Student's Viewpoint

Gregor Ptok, Erskineville

I started learning Yuan-Chi Tai Chi Chuan under Master Ric Lum in November 2005. It has weaved its way into all aspects of my life, providing immediate benefits in my day-to-day life and health, whilst also allowing me to catch glimpses of the eternal, ever-changing, un-changing energy of life. Yuan-Chi Tai Chi Chuan to me is a craft so rich and intricate it will provide years of learning and development. I enjoy sharing it with others. Below are some of the experiences I have had along the Way.  
- Fri, 30 Mar 2012 10:18:40 +1100

 Updates:

Subject: Saturday dance
Date: Sun, 12 Feb 2012 21:51:37 +1100

Saturday, 11 feb 2012
The dance: it was quite amazing - my focus was very much on those at Fire level, and it felt that we moved in absolute unison. Ray left wing, Magda point, me between Ray and Magda, and Danya opposite me on the right side. Gliding through the moves with the others filled me with such joy. The words that came to mind were "band of brothers" (and a sister).
"Cloud hands" in S.2 stirred up the waters a bit, but we soon found our groove again. Really, it was only minor turbulence. The unison was in fact so strong, that I found myself doing version 2 of "Brush knee" (which I normally don't do).
My focus was very much on those in Fire level. When focussing on the others (and I tried it twice), I seemed to get tired and yawned (hence stopped that experiment).

In S.3, after the first set of "Cloud hands" and "Downward dominance", my focus was more on just my experience, detached from the band of brothers and sisters. My movements again became more purposeful, pronounced and lower, they also got a lot more bounce, even in "Cloud hands". In my excitable German way, I would describe the experience as truly exciting and exhilarating. It was also quite exhausting; in a couple of leans I was worried my leg might give way (it was shaking from the strain).

Also, earlier in the form, my focus went soft, and there appeared to be no boundary to my hands. They seemed to move through the air like through water, sweeping and pulling contrails. I couldn't "see" them, but that was the image that came to mind.

What a privilege - thank you to the band of brothers and sisters and all others who were there, who "carried" the form and thus my focus wasn't too caught up in making sure I didn't miss a turn ....
Thank you also to Master Ric who explored and charted the space we move in.

Subject: Notes from today
Date: Thu, 9 Feb 2012 15:01:31 +1100
My journey in Yuan-Chi Tai Chi Chuan

I had pulled my right shoulder in the morning when changing Kian(my infant son). Sifu asked me to sit on the grass and started to touch my shoulder... pretty much as soon as he touched my shoulder, I felt warmth and could hardly focus on the pain; it was gone. A couple of hours later, a little discomfort remains, but other than that ... Fine.

New step: Mongolian Stance. Before showing me the step, we spent time "limbering up". Sifu guided my body through a bend over forwards. It felt like each bone in my spine was moved individually. The whole movement felt straighter than I could have done it. I had my eyes closed throughout and felt a force enveloping me.
The actual practice of the step initially appeared comparatively easy, but I feel that my "best" attempt was the {1st, as} with every other attempt, my movement became less precise. My legs were getting tired.
We went on to do some Push Hands, and after just a few rounds, I became exhausted. We were going quite slow and the energy was getting too much.

Afterwards, conversation was almost too much for me. I caught a train to Redfern and walked home from there. After having some toast, I just sat, looking at the clouds.

Subject: Some reflections
Date: Sun, 22 Jan 2012 21:19:47 +1100

Thursday – beginning the lesson, “raising the Chi” with the new student, I felt the Chi on my arms very strongly. After that, when we did S3 with Parvati, I didn’t feel anything strongly. However, there seemed to be a field of connection encompassing the three of us. 

Saturday – being one in from right wing had its challenges and was initially very unsettling, especially as there were different tempi around me. Towards the end, I again perceived the “bubble”. Regarding my lesson, I observed the interplay of the two elbows. Not that I came to any conclusions, but it was an additional question to the one I stumbled onto on Thursday (-?). Towards the end of section three, at the beginning of the last “Single whip” there was a noticeable change in the energy for me. I was (almost violently) pulled down and my movements became much more pronounced, present and what I would call black & white. It feels like I had been granted a greater presence and connection and felt like I was absolutely there. Bang! Aware, moved, and much more at peace. It reminded me of my lesson on Thursday a few weeks before Christmas when “S3 wanted to be performed”. I was gripped and moved by the Chi.

