple.

To that end I think there are a few things everyone could use to keep handy.

A way to keep fit that you enjoy. For me that’s Aikido and Tai Chi.  Those have the added bonus of keeping me a bit safer too.  Tai Chi is awesome for its portability.  I also collect odd body-weight exercises that I can always do should I need a quick workout.

Some level of knowledge of how to keep your system fueled. Here I am thinking about a modicum of knowledge about food and how to make healthy choices.  I also have a simple food-plan I picked up from my active time in OA – three meals a day, no snacks, no sweets, no peanut butter, no pizza.  That combined with a basic fear of fast food keeps me well fueled.

A philosophical model/modality that helps you get through life. I keep a few basic truisms close to hand – “The map is not the territory”, “Opinion is not fact”, “We all see through our own distinct reality-tunnels”, and my personal favorite, “All statements are true in some sense, false in some sense, meaningless in some sense, true and false in some sense, true and meaningless in some sense, false and meaningless in some sense, and true and false and meaningless in some sense.”  I also like, “Don’t be that guy”, and (thanks to Diane) “Just be cool, dude.”  I also like Buddhism for compactness and a basic strong grounding in psychology, Taoism for simplicity, and the Integral Model for catch all applicability/orientation.

A way to connect to the truth. Atma Vichara and Meditation are my mainstays here. Atma Vichara you can find out about (my take on it) here.  For Meditation you can poke around my tagged posts here.  The vichara gets me zeroed in on the basic truth of what I am, and by extension since there really is not-two in this reality, the truth of everything.  That may be a bold statement, but luckily the truth cannot be spoken so i don’t have to bother to try.  😉  Meditation helps me develop equanimity and sharpens my awareness.  Two very useful skills for dealing with this wacky world.

What are some of your tools for getting along in life?  I would love to hear them!