Thursday, January 13, 2011

Playful Practice ... Practice Being Playful

Today's new T'ai Chi Chih session reminded me of the need for ongoing group practices. Several students mentioned that they hadn't practiced much on their own since our previous class finished in early November 2010. Yes, group practice is inspiring, motivating, and in many ways essential. Dare I say that practice begets practice? Feeling good reinforces doing more to feel good.

One student asked me after practice why I always smile when we perform the Healing Sounds. I responded: I've always been introverted and rather shy. The Healing Sounds require me to be out there in a way that is a stretch for me. To make these unusual sounds in front of others is not something I would normally choose to do but for the fact that the TCC form includes this series of sounds and movements. All the same, the sounds allow me to release pent up energy that still rests, stagnant, in my body. It's playful and fun. Plus--and perhaps most important--it feels good!

During our discussion one class member said she disliked the fact that we call our T'ai Chi Chih practice a practice. For her it is playful, all-absorbing, transformative, fun, and relaxing. Practice seems to indicate something that is hard work. (I remembered that when I studied T'ai Chi Ch'uan, my teacher called us T'ai Chi players and she often talked about playing with the form.)

Another class member said, for her, practice means that we can always learn more and continue to grow. Perhaps, too, it includes an element of discipline.

For me, practice isn't about merely moving through a specific form. It's about disciplining myself to come back to that form over and over again, day after day, whether I feel like it or not. It requires me to prioritize my practice above other sometimes more appealing options in my day. And it invites me to bring the practice to a deeper level in my life that includes daily self-growth and spiritual transformation.

What does practice mean to you?

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