Afterwards, the group felt very lighthearted. Ray and I had been doing Tai-Chi Sauna (ie. wearing wet weather gear and getting very hot & sweaty) and we all had a good laugh about it. Amazingly (as usual), the whole form didn’t appear to raise your temperature one bit.

Subject: Skateboard
Date: Sat, 17 Dec 2011 23:00:08 +1100
What a day! During the Form today, in “Jade Maiden threads loom” I was very aware of my legs. Magda’s comments of the skateboard on the halfpipe comes to mind. There was a clarity of movement, beginning and end, up and down. Wonderful!

Subject: Today's class
Date: Thu, 17 Nov 2011 22:48:42 +1100

- Doing Push Hands, the lower part of my brain felt comfortably numb whilst (JSM) my arms moved very easily.

Subject: Observations
Date: Fri, 28 Oct 2011 19:58:20 +1100

Reflections on Thursday's lesson:
I can't remember having worked that hard at Tai Chi, I was sweating quite a lot. A proper work-out and at least twice I was just about ready to stop because my legs were so exhausted. But then I was able to continue and though tiring, my legs also felt very loose. But  they also felt very strong, at times like they were gripping the earth.
A very paradoxical experience. Working my way through section 3, I lost my way several times. Once I found myself in Cheng-Man-Ching form, then lost count of the repulse monkeys and cloud hands, and a couple of times I had to stop and re-start. It was quite funny and I had a bit of a giggle a couple of times.
But, at the time there seemed to be no room for anything else. S.3 wanted to be performed. And at times I felt "yes, I got it, I got my lesson!". I was wondering whether I would be able to maintain that presence and was surprised that I did pretty much until the end of S3. Although you were there, no instruction was necessary. Doing the form, I was on autopilot and at times found myself moving in ways I did not recognise or remember. It was a blast!

Subject: "WALK WITH ME"
Date: Mon, 8 Aug 2011 21:11:32 +1000

Breakfast: Shri Annapurna mantra and keeping attention on Sahastrara makes food intake much calmer and satisfying. Boy, do I usually gobble! "Throw away your crutches" - we have them in so many areas and ways.

Walking, following you: The length of my pace changed, became shorter but more efficient. Towards the end walking was more like a continuous shifting and rolling...
it sometimes felt like there were strings of energy (like roots) that gathered in whenever my foot  lifted... and other times it felt like I was walking on "autopilot".

Saturday, 2 October 2010

Following you – this Saturday just gone was again very big on the “being moved” aspect of Yuan-Chi Tai-Chi. Especially in the first part of the session, I felt like at times there was simply no other way to move than in sync with you. At one point my upper arms felt incredibly dense and heavy, but that dissipated later on. The focus of the energy seemed to be above the solar plexus. Again, there was much more intricate and interconnected movement than when I practise on my own. And a couple of times, joy came over me when I observed how I moved in sync with you.

Saturday, 25 September 2010

What makes Yuan-Chi Tai-Chi different from other styles of Tai Chi Chuan? Last Saturday I observed, towards the end of the form, how S. did a grading or some other display with the other group. His movements were very – how should I describe it – controlled, forceful? It seemed like he was pressing his body into various precise positions, like play-dough into a form. I can see the temptation, the feeling of power and control that would come with that. Whereas our Tai-Chi seems more like a meander through the forest. You can’t always make out the path, but keep moving along. Actually, a lot of the time it’s like you are being moved along. I guess I prefer the mystery over the power.

Sent: Sunday, September 19, 2010 11:06 PM
Subject: Following?

