Today I reversed my usual order, and did the Form, Five Golden Coins, and Eight Pieces of Silk. It was weird — like doing a completely different routine, really. All the snap-crackle-pop was in a completely different place and times in the routine than usual. There were unexpected tightnesses in places, like the first Snake Creeps Down in the form, but very easy bits, like Carrying Milk to Heaven, which is the last posture in Five Golden Coins. Overall, an interesting and useful exercise.
(Far more annoying to me is the discovery that Safari’s new command-I key no longer defaults to let the WordPress site treat that as an italics directive… which means unlearning keyboard shortcuts for writing this blog that helped me with my workflow and my writing process. Argh! What a way to discover that command-I now opens up a new e-mail!? No!)
Back to tai chi. Reversing order put a lot of things into perspective about the risks of habits. By doing the elements of my practice in a different order, I realized how much inattention I’d applied to breath. Breath is fundamental to a tai chi practice, possibly to any practice of any kind at all. And I’d been neglecting it in favor of making my right foot hit my left hand and my right hand during a Windmill Kick (Curse you, Safari! Ok, I’m done now. It’s just a habit, and it can be unlearned just as it was learned). Being aware of each stretch is also valuable, and I’d forgotten that part of the practice too. We keep coming back to the awareness that habits of body are as awkward as habits of mind; that habits of mind are just that — habits, automatic responses, which may or may not keep serving us.
Deborah Castellano’s piece today is about learning to innovate enough in your practice. I don’t innovate enough when it comes to tai chi. It’s just the three forms, over and over and over again. But, like the rest of the magical community, I’m started reading Financial Sorcery by Jason Miller this morning, and it includes being reminded again and again about the importance of changing your set point… what do you have? What do you want? How will you get it? I have a couple of set-points that I need to change, with regard to weight, financial success, and the design work I’m doing, and I think it’s powerful stuff. Good book, read it, buy it, borrow it.
But the point here is that we can’t get hung up on habits of mind or of body. I had a conversation yesterday with a friend of mine, and it amounted to the first strategical-magical consultation I’ve ever really performed. In the conversation, it became clear that this person had gotten all hung-up on the habits of going out, finding a job, and trying to make ends meet within that realm of options. That’s what you do, right?
Instead, I pointed out that the kind of life she wanted to live was conducive to starting a sole proprietorship type of business. She did a lot of business-related travel; she did a lot of work in her house (or more often in other people’s houses); she arranged her life and her world in a lot of ways that made business sense… but she wasn’t treating the expenses of those aspects of her life as business expenses. Just as I’d fallen into the habit of doing Five Gold Coins and Eight Pieces of Silk and the Form, day in and day out, she’d gotten used to the idea that the money flowing in came only from her employer (and not from her very own clients), and that her expenses were hers and hers alone to figure out how to pay.
I’m not a financial advisor, and this blog post is about tai chi and daily practice rather than money. But I think that Deb is onto something this morning, as is Jason in Financial Sorcery (and apparently, now, me too…). Break up habits from time to time, if only to see what beasts are lurking underneath.