Tai Chi Y4D49: What a mess

What a mess. Apparently in writing the D48 entry, I deleted or wrote-over the D47 entry. So the D47 entry is gone completely, and the D48 entry is published on the wrong day. Augh!  Sed non est terminum mundi.  It’s not the end of the world.  It’s just a technical foul-up.

Today I had the insight that establishing the breathwork pattern — inverse breathing requires pulling the abdomen in on the inhale, and letting it expand on the exhale, opposite natural breathing — is one of the keys of the work of tai chi.  It doesn’t actually work to start doing tai chi first and then try to set the breath pattern halfway through.  So I did that.

The result was one of the better tai chi experiences I can recall.  It’s difficult to put my finger on why I think it was one of my better tai chi experiences, of course.  I would say that I was slower than normal, but that’s not really what I mean.  No, I really mean something along the lines of “there was a qualitative shift in the nature of the chi working on this movement through the form.” The energy flowed differently, with a particular power, and deliberateness.  It felt like the difference between faking it and doing it.

A number of years ago, I went to the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, CO, to attend Fencing School, where I was certified as a Level 1 Foil coach. On my last day there, I received a stone (which I still have), when I went up to the Olympic Flame (it was lit for the Junior Paralympics, which were being held there at that time), and, with a printout of the oath to Zeus taken at the start of the Olympic Games in ancient Olympia, I took the oath of office of a coach and official.  I wish I’d written a better description of that experience at the time, but as I did so, a pumice stone popped in the cauldron of the Olympic flame, and tumbled onto the ground at my feet.  It was hot, but I was able to pick it up with a couple of sticks, and take it home with me.  Nine years on, it’s difficult to recall the ecstasy and joy I felt at that experience — of a magical moment arriving after five days of very difficult work.

But something about today feels very similar to that moment.  There was this sense, in the breathwork, of unlocking something new and wonderful, and being acknowledged in some way.  I’m looking forward to what comes next.

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