Following you yesterday in “Turn, chop fist“ and “Move, bar, punch” highlighted again what makes Yuan-Chi Tai-Chi unique. As Ray said, there were movements within movements, nuances within each other, which we, practising on our own, would simply not be able to emulate.  But more than that, at times and especially towards the end, I felt “bigger”, like my body did not end with my skin. It seemed like my boundaries were softer, expanded, rubbery, denser. My movements were more connected and flowing. When discussing our experience afterwards, the reason to follow you, rather than focusing on our particular lesson step, became apparent – only in this way are we open to experience the full lesson and be exposed to mastery way beyond our current state. I believe it is called “direct transference”.

Sent: Saturday, August 28, 2010 11:47 PM
Subject: Today's dance

This morning’s dance was quite different. The formation was: Danya – point, Magda – left wing, I was right wing, Ray was backward of point and Mick was bunny. The only way I can describe it is that my body felt more connected (e.g. arms with legs, etc) when moving. I also noticed my stance was lower. After not  being there last weekend due to school reunion, it was a very nice experience. There were intermittent moments of thoughtless awareness, too.

When mentioning these sensations whilst getting water afterwards, Magda reported similar feelings, especially the greater connectedness.

Sent: Sunday, May 30, 2010 9:29 PM
Subject: Bird & Tree

During the form yesterday I was on the right wing, leading “Wild Horse Part Mane”. I had the usual conversation going on in my head - “Am I too fast? Too slow? Etc.”. However, there was also a feeling of peace and flow. At one point, there was one particular bird that was walking on the ground and came within less than a metre of me. It did not seem hurried or worried, but went about its business. I was surprised by its trust. Then I realised that I felt very rooted in the earth. I doubt I would have been able to jump suddenly if I had tried. However, there was no need or desire to do so, just contentment. Very briefly, I felt how the bird might have perceived me – like a tree, part of the landscape. A very memorable encounter!

Sent: Saturday, March 27, 2010 9:33 PM
Subject: My lesson

Focussing on  "U-Knee" is like discovering a whole new story. The story of the weighted point is familiar, but the U-point opens the gate to the effortless flow. I found myself switching / jumping between the two stories. The image of the infinity symbol came to mind, with one story being one loop and the point of switching the other loop. I thought about my "discovery" at various points throughout the day. The "U" is the equal, but often neglected / forgotten (in everyday life) rarely known "other half" of  existence. It is the meditation / ethereal aspects and seems to be the  first time, in learning Tai-Chi, that a completely different area is accessed. I also found more places in the form when I was being carried and moved than I used to. Still only sporadically, but nonetheless more than before.

I am just amazed at the "parallel universe" that is there in the form, hidden in plain sight. Though you see, you are blind - comes to mind. Looking at my day-to-day life through this newfound lens is somewhat disturbing. Work, Routine, Reading, TV, Computer work is all on the Yang / "hard work and straining" side of the equation. There appears to be very little on the other side ....

 

Sent: Sunday, July 12, 2009 8:04 PM
Subject: Reporting Q.2?

.. I just remember footage of an elephant charging, and he seemed to move at a constant, fast pace. The fascinating observation was that it could almost be described as dance .... the bulk / body of the elephant seemed almost level, whilst the legs were "dancing" underneath the body, propelling the elephant at quite tremendous speed.

 

Sent: Tuesday, July 07, 2009 8:07 PM

Subject: PERCEPTIONS & REFLECTIONS

“constant rate” of movement, keeping the ball rolling – that is what my perception of the lesson is. No more stops and starts, acceleration or deceleration, but simply a constant movement, much like walking to a steady beat. Whilst it may appear to require more concentration, I think it actually uses less effort than the stops and starts.

An interesting footnote: after the lesson I had the best “run” of the traffic lights along Glebe Point Road I have ever had. Green all the way to Uni of Sydney. When I began to get excited about it and drawing parallels to the lesson, the resistance grew and a couple of times I had to wait for quite some time.

 

Sent: Sunday, June 28, 2009 6:18 PM
Subject:
It's OK..

-          Perfectionist ambitions and inflexibility – it was good being able to lead someone who picks up things easily, which showed where I was being inflexible in my approach. And really, all first-timers need is to get to that point where they have done a particular style by themselves once or twice. There’s usually plenty more opportunity for refinement and revision, hence don’t have to get it 100% right the first time.

