Tai Chi Y4D49: What a mess

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What a mess. Apparently in writing the D48 entry, I deleted or wrote-over the D47 entry. So the D47 entry is gone completely, and the D48 entry is published on the wrong day. Augh!  Sed non est terminum mundi.  It’s not the end of the world.  It’s just a technical foul-up.

Today I had the insight that establishing the breathwork pattern — inverse breathing requires pulling the abdomen in on the inhale, and letting it expand on the exhale, opposite natural breathing — is one of the keys of the work of tai chi.  It doesn’t actually work to start doing tai chi first and then try to set the breath pattern halfway through.  So I did that.

The result was one of the better tai chi experiences I can recall.  It’s difficult to put my finger on why I think it was one of my better tai chi experiences, of course.  I would say that I was slower than normal, but that’s not really what I mean.  No, I really mean something along the lines of “there was a qualitative shift in the nature of the chi working on this movement through the form.” The energy flowed differently, with a particular power, and deliberateness.  It felt like the difference between faking it and doing it.

A number of years ago, I went to the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, CO, to attend Fencing School, where I was certified as a Level 1 Foil coach. On my last day there, I received a stone (which I still have), when I went up to the Olympic Flame (it was lit for the Junior Paralympics, which were being held there at that time), and, with a printout of the oath to Zeus taken at the start of the Olympic Games in ancient Olympia, I took the oath of office of a coach and official.  I wish I’d written a better description of that experience at the time, but as I did so, a pumice stone popped in the cauldron of the Olympic flame, and tumbled onto the ground at my feet.  It was hot, but I was able to pick it up with a couple of sticks, and take it home with me.  Nine years on, it’s difficult to recall the ecstasy and joy I felt at that experience — of a magical moment arriving after five days of very difficult work.

But something about today feels very similar to that moment.  There was this sense, in the breathwork, of unlocking something new and wonderful, and being acknowledged in some way.  I’m looking forward to what comes next.

Search Term Trackback: April


Digital Ambler does this thing at the start/end of each month, where he lists the most common search terms for people who come to his blog, and explains where on his blog to find that material.

  • tattwa cards — apparently there are a lot of people out there looking for Tattwa Cards, because this has rapidly overtaken the Tree of Life and the Palace of Memory as the most important thing people are looking for when they come to this site. They’re here — a set of Tattwa Cards as a PDF that you can print out on a color printer and then cut out.
  • pony cliffs ashfield Pony Mountain is in Ashfield, MA, near Chapel Brook, which is one of the Massachusetts Reservations. I’ve done work there, and I like climbing there from time to time.
  • how to draw tree of lifeStill a popular favorite.  It’s amazing to me that there are people who go through a magical curriculum and never learn this.  I mean, this is kinda basic, right? Right?
  • tai chi one step at a time — I don’t think it’s possible to learn Tai Chi one step at a time.  I think mostly you learn three or four steps at a time, practice them obsessively, and then maybe pick up a few more steps.  It took me eight or ten weeks to learn the form, and I’ve been at it, off and on, since 1998.  However, you can try following the Tai Chi Poem.
  • memory palace lesson plan — I wrote a great deal about how to introduce a Palace of Memory project to a group of middle school students; the core documents and links to them are assembled here.  I’ve moved away from this in recent years, because the needs of my students and school has changed; but I remain convinced that it has both power and relevance.
  • how to add google calendar wiccan holidays — I put together a Graeco-Roman-Wicca themed Google Calendar a long while ago, which appears to be still-functioning; there are instructions attached to the post.  THere’s also quite a lot of poetry on this website for use with those festal days.
  • St Patrick primary source — I gathered together a good deal of information about St. Patrick, once upon a time, who turned out to be far more interesting than his legends about driving out the snakes would indicate.  I don’t know how many of the links are still active.
  • Mandala compass — I like making Mandalas, and because of my interest in geometry and teaching I frequently use a compass to do so.  Here’s some work that’s relevant to that.
  • Memory palaces for learning music — I don’t have a memory palace for learning music, because I’m not that good at learning music.  However, I think that you should/could arrange it as two separate “halls” with seven radiating corridors for the Circle of Fifths.  I hope this provides the necessary clues to get you started, along with other materials about the Palace of Memory, as indicated above.

Tai Chi Y4D48: Dummy

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Wrote a lengthy entry this morning, and then lost it due to some silly stuff with forgetting my WordPress skills, and copy-paste protocols.  Not sure I have time to write it again, now. Ugh.

First things first. Last night was the school auction.  Good food, good company, and a genuinely nice time.  The silent auction came first, where my Adirondack Chair and my pen-mandala of Langston Hughes’ “The Dream Keeper” were both up for sale.  “The Dream Keeper” sold for $175.  That’s about half of last year’s painting price, which is unexpectedly low, but still gives me a sense of what is possible with drawing vs. painting, even though (for me) both art forms take about the same amount of time.

