Two qi gong forms, four tai chi forms. I’m currently staying at my mother’s place, helping her get ready for eye surgery. It’s not a dreadful procedure as I understand it — many people get this done as they age — but she’s still grateful for the extra hands and help. Her apartment has a nice big space in the middle for yoga or tai chi, and that’s where I did it this morning. Where my apartment faces mostly east, hers faces west. So my first task was to orient myself to the directional changes.
As I did qi gong and tai chi this morning, I found myself frequently facing a curved chair with a highly polished surface. Not a mirror, just reflective enough to catch a glimpse or shadow of myself in it. I wound up using this shadow or seeming of myself to gauge my timing, and help me slow down more during the qigong movements. During the tai chi, I had the same experience, of working through the four forms and catching sight of myself in the chair back, and thinking, oh, too fast, slow down… And then doing so.
At got me thinking about water, and about how water is one of tai chi’s sources of inspiration and meaning. The goal is to move fluidly and easily, dancing from one posture to the next, with exactly the right speed and economy of motion as determined by gravity, the slope of the ground, and other physical conditions. Water doesn’t worry about obstacles. It touches them and moves around them. It goes on its way, accepts the limitations of the container or the boundary, and moves past. But water is also continuous. It keeps flowing, ripple after ripple, wave after wave. The Latin word for wave is Undinus, hence the name for the mysterious elemental spirits of Water, Undines, in western occult literature, and the lovely word, undulations, the fluid up-and-down of water which does no harm, but simply says, “I am as I am.” In Spain, many years ago, my walking tour guide said, “our hike today will take us over a series of undulations,” as if to say, “they’re not really hills, more like gentle ups and downs,” but walking those undulations all through the day was exhausting and tumbledown for me. If the surf is heavy, you stay out of the water.
The tai chi was pretty slow and good. About 58-60 minutes. I’m going to reach the goal of doing tai chi for an hour, by the end of the year I think.