-          "Once Around The World" felt like new. I was moving lower than I had in the past and it felt more like riding a wave. In hindsight, trying to describe it, “Downward Dominance” comes to mind.

 

Sent: Sunday, June 14, 2009 8:38 PM
Subject:
Lessons

Words truly are no good when teaching Tai-Chi, at least in so far as beginners are concerned. They direct attention and exaggerate whatever was mentioned in importance. As such they will be used by the student to cling on to, thus giving the words far more weight than they were meant to.
Twice I gave in to the temptation to say something – the first time I did, it made things worse, whilst the second time, something completely different to what I wanted to communicate was received instead.

The first time was at the turn from “All-Pervading Ultimate Manifests” to “Left grasp bird’s tail” in S1. Miranda and I noticed that "E" was not pivoting on her heel. Miranda asked me whether we should say something – initially I didn’t, but then couldn’t resist.
I pointed out to "E" that she should turn on her heel. And voila, what do we get? She turns beautifully on her heel but in doing so, her weight distribution is now all wrong!

The second time was in “Left grasp bird’s tail”, where I tried to correct her left hand. She took it to mean that I was talking about which way to hold her right hand!

 

Sent: Friday, May 29, 2009 12:55 PM
Subject:
Health

Tai-Chi has led to greater balance and grounded-ness. I feel a lot more stable standing on one leg, for example, when putting on shoes or socks, than I did when I started Tai-Chi, or even one year ago. I also feel stronger in both legs. I also believe it is assisting in preventing re-occurrence of DVT (deep vein thrombosis), which I had in 2007.

 

Sent: Wednesday, October 01, 2008 8:24 AM
Subject:
Contentment

Last week, a feeling of deep peace and contentment came over me; walking to work and suddenly, at Wynyard park, I just stopped and stood. I have seen so much, am so tired of external things and my attention flitting from one thing and person to the next. Yearning for a slower pace, greater groundedness.

Another layer peeled away, and greater joy and delight in the relationships I have. Physically, I feel like I have more movement in my knee towards the back, when straightening my legs. It feels more even, too - like my knees now are able to straighten properly, the way they are meant to. Also, I recently did some kicks and found myself reaching higher whilst maintaining my balance more than I remember doing before. Other physical changes are being able to flatten my feet more when spreading my toes and, something I am quite excited about: being able to walk from home to the station, maintaining soft focus in my vision pretty much all of the way!

 

Sent: Saturday, May 03, 2008 2:30 PM
Subject:
Today was different

Getting there before everyone else was good, and I was actually singing a song I hadn’t remembered for ages. It was a blessing from my days in church called “Now unto him”. Leading Mick I thought worked well. The main observation on this part was: it seems that when you show styles, they appear to take longer than when I actually do them. They seem a lot more intricate, too. I noticed this before as well, today was just very pronounced. I also noticed how when doing the turn, I feel quite twisted and tense.

What was different today was that I think today was the first day leading on left wing when my mind didn’t stray too far throughout the form. I felt very much connected even during the latter part of S.2 and S.3, which is when I normally “drift off”. It was very beautiful.

Thank you.

Funny, the mix-up with restaurants, too. Anyhow, after lunch I actually had a nap and my legs felt very heavy and dense when I woke up. It was not unpleasant at all. I actually lay awake for some time, until I was ready to get up and just took it slowly.

