Sunday, October 21, 2012

A Sacred Silence

And so it goes.... My blog silence lasted for nine days and then I read a book, shared a passage from it with my TCC continuing students, and realized that my blog was the ideal storage container for a few excerpts from said book.

A quick update: I've practiced T'ai Chi Chih daily since ceasing my daily blog journal and have felt as free as a kite. Now I do my TCC moving meditation and then continue on with my life post-practice minus any obligation to write about that practice. (As was likely obvious to my readers, some days I just didn't have anything significant to say.) Now, since I stopped writing my daily TCC blog, I have space in my life to write about other experiences. Beautiful!

Then I read Terry Tempest Williams' book, When Women Were Birds. Fascinating. Williams was inspired to write this book following the death of her mother who gave Williams three shelves of her personal journals to be read after her death. There was only one minor problem . . . every single journal was blank. No words. No pictures. No scraps of memory, history, feelings, thoughts, or experience. That sent Williams on a journey of discovery: What was her mother trying to say? What was her silence meant to reveal?

In one segment of her book Williams writes specifically about silence and begins with a quote by psychologist C.G. Jung: "Fear seeks noisy company and pandemonium to scare away the demons." This, I believe, is one of the reasons why the people who join--and stick with--T'ai Chi Chih Joy Thru Movement classes are an unusual bunch of adult learners. They are willing to enter a space of silence in the company of others.

Williams writes (p. 57):
I am afraid of silence. Silence creates a pathway to peace through pain, the pain of a distracted and frantic mind before it becomes still.... I fear silence because it leads me to myself, a self I may not wish to confront. It asks that I listen. And in listening, I am taken to an unknown place. Silence leaves me alone in a place of feeling. It is not necessarily a place of comfort.
Williams goes on to describe the work of two artists: composer John Cage and artist Robert Rauschenberg. Cage's piece 4'33", initially performed in 1952, involved a pianist walking onto the stage, closing the lid over the piano keys, and clicking a stopwatch he held in his hand. He stood twice to open and close the piano lid between movements and then stood to receive his applause.

As you might imagine, audience members were perplexed and annoyed by Cage's theatrical, creative work and when the third movement began many either talked or walked out of the performance. Probably few noticed what sounds emerged in the midst of Cage's staged silence.

Williams explains (p. 58):
Silence introduced in a society that worships noise is like the moon exposing the night. Behind darkness is our fear. Within silence our voice dwells. What is required from both is that we be still. We focus. We listen. We see and we hear. The unexpected emerges....
I'm in awe of those people who choose to explore meditation. And I am blessed in each T'ai Chi Chih class session when my students willingly enter into the silence--and the potent energy it carries with it--as we notice our bodies and minds and allow them to soften and relax thus helping to deepen the silence within our practice circle. Thanks to all of you who have joined me in the sacred silence of TCC practice. It is a gift . . . and a blessing.

Friday, October 12, 2012

The Way

Well, friends, it's been a long time coming. . . .

While I engaged in my daily T'ai Chi Chih practice over the past week I allowed myself to simmer in the juices of contemplation. Is it time to end this blog? Or time to pause or alter my commitment to a regular daily entry in "Rooted in Earth, Suspended from Sky"? Or ???

I've felt a desire to get off the computer bandwagon for some time now. Recent sporadic blog entries were an indication that I found it difficult to place my fingertips on computer keys and to find words, ideas, and insights that were compelling to me and my readers. In truth, I was adrift on a sea of shifting tides.

There are many reasons for my decision to stop writing a daily blog not the least of which is the death of my computer. It's hard to juggle my computer needs with Frances's since we now both share her laptop.

Plus, as Frances's computer use has increased my own computer use has declined. I'm not enamored with the state of the world these days and feel no desire to read news online. I've virtually given up on Facebook (it's too time consuming for what I get out of it), and any meaningful e-mail communications--just like my airmail communications--have dwindled to the point where I've lost interest in opening or reading the vast majority of virtual or print mail that I receive.

But here's the upside. I initiated this blog as a way to ensure that I did a daily T'ai Chi Chih practice and now, almost three years later, I can say with all honesty that my strategy worked. I've missed one, perhaps two days of TCC practice in the 1,054 days since I began this undertaking. And now it's time to see whether I can continue a daily TCC practice on my own without a virtual audience to motivate and inspire me.

Clearly, it's time for a change. Perhaps that change will mean that I focus my efforts on a once-weekly or once-monthly blog or perhaps I'll realize that I no longer need to write a T'ai Chi Chih blog at all.

My thanks to those of you who have been loyal readers of "Rooted ... and Suspended ..." For the moment I'm content to see where the Chi carries me and I don't have a clue where my path will lead. I'll simply live in the Now and be open to life's possibilities for, as we know, that is The Way.

Friday, October 5, 2012

A TCC Calm Start to the Day

My early morning TCC practice definitely helped get me through the Apple Fest book sale at Bayfield Carnegie Library today. Of course, I worked upstairs in the quieter, less peopled area while my co-workers handled the hordes of bargain shoppers downstairs.

