Taiji Day 320: Waiting on Snow

Yesterday I ended my day with the Yoga Sun Salutation.  It was difficult.  I haven’t done a Sun Salutation in months… ok, most of a year, in fact. But I’m thinking about adding it to my evening practice.

But today I delayed my tai chi, and delayed my tai chi, on and on, until almost 5:30 am.  I kept waiting for the ping of the phone next to my bed to tell me we had a snow day, or a delay.  Nothing. Nothing appeared.  Eventually I got up and looked out of a window.  The roads were clear.  Completely clear.  Maybe there’s black ice out there, maybe there isn’t, but it looks like I’ve got school today (even though when I looked outside late last night, it seemed like a possibility).

My aunt the therapist says that you can’t change other people’s behavior, but only your response to it; and of course, that old standby, insanity is doing the same thing over and over, expecting a different result.   And I think that tai chi is the same way. People will mock you or ask, “why are you doing that?” And they’ll wonder why you don’t just go to the gym to lift weights and jog on a treadmill or pedal a standing bicycle.  Better results, they’ll tell you.

But waiting to do tai chi is like waiting for a snow day when the roads have already been plowed.  There’s no point to waiting in bed for the phone to ring to tell you there’s a snow day — a quick look outside will tell you as much, so just look outside right away — AND THEN do the tai chi. It’s the same Dweller on the Threshold problem that we always face.  I always feel better after I do tai chi, so why didn’t I just get up and… you know… do it?

Once I got up, of course, I had a great workout.  The movements were at the proper speed, not too fast, in fact rather on the slow side.  I felt the stretches in my triceps and deltoid, and I had a good horse stance through most of the three forms.  Progress, obviously.  The challenge, as always, is not in doing the work, but in starting the work.

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  1. I completely understand your post. It’s very much me. I have a great deal of difficulty starting projects when something about it looks overwhelming, which a cold, very early morning, when a snow-day is expected, would be to me.

    However, just for your interest, I would like to point out that that’s not so for everyone. From the perspective of Chinese Medicine, particularly modern Five Element (Worsleyian and similar) Theory and also Homeopathy, different constitutions face different challenges. That’s difficult for most people to understand and to remember unless they have been trained to consider it, like a practitioner of those Arts has been.

    So in our case, it’s tough to get started, but if we can surmount that hurdle, then the rest of the project flows to completion and we beat our selves up for not just “you know…. doing it,” in the first place. But other people, have no problem getting started, but cannot maintain that momentum and peter out in the middle. Others can start and work and work and work and can never bring themselves to bring a project to completion; here you can think of authors that have to have their book manuscripts pried out of their hands by the publisher.

    For me, it would be interesting were you to find yourself a Five Element Acupuncturist or a Homeopath, particularly a Sensation Method Homeopath, undergo some constitutional treatment and see if anything changes.

    But for you (and everyone, myself included), as a very conscious teacher, I think it might be important to meditate on idea that different people (students) have different constitutional strengths and weaknesses from our own. There should be no judgment in this, it’s no different from hair or skin color. Some people just face a different challenge and have also different strengths. But most people have a difficult time recognizing and remembering that their own strengths and weaknesses, their fundamental experience of the world and “how things ARE”, is discrete and different from that of others based very much in a fundamental, unalterable, unique, constitution. Just like hair color, it can be worked with, covered up, styled, and so on but underneath it’s still just there as it was at birth in this lifetime.

    I love your blog, especially the entries about your practice. It’s always thought-provoking and usually inspirational… for today, you have inspired me to just DO IT! (To get ON that bike in the dark and cold, and the rest will just flow 🙂

    • I appreciate you taking the time to write such a long post.

      I find that there are levels and complications involved in tai chi that I’d never considered, like Five-Element theory or homeopathy. That there are people who are slow to get started but fast to get finished, or that there are people who have a hard time starting or finishing, hadn’t really occurred to me. And yet, it’s a built-in assumption of the Western Mysteries that people are tied to an elemental force, and a Zodiacal force, and a planetary force — and all of these will have an effect on character. So thank you for the reminder.

      • You are welcome! You write me far more than I write you, after all 😉

        Isn’t it interesting that whatever philosophical yardstick one uses, the fundamental ideas are much the same? The deep Teaching of the Western Mysteries teach a very similar idea to modern Five Element Acupuncture practice, that has a similar idea to Homeopathy, that has a similar idea to Buddhism… I love it. It is our challenge, as the journeymen upon the Path to Awakening, to find a way to remember to get our perspective out of our own skin, to remember that the “way this ARE” in our universe is not necessarily the “way things ARE” in our neighbor’s universe. At least IMHO.

        Ok. So OFF I go (just back away from the keyboard, lol…) never mind the cold and the dark… to just DO IT! Thanks!

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