 

I have been learning Tai Chi Chuan with Ric since November 2005. What words can describe my journey and learning so far? They seem paradoxical, but at times it is exactly so:
Effortless and trying too hard. Progress and consolidation – perceived and yet not seen. Believing I understand and finding I don’t. Knowing and forgetting. Feeling at times utterly foolish and yet, at other times, absolutely right. In learning: puzzled, perplexed, frustrated, delighted, amazed, and grateful.
Through Tai Chi Chuan I am faced with myself and my place in life. I find that I am now leading a more balanced life than when I started, externally and internally. I no longer react if unable to remember what I just saw or learnt (which occurs quite frequently). When first starting out, I used to berate myself for “not getting it” and got quite frustrated. Now I am more accepting, and know and trust that in good time I will “get it”. How can that be? It comes back to the most fundamental lesson I have learnt so far:
“Come to Class.” Or, as Woody Allen once said: “80% of success is showing up”.
Friday, April 11, 2008 6:35 PM

 

15th March 2008
As we were setting up for the form, for a very short time, I was seeing everything around me, wasn‘t focussed on one particular thing. During the form my hands were very relaxed, it was exciting to see that flexibility. When you "see" your hand connected to your leg, it’s quite intriguing.

 

Sent: Sunday, February 17, 2008 7:33 PM
Subject:
Reflections on yesterday's lesson

I would describe yesterday’s lesson as intense for me.
I have settled back into class very quickly after my longish absence in Melbourne. In fact my movements feel more connected now than they did previously.
In particular yesterday I found that time seemed to stretch and there was an enjoyment about going with the form.

Early in the form I realised that my way of thinking and perceiving has developed during my life so far in a particular way, quite heavily focussed on analysing circumstances and situations. I realised that this framework will not really help me move on in Tai Chi. I believe that as Chi is something which previously has been outside of my range of perception, I need to be open to experiences, feelings and ways of being which are beyond what I am used to. This will broaden my mind. I guess I am beginning to make room for this.

During S2, I felt myself physically moved more than ever. This happened when I was not going with my preconceived ideas of what the form is like. When these preconceptions lagged, it flowed. A mask is dropping.

Thank you.

 

Sent: Saturday, December 01, 2007 12:47 PM
Subject:
Following on from coffee ...

Flowing on from Sharon’s answer to the question, {Tai-Chi} also is an expression of worship and gratefulness to the All-Pervading Energy which carries and moves us. It is giving thanks and honouring it by performing the whole form, not just pieces of it. And we all do it to the best of our ability and at whatever stage we are at.

 

Sent: Tuesday, August 14, 2007 10:28 PM
Subject: Weekly and a bit report

On Thursday, 9 August, I had the second Ultrasound. It found that the clot in my deep vein in the calf had reduced in size from 20cm to 11cm, and that the clot in the vein near my ankle had reduced in size from 4cm to 1cm, both shrinking from the bottom up.

Saturday class and coffee was very moving. One thing in particular that Rowena said, that rang so true is that everyone should be doing Tai Chi in the mornings. What a wonderful world it would be!

Practising with the 3 others today I noticed that my feet are more stable on the outside of the foot, and that if I put weight on them, sometimes the inside seems to “crumble” / not hold the weight.

Surrender” – I keep stumbling across it again and again at the moment.

 

Sent: Thursday, August 02, 2007 7:17 AM
Subject: Weekly report

What a week! Extremely busy at work, but also some new things happening. In the mornings, I have begun getting up earlier. I have started doing the basic Sahaja meditation in the mornings after getting up. I like this.

Yesterday evening I again had the urge to do some Tai Chi moves. It sometimes comes when I play a certain song / mantra on CD (“Om Namoh” it is called), but in the last weeks I noticed the urge to practise usually comes around the middle of the week.

Tuesday class – I liked what you said about 'S.F.O.R' being all about "Surrender to Mother Earth”. I can see it and I can see that this is one of the areas which still needs to work on me / I need to be open to be worked on.

In terms of physical sensations, my leg has been fine, nothing extraordinary to report. The only other thing that has occurred is that sometimes during the day I feel a little light / light-headed / dizzy. It usually only last a few seconds, and makes me slow down a little.

 

Sunday, 29 July 2007
Doing “Wild Horse Parts Mane” today, I noticed my stance was much lower than I remember. It felt more grounded and stronger.
After treatment today, I ended up sleeping for 4 hours in the afternoon. I needed it and was much more alert after.

 

Saturday, 28 July 2007
Some slight discomfort deeper in the left calf. This has been going on since Thursday, but is only very irregular.
During form today, the feeling of greater connectedness and also of being moved and held by the energy was there again. That level of awareness seems to become more “normal” now.
In the last few days, I have also noticed that my hands like “flicking out”. Like a little explosion.

