Thursday, January 26, 2012

Traveling the Path

This morning's T'ai Chi Chih class was like a reunion; six of our seven class members (myself included) were in attendance. Many residents travel away from the Northland during the winter. Like birds migrating south, People of the Woods enjoy leaving our cold, snowy environment for a brief (or not so brief) respite.

One student just returned from a trip to Norway, Rome, and Naples. Another student is currently residing in Florida for six weeks; yet another leaves for Orlando, FL in February and then heads to Hong Kong with his new wife in early April. Two other students plan to visit their son and his family in Austin, TX in early February. There's only one student in the entire lot who hasn't mentioned a trip. And me? I've had a few winter escapes in the past but this year I'm rooted in place while others travel out of the area.

After our relaxing though not necessarily synchronized practice this morning, we discussed Buddha's Brain. We've made it to Chapter 12, "Blissful Concentration," and, since much of our topic now relates directly to our T'ai Chi Chih practices, we're intent on discussing each minute detail that the authors address. This morning's topic: 'Keeping attention on its object.'

Buddha's Brain's authors write: Imagine a little guardian who watches how well you are watching the breath and gives your attention a boost if it starts to flag. This guardian 'lives' mainly in the anterior cingulate cortex (ACC), which compares actual performance with a goal.... (p. 194)

We spent our entire discussion on this one short passage from the book (and, I might add, had plenty to say about it). This in-depth discussion set me to wondering: What is your goal in your T'ai Chi Chih practice? Why do you do a practice? What do you hope to gain from it? Where and what do you focus on in the midst of your movements?

During our lifetimes we're all traveling a path of exploration, growth, and adventure. T'ai Chi Chih reminds us that no matter where we roam, the perfect place for us to be is right here in the present moment. Here. Now. When we're rooted in the present, we're nested in a space that's restful, rejuvenative, and ultimately perfect. Florida. Norway. Texas. Hong Kong. Or, even, snowy Wisconsin. We're home....

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