Day 92: You Don’t Need Much

You don’t need much to start a tai ji program.  Even after 92 days, I’m reminded of this again, and again.  I get up, rarely even taking off my pajamas, and I go into the office. I’ve set the office up so that it has the maximum amount of floorspace, and I do the work. Today, that meant five golden coins, and the form, and eight pieces of silk.  You do the work, and then it’s done.

Last night at the dance, when I wasn’t sketching, I found myself ‘dancing’ a little bit using taiji moves.  It’s awkward – for the kids and for us adults – for chaperons to dance at a middle school dance.  So I was discreet about it: no elaborate moves in the middle of the dance floor.  Can you do taiji while some DJ is playing “teach me how to dougie”? I guess I can. But no one would want to watch.

A friend of mine goes to meditation three times a week, and sometimes I get to go with him. The thing is, there’s no way to rack up the thousands of hours of practice that help one achieve most of meditation’s physical and emotional benefits by going three times a week. Three hours a week gets you to Malcolm Gladwell’s mythic 10,000 hours of practice after almost 65 years. One has to be meditating, or nearly meditating, all the time:  the 20 minutes in the waiting room at the doctor’s office, the 3 minutes here or there while waiting in lines, the 11 minutes stalled in traffic.   The goal is not solely to go deep within, of course, but to become more fully aware.

I think taiji is the same way.  Moving through the form in a formal way, twenty minutes a day, isn’t enough to make a huge difference.  It’s the changes that it induces in how you walk, how you stand, how you move and how you breathe over the long haul, that make the difference.  It’s the tiny, informal bits picked up along the edges of a middle school dance that bring change to the body, mind, and spirit.

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