White-grey sky ... ground ... horizon. Naked trees and undergrowth swathed in deep snow allow me to easily detect movements in the distance ... a leaf trembling in the breeze, a squirrel dashing through the snow, a bird alighting on a tree branch, then flying higher and landing, steady.
Little Chiripa bats at my arms and hands as they rise, fall, and flap during Rocking Motion and Bird Flaps its Wings. She's in a chair to my side and it's a bit intimidating. If she were closer, would she be scratching my hands with her tiny, pinprick claws or delightedly chewing a finger? I bring my attention back down into the bottoms of my feet to stabilize and root myself. And, eventually she circles into a tiny ball and settles into a deep sleep.
Chiripa's actions remind me that, as beginning students, we tend to focus tremendous attention on how our hands look moving through the air. Do they rise high enough? Do they flap out far enough? Are the fingers, wrists, and arms relaxed? Do the shapes our hands make in the air coordinate with the shifting of our weight, forward and back?
I continually remind my students to focus attention, instead, on the bottoms of their feet or on their weight shift. Since humans are visually-oriented we tend to notice what moves in front of our eyes ... what's obvious. Waving arms, flapping hands, and circling palms fit that description.
When we keep our attention in our lower bodies, though, we begin to discover that--just like a tree--our root is what supports and balances us. It also feeds, nourishes, and inspires us in our movements. (And, ultimately, in the ways in which we blossom and leaf into the beauty of who we are.)
If we allow ourselves to fully relax and let the Chi flow through us like sap rising up the trunk of a tree, we'll no longer be concerned about our branches and leaves. We will trust that they'll move as they need to, supported by the air around them, and stirred into motion by the movement of the weight flowing softly forward and back....