The Adirondack Chair sold for $100. That’s disappointing.  The thing was far more hours to build and to learn to build than it took to craft the “Dream Keepers”, really. And it was offered at a value of $475 — but a new Adirondack chair of slightly lower-quality wood can be had for $200, and plastic one for under $50. So it’s normal that it didn’t go for much money, I guess. People wanted a bargain. Projects: Adirondack chairTai chi today was good. I did about 30 minutes, plus or minus 5 minutes, of tai chi practice. IT felt good, and got some of the kinks out of my system. I had a longer entry, as I said, and then lost it due to copy-paste issues (and accidentally posted yesterday’s entry twice in the process).

In essence, I was really pleased with the “moving through water” efforts of today’s working-through of the forms.  The breathwork was good, too.  There was more, of course, but that’s what stands out to me.

Disrupt and Repair has an article up, on the “Evolution Aesthetic“, which I was planning on touching on today.  It’s nice read, because he’s touching on one of Greer’s key themes (for me), which is “Apocalypse Not.” I’m having an ongoing discussion with my lady about my concerns with the current trajectory of the American experience, and the ongoing decline of industrial society.   She thinks I’m being despairing; and I think I’m being realistic about the choices being made and the directions those choices are leading us culturally and economically.

But I appreciate that here’s a rather different voice, crying in the wilderness, about the kinds of directions we can take.  It’s part of the reason I appreciate the ways in which being a design teacher is giving me permission to be a Maker, as well; and part of the reason why I appreciate that my tai chi practice is in part about keeping me healthy within the context of an overall health plan with access to medical professionals.   His metaphor of becoming a weed or parasite is an apt one — while it may be uncomfortable to think of one’s identity as a weed or parasite, in truth they’re well adapted to survival even when complex systems around them are collapsing.  And it’s frequently from weeds, in ecological succession patterns, that the new order and the new system emerge.

Tai Chi Y4D47

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[This entry was deleted by accident — ABW]

Hymn to Juno, Queen of the Gods


Jason Miller’s students are doing a global rite in honor of Juno, the queen of the gods, over the next few days, as part of his cyclical training of new students.  I’m not aware of any formal feast day for her at this time, other than their honoring of her at this time. But I have a hard time resisting an occasion for a good poem.  Or even a poem of any kind. I already wrote a poem for the Feast of All Heras on another occasion, which can be used as a supplement or a replacement for this one.  Here’s a 3-verse hymn or ode in honor of Juno, written today for the students of Mr. Miller to use as part of their rites if they wish:

Hail to thee, Juno, great mother and queen,
protectress of marriage, garden and hearth!
Your glittering raiment of peacock sheen
gleams fulgent with divinity and worth,
for you keep house with diligence and care,
well-ordering the lives beneath your roof,
and you see to the feasts and health of all.
The garden fence you keep in good repair;
you manage money with good sense and proof
of purchase; and true power is the shawl

upon your shoulders broad, which bear the weight
of mighty deeds and noble chores with ease;
for your will keeps families in happy state,
and your love unlocks, with jingling keys,
stores of cloth, food, and gossamer treasure —
of kind neighbors, good government and schools,
the warp and weft of both kindred and friends.
These you dispense, in judicious measure,
as though unwinding bright ribbon from spools—
for well-wrapped gifts make peace, and make amends,

and make acquaintance — and alliance, too.
Juno, be my friend, and teach me your way
to grow, to thrive, to manage and make do,
with one eye set on what I have today
while the other glances at tomorrow.
Maturity and Wisdom keep your house—
One cooks the meals while the other one cleans;
A cup of this sugar, may I borrow,
and the recipe for your type of grace—
the happy home that lives within its means?

Tai Chi Y4D46: Half an Hour

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It’s like the first day of school all over again.

Bracer prototypeFirst there was all this dawdle and delay about getting started.  There were dishes in the sink that needed washing, and I felt like I needed to brush my teeth before getting started. On and on, a list of small tasks; I even finished putting away the sewing equipment (from making this little bracer prototype from scrap cloth last night [which looks like it belongs in an 80’s rock video, truth be told]).

But then I got started. Finally. And I did a half an hour of tai chi.  Somewhere in the middle of it, my brain ‘flipped’ from not wanting to do it, to wanting to do it. It recognized at first that it was being pushed to do more than it had done before, and resisted.  And then, in the middle of the third or fourth walk-through of the form, it said, “Oh, ok. This is what you’re doing? More than once or twice? OK.  We can do this.”  And I did it.

Getting over that brain-flip, from not wanting to do it, to wanting to do it, was the battle of the day. I have this suspicion that there will be more such battles ahead, and not all of them will be pretty at all.  But — the effort to collect more time in my tai chi practice has begun, and we’ll see how that goes.

Tai Chi Y4D45: Let’s Do This

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This morning, I did my two qi gong forms. Then I did my tai chi form about four times, taking about 35 minutes to work through it that many times.  In total, I spent about 40 minutes doing tai chi this morning.

If I’m going to work towards doing an hour of tai chi daily — then I have to do an hour of tai chi daily.  And that means hitting some specific goals and intentions along the way.  That means that I have to build up my practice so that I’m hitting the 45 minute mark pretty regularly without getting bored or annoyed, or stopping. And that means, of course, one thing particularly.

Doing the tai chi.

Let’s DO THIS.

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