Monday Morning Tai Chi Training Tip # 292
Tai Chi is Like Champagne
I am writing this after a wonderful morning of practice. We feel so fortunate to live in Port Townsend, a truly benign weather place. We have been meeting in the park, four times a week, and have been since the beginning of the coronavirus outbreak, (about 8 months), and we have never missed a day. Remarkable.
During the class discussions this morning, we often broke into intense laughter, spurred on by various participants. The image of champagne came into my mind. I will share the thoughts that followed.
If you look at a bottle of champagne, it looks like a bottle for any liquid. Nothing special on the outside. When you look at someone practicing Tai Chi, it looks lovely, but nothing special. Just someone moving around, waving their arms.
But inside the bottle, there is a wonderful surprise waiting – delicious essence of spirits. And if you have good instruction, your Tai Chi also has spirits (your personal ones) waiting to be released.
If you have ever opened a bottle of champagne, you know to open it very slowly, carefully to extract the cork. Ideally a little pop, as the spirits start to become active, as they needed oxygen to stimulate the activity, and CO2 to be released, causing bubbles.
Yang Tai Chi starts very slowly, and carefully also. No rushing around. The chi is activated by oxygen, and the CO2 gathered in the body, and if we pay attention, we can feel the energy being released, like bubbles, so that is why we pay so much attention to our breath.
We have a saying at our school -”Not too little, or too much”. With champagne, too little does not necessarily mean too little to go around the group of friends, it means not being able to extract the cork, easily and smoothly. And too much (hard to imagine) means shaking the bottle before opening. It will explode and the cork will fly with threat to all nearby.
In Tai Chi too little or too much generally refers to Push Hands practice. It is easy to fall into both these extremes. Too little means not able to do the work that needs doing, and too much makes one clumsy.
Champagne is usually consumed at special, happy occasions – birthdays, weddings, holidays, etc. It is festive. Tai Chi group practice in a beautiful park in the middle of Fall, can bring intense feelings of joy, happiness, opening the heart to the spirit within. Today we laughed. Often people take Tai Chi practice too seriously and clamp down on the fun one can experience when exploring one’s inner repository of laughs and giggles with fellow travelers on the path. Pull your cork and let the champagne flow.