 

Sent: Wednesday, July 25, 2007 8:41 PM
Subject: Weekly report

Wednesday, 25 July 2007
Thought about doing the form in the evening. It was a mild evening, clear, dark sky, only the moon, a few stars and city lights. Did S1 & S2. Felt again more connected, heavy on the legs. Just after raising the Chi (very slow today), my hands felt very soft. During S1 and early in S2, my arms a couple of times felt like the weighted strings on a Chinese hand drum. Just before “Cloud Hands” in S.2, the pace increased. The second part of S2 was done at a more rapid pace. A couple of times I seemed to lose my balance, but regained it.
In the last couple of days my chest and belly seemed to have large bubbles inside. A little uncomfortable, but bearable.

Tuesday, 24 July 2007
Nothing too unusual to report. Woke up earlier.

Monday, 23 July 2007
Pain in the lower back was back. Returned late in the morning, but gone by mid-evening.

Sunday, 22 July 2007
The connectedness and feelings of dense and light at the same time continued during class today.
The treatment again went very deep. I am amazed at what is happening inside my body and the connectedness of spots of discomfort / blockages. Thank you! My walk was very different today after treatment, with my knees flexing backwards as part of each step.

Saturday, 21 July 2007
During form today I had the feeling of being moved again, as well as of connection between arm and leg movements. At one point, my head was tilted forward, too. I got so carried away with the unusual feeling, that I lost my way after first “Cloud Hands” in S.3. But found it again and all was well.
At times I noticed how I was worried about “oh, I don’t know what comes after this move”. But then, I reminded myself that I wasn’t there yet and relaxed. And, lo and behold, the form remembered itself.

Friday, 20 July 2007
Today I noticed a difference in my walk. I was carrying a small briefcase and my body seemed to rotate / counter-weight the briefcase. At times I felt like I was being walked, with arms, legs, and back connected and being shifted.

 

Sent: Thursday, July 19, 2007 10:30 PM
Subject:
Report for Monday to Thursday

In terms of DVT issues, there is very little to report. I do not feel any discomfort in the leg anymore.
Some observations:
Wednesday - I noticed that when walking down steps, the heels of both my feet really do go down first
Thursday - I did S.1, very slowly and felt quite dense energy around my arms as well. I feel more connected within.

 

Sent: Sunday, July 15, 2007 8:35 PM
Subject: Daily Report

Little to report today. Class felt very good and I felt the Chi stronger, at times it even felt like my breathing was automatic. It felt like it reached down to my lower abdomen and moved in tune with the movement.

In terms of calf discomfort, none to only minor on a couple of occasions.

Thank you for the treatment and the discussion over lunch at La Vera’s. It helped clarify direction and options.

 

Sent: Saturday, July 14, 2007 8:25 PM
Subject: Daily update

Today there was hardly any noticeable discomfort! Only a couple of times in the afternoon, but nothing major. I put the speed of the recovery mainly down to your treatment.

During form today, there were times when I felt more strongly that I am being moved. I t began with the raising of the Chi, when I let my arms relax more and experienced them being carried. A few times during the form, I found myself going deeper / bending the knees more.

 

Sent: Friday, July 13, 2007 8:46 PM
Subject: Friday's report

Nothing unusual to report, really. I feel more grounded and in my life. There is still mild discomfort in the left calf, especially late in the afternoon and in the evening. When the discomfort and pain was stronger, I often felt the need to get up and walk about. As it has settled, that need has waned as well. I guess just the feeling of not having anything unusual to report is actually unusual.

Hmm. I look forward to Saturday’s class!

