Tai chi Y3D1: Three Breaths

This morning, I woke at my usual hour, 5:00am.  I rose and did my druidic work, and meditated for a bit, and then I did my qi gong forms. They were considerably more energetic and forceful than they’ve been in a while, and I had to walk around a bit between the two qi gong forms and the tai chi form.

As I began, I remembered that my teacher had said how important it was to take three breaths before beginning the tai chi form. So, I stopped. And I did the three breaths.  Three long, slow, gloriously easy breaths in, and out.  As my body filled with oxygen, my mind cleared, and I became calm after the high energy of the qi gong forms.  It’s always nice to begin a new cycle, and today is no exception. Today especially.

Those three breaths were sufficient to radically slow down my tai chi practice today.  And I deepened my practice far more than I have in the last two years.  I rode deeply into the world of the form, and slowed down substantially.  Each movement took three or four or five breaths to complete, it seemed.  I never felt completely lost in the form, though — I had the sense of being awake and alert through the whole form, as opposed to being in la-la land.  The robotics of the form didn’t take over, either. Instead, I was fully present and fully aware of what was happening.  It was one of the best days of practice I’ve ever had in my life.

The three breaths put me in the right mood and mindset to slow down, and to slow down radically.  It was kind of like my body knew I was beginning a new cycle, and this was the right time to shift into the slow gears of the practice, before bad habits got set in the new year.

It was so good, and so long, in fact, that when I sat down to begin writing this entry, it took me several minutes to understand that my tai chi work — which normally takes me 20 minutes or so for all three elements — had taken me more than an hour. And that I was going to be late for work.

I got dressed and got cleaned up and raced off… and I was late to work. Fortunately not late to teaching, but late to school in any case.  Not a great way to begin the third year of practice, perhaps — and yet it was delicious.  I feel awake and alert and wonderfully alive with chi, even now, more than two hours after completing the form.  What a great way to begin.


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