Namaste (our dog) and Chiripa (our kitten) accompanied Frances and me to the mailbox this afternoon then raced each other up the quarter-mile drive in fits and starts. All of us thoroughly enjoyed the warmth and light. Yes, temperatures will continue to dip and snow will fall, but the brighter, longer light breathes additional energy into each day and whispers tender promises through the darkness of each night.
My drive to Cornucopia for our morning t'ai chi chih class was washed with light. Today we took time to review and discuss Vanjie Bratt's (a certified TCC teacher from Minnesota) TCC stick figures and then practiced shifting our weight and leading with t'an t'ien. Because we are a diverse group of long-time practitioners, t'ai chi ch'uan players, and newcomers, we engaged in spirited discussion and debate about how we perform various movements which is ... wonderful.
It's fun to watch students as they feel the movements in their bodies, make slight adjustments, and then pay close attention to how each variation feels. That's part of the never-ending journey of t'ai chi chih: testing, trying, changing, feeling, changing again, feeling more.... As practicing t'ai chi chih players we're continually aiming for greater comfort, deeper relaxation, softer softness, and continuous flow.
Several days ago, after reading an article in an old issue of The Vital Force, I tried moving differently, allowing my hips to relax and open more completely. Now, of course, I can't remember the article I read or the movement I tried. But I do remember that my body felt better and now I have a feeling sense of what I want to aim for when I move my body from side-to-side. That feeling sense is all I need to inspire me toward a greater depth in my TCC practice.
As Sandy McAlister (one of our teacher-trainers) writes in The Vital Force (May 2008):
... When we nurture and work at our practice by becoming softer, flowing effortlessly, grounding, and generally applying the principles mindfully (with feeling-awareness [my emphasis] rather than with a calculating mind), we are strengthening our relationship with our TCC practice.