 

Sent: Thursday, July 12, 2007 9:17 PM
Subject: Daily Update

I slept through without waking up in the middle of the night. Woke a little earlier than the last few days and felt more energetic. Getting up, my first thought was not my leg. Discomfort after doing some steps was moderate to mild. Instead of sitting down to tie my shoelaces, I was standing up. All these are changes to previous days.
During the day today discomfort was moderate to mild, again mainly in the afternoon. At times, and I started this yesterday, I was even able to run short distances.
My walk is a lot more “heely”. Meaning placing weight on heel first, then the rest of the foot. This morning, the soles of both feet felt equally tender and it took a couple of steps to adjust to bearing weight again.
Quite tired tonight, with some pulsating in the belly area.

 

Sent: Wednesday, July 11, 2007 10:15 PM
Subject: Daily report

After treatment yesterday I was tired, but woke at around 1:30am and was wide awake. I ended up doing some writing (drafting an email for work, looking for a better way to set targets and measure performance). I know that unless I get up and do some writing, I will just lie in bed tossing about. I got back to sleep at round 4am.
Getting up was hard due to being a little tired. The leg, however, was more mobile than yesterday. Less discomfort.

During the morning there were a couple of instances when I dealt with unhappy clients. Around way through the morning I noticed that my tummy felt quite bloated and tender inside behind and below the navel.
During lunchtime I went for an extended walk and in the early afternoon, there was again more discomfort in the left calf.
Late in the afternoon I again noticed that I am walking more grounded, using more of my heels on both feet. Towards the end of the day, there is an ongoing level of medium discomfort in the left leg, mainly centred around the knee. It’s quite weird. On the one hand there seems discomfort and it’s like an underlying tone, but on the other hand, when directing my awareness to various spots on my left knee and calf, there seems to be nothing there – no pain. Hmm.

 

Sent: Tuesday, July 10, 2007 8:26 PM
Subject: Daily Report

Getting up seemed easier and I walked more than the previous 10 steps before my calf hardened and the pain returned. With more walking it gets better.
At work, at times there was stronger discomfort in the left calf, but generally it was ok.
I noticed that my walk appears more “squat” – lower and it seems that my legs are moving more independently and I am more aware of my hips. As mentioned, there is still discomfort sometimes, but outside observers comment how I am able to walk much better compared to last week.

Treatment today again seemed to open up my breathing. As I mentioned, I also felt a cool sensation, like water, along the left side of my spine. I noticed you worked on my left calf with both your hand and foot, which did not cause me any pain. A huge change even to the day before. Later, when walking after dropping you off, there again was discomfort in the calf, but that seems to be necessary at the moment.

Thank you.

 

Sent: Monday, July 09, 2007 8:56 PM
Subject: RE: daily report
Hello Ric,
Thank you for the treatment yesterday. Here is my update on progress:
Yesterday - I slept most of the afternoon. Getting up was easier, and in the evening I spent some time walking around inside the living room. Discomfort in my calf persisted, although it felt a little lighter. This morning - getting up was easier, although about 10 steps after getting up, there is still a lot of tension inside the calf muscle. That passes though to a lesser level of discomfort in the calf. At work I moved about a lot, and a couple of times I had a shot of pain in my belly. On the way home Dinh commented that I almost seem to walk normally. I still have pretty constant discomfort in my calf. Just as I was leaving work in the late afternoon, my right heel felt a little sore.
Another observation - using the lift to get up to our apartment, the discomfort increased. Maybe it is due to removing myself from Mother Earth.

 

Sent: Sunday, June 10, 2007 9:39 AM
Subject:
RE: Some observations

Hello Ric,

As Jane mentioned last Saturday, it helps to look at trends. I can see growth and development in my Tai Chi. Especially yesterday’s experience doing the form confirmed what I had been suspecting from earlier experiences. Because I have done S.1 the longest, changes in my experience of doing it that later permeate the form begin (as so many things) in S1. Stating the obvious, but that’s the way it is. Just to recap, yesterday whilst doing the form in S.1, I felt very light. I didn’t actually feel myself at all, which was quite disconcerting. At the time there were two emotions: joy at the newfound lightness, and unease at the unfamiliar way of being. Thinking about it afterwards, it appears to me that I am at the threshold of a new “level” of doing Tai Chi where some of the gross blockages have been removed and a new, lighter way of being and doing appears within reach.

Tai Chi coffees the