Tai Chi Y2D63: Filling Space

Today, I woke up late on a school day for the first time in over a year.  My sleep patterns have been wonky the past few days, and I’m tired, and I have energy at times that I want to be sleeping; and I’m tired at times I want to be working.  Part of it is too much caffeine abuse over the weekend.  It makes many things possible, but it also leaves me a little wiped out.

Anyway, because of this, I did tai chi and the qi gong forms in the Design Lab this morning.  And as a result of that, I had the recognition/realization that my office is such a comfortable space to do tai chi in, because my movements fill the whole space.  I have no furniture in the center of the room there, so that there’s space for tai chi to occur. But that means that my tai chi practice is office-shaped.

JC over at Rosicrucian Vault wrote a little bit about the shape of space in a recent blog post. Ancients and medievals associated the dodecahedron with the shape of space overall, and correspondingly divided space into a twelve-sided figure.  It’s a remarkably consistent thing, this twelve-fold division, partly because the motion of the sun across the sky over the course of a year divides nicely into roughly-equal twelve parts (which twelfths also happen to very roughly correspond with the motion of the Moon against the stars, sorta — I know I’m simplifying here, don’t judge me).

Zodiacal DodecahedronAnyway, the result of doing his mental exercise in pencil (if not yet colored papers and foamcore, and large enough to work on) was this little paper model, in which the sides of the dodecahedron are marked with the signs of the Zodiac.  If it were colored to represent the four elements, and additional signs were drawn on the sides to represent the Cardinal, Fixed and Mutable signs, and perhaps a line of gold drawn on it to represent the course of the sun through each sign of the Zodiac, it would be a fair three-dimensional model of the universe as ancient and medieval students explained it — perhaps not as they understood it to be, but at least as they initiated the conversation about its structure and its nature.

Maybe.  I’m guessing, I admit. A lot.

Yet underlying this simple paper model (download your own paper blank dodecahedron here) is an understanding of the universe as being a thing with boundaries and edges.  And I realized today during my practice that the way that I practice, and the place where I practice, has become the place where I feel most comfortable practicing.  And that needs to change.  I’ve traveled along this path for more than year, learning all kinds of things about my practice in one place (or mostly one place — there’s been bathrooms and kitchens and hotel rooms in the last year, too)… but I need to extend my practice.  I need to widen my conception of space, so that I can work the forms in larger environments and within larger boundaries, than just my usual practice space.

Anyway, that’s my insight today.


  1. Can you tell me the approximate size of the space you use to practice Tai Chi? I am watching a video as I learn and find my small front room too limiting.

    • The room where I probably work most often is about 15×15 feet. I keep it free of furniture quite deliberately, despite my parents’ best efforts to foist additional tools, materials and so on.

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