Monday Morning Tai Chi Training Tip # 278
When I returned to San Francisco from Afghanistan in 1971, I got a job in one of the first natural food stores in the US – Stanyan Street Natural Foods. My job was to make fresh juice and have it ready before the store opened at 10 AM. I have always been an early riser, and for this job I would get up around 4 AM to make the carrot, orange, lemon, apple, veggie combination, and whatever else was in season.
At this time I was 28 years old and the only transportation I owned was a bicycle. And let me tell you, San Francisco is not a bicycle city for the faint of heart. After work, I would cycle over to Golden Gate Park, and once I discovered my favorite place in the Arboretum, practice for a while.
There was a large field in Golden Gate Park called “The Polo Field” as it was used for polo matches, as well as many other sports. When I was in high school, we used to train and practice for football games using this field. My high school didn’t contain even one blade of grass.
There was a stable by the side of the field for horses. I like animals, and my family never owned pets. I would ride over and check the horses out. There was a beautiful pure white horse named Raindrop who I befriended. She was friendly and her stable door looked out to the road I would use to petal up to visit her. She would spy me and come to the door and wait for me to come up and shower her with love.
It didn’t take long for me to come up with a plan. When making the morning juice, I would save a big, juicy carrot and present it to her after I rode up. After the first time, she would get more worked up when she saw me, remembering the juicy treat.
Then my plan evolved. I would hide the carrot on my person, and Raindrop would sniff it out and I would then present it to her as a reward. She loved the game as I did. She was very fond of apples when the season hit. I can’t at this moment remember her other favorites, but there were quit a few. This went on for quite a few months, and I can’t now remember what put a stop to this adventure, but my heart swells when I think of dear Raindrop.
So the Tai Chi point is to discover special places for practice, and your life can become more enriched and fun. No wonder I like the Tai Chi move “High Pat on Horse” so much!
At the same time, I lived in a flat on Stanyan St. There was a cat who belonged to the upstairs neighbor, who happened to be a new student of Master Choy. The cat’s name was Sam (short for Samantha). Sam’s owner was gone most of the day at work, and I was home a lot, so Sam would come downstairs and hang out with me. She especially liked to sit on my lap while I was reading or writing.
One day I got a good idea. I laid on the floor and had Sam lie on my stomach, which she was more than happy to do. I would then practice my breathing exercises. It really was effective. Having that weight on my belly gave me a solid awareness of how my breath moved my belly, and having Sam there made me breathe slowly and smoothly. And best of all, Sam loved it and would stay as long as I wanted her to. I showed Sam’s owner what I was doing, and she got right into it. Cat Qigong.


Note: More about The Breathing Box next week.