Nevertheless, I felt calm, relaxed, and peaceful was I made my way through the mass of people lined up inside the door when I arrived. And there was plenty of regular library work to keep me going on this long, cold, overcast, and rainy day.

My plan tomorrow? Do another early morning TCC practice before I set out a half-hour earlier than today. There will be more visitors present on Saturday and Sunday so I'll get a chance to see whether TCC makes a difference once again....

Thursday, October 4, 2012

TCC for Health Maintenance and Visitor Burnout

Tuesday, October 2, 2012:

Since I'm still fighting a sore throat today I invested myself in a pre-bed combination T'ai Chi Chih and qigong practice to stimulate more chi circulation. We'll see what tomorrow brings....

Wednesday, October 3, 2012:

I awoke today with lots of energy. The day was spent processing more tomatoes (an entire day producing a quintuple batch of tomato soup), scheduling my winter/spring TCC classes, and prepping for tonight's two TCC classes.

My personal TCC practice consisted of two back-to-back TCC class sessions for a total of about two hours of practice. My throat was sore after teaching for two and a half hours, but I hoped that the additional time spent circulating chi would stand me in good stead.

I arrived home after class--and grocery shopping--feeling energetic and downright good.

Thursday, October 4, 2012:

I woke with sniffles and a lower register voice but, by day's end, felt better. My evening TCC practice was done in front of a dark window with the sound of a brisk wind blowing outside.

There's snow falling on the Iron Range in Minnesota and along the Red River Valley (up to 12 inches predicted). Our local forecast calls for much cooler temps (the high winds are definitely blowing them in) with a chance of snow and/or rain tomorrow morning.

Bayfield's annual Apple Fest starts in the AM so those who plan to attend will have to bundle up and hope for the best. I'm scheduled to work at the library all day and will spend my time directing visitors to bathrooms (which are always in high demand) and the book sale in the downstairs level.

I'll plan to fit in an early morning TCC practice to help me make it through a long, slow day since there won't be much regular library business due to the hordes of people passing through downtown and massing in he downstairs basement to sort through the extensive collection of books, DVDs, and music CDs for sale at the astounding price of 3 for $1.

Yep, a morning TCC practice will definitely help me make it through the multitude of challenges that arise--not the least of which is finding a parking spot--due to the influx of thousands of visitors who visit our small town of 438 residents during the first weekend in October....

Monday, October 1, 2012

Carrying On

Sunday, September 30, 2012:

Frances convinced me to take a fall leaf viewing trip this afternoon. We drove up to Cornucopia, walked on the beach and visited their community library and grocery/hardware store. Next we drove slowly down the center of the peninsula absorbing all the reds, yellows, golds, and tangerines that we could contain. What a beautiful sight!

We spontaneously stopped at the Jerry Jolly Trail for a hike with Namaste, then headed home. It was a pleasant, low-key day and I basked in the opportunity to escape the house and my sick bed.

Back home again I did a short TCC practice and quickly returned to bed. I'm still recovering and I want to be as healthy as possible for work tomorrow afternoon.

Monday, October 1, 2012:

My throat is still sore, but my energy is higher (and happier). This morning I did a full TCC practice outdoors in one soft spot of sunlight. It was one-derful!

Even though I could hear a light breeze circulating through the trees in the forest my tiny practice spot felt quiet and comfortable. During practice I looked behind me and saw all of my white animal companions spread out in a haphazard pattern. Chiripa was hunting, Lucy was grazing, and Namaste was lying on the ground, an alpha dog surveying his terrain.

I'm still moving slowly around the house and my chores but I am moving. And, I believe, TCC practice has helped me to carry on.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Silence is Golden

Tuesday, September 24 thru Saturday, September 29, 2012:

I was busy at work early this week and, now sick, I'm occupied with my recovery. Despite the busyness I got in my daily T'ai Chi Chih practices, at least in part.

Tuesday morning my boss called and asked me to cover her shift at work (in addition to my own) since she was severely ill. A full eight and a half hour day working by myself with no breaks was exhausting. I went straight to bed when I arrived home with a short ten minute TCC practice to send me into dreamland.

Again, Wednesday I filled in at the library before heading off to teach two back-to-back T'ai Chi Chih classes in the evening. After a long, super busy day at the library followed by over two hours of TCC practice and teaching, I was tired.

Thursday, Friday, and Saturday (I'm sorry to say) were recovery days. I'm trying to elude a sore throat and cold without much success. Thursday and Friday I slept and slept and slept, but still took time for a daily dose of T'ai Chi Chih.

Today I added a cleansing qigong session to my TCC practice in the hope that the activated Chi energy will aid in my recovery. The weather this week is absolutely lovely and perfect for spending time outside enjoying the colorful leaves. Even though I've spent much of my time in bed, the woods is a fall paradise and both the leaves and the silence are golden.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Dashing ... Then Resting

Tonight's T'ai Chi Chih practice was free form. I've been dashing from place to place over the past few days and it felt good to settle into practice when I arrived home from work.

Suddenly it didn't matter whether I did my practice in any particular order so I launched into a "come what may" practice where I allowed whatever movement presented itself to be next. The modified form looked just fine in my darkened bedroom windows and, soon, practice was over and done. Until tomorrow....