Saturday, March 19, 2011

Focus: Inside

Day Two of T'ai Chi Chih seated practice. I moved--umm, sat--in the peaceful sunniness of the porch.

Yes. It's hard for me to remain seated while I go through the form. I prefer to stand up and move. And still, I remained seated.

Perhaps I'm going through a whole new phase of my training. I am certainly aware of other TCC teachers who, due to knee problems or the like, sat through their practices for weeks and sometimes months. And, of course, many elders in nursing and retirement homes, do TCC practice from a chair. Why does it bother me?

I'm reminded of entry #49 from The Second Book of the Tao by Stephen Mitchell. I quote it in its entirety (p. 98):
Chi Hsing-tzu was training a gamecock for the king. After ten days, the king asked if the bird was ready for combat. "No, Your Majesty," said Chi. "He's arrogant, always ready to pick a fight. He's still relying on his own strength."
     Another ten days passed, and the king asked again. Chi said, "No, Sire, not yet. He still becomes excited when a rival bird appears."
     Ten more days. The king asked again. "Not yet," Chi said. "He still gets an angry glint in his eye."
     Another ten days, another question. Chi said, "Now, Sire, he's almost ready. When a rival crows, he doesn't react. He stands motionless like a block of wood. His focus is inside. Other birds will take one look at him and run."
Obviously, I'm not training for a cock fight. But this lesson speaks volumes. Seated or standing I can feel the energy (Chi). Seated, as well as standing, I can lead from my center. The major difference between these two modes of practice lies in my mind. I can do the seated moves fairly easily. But I chafe at the realization that I'm limited in my physical abilities.

I enjoy the relaxed flow that I experience while standing. I like how I look. I enjoy how it feels. But in order for me to get the most out of these seated practices I need to let go of my desires and expectations. I must not react to the circumstances that placed me in this chair. I need to "focus inside" where the battle is being waged, quiet the Monkey Mind, and be at peace with what Is.

This, I gather, is the time to begin with this training. Seated or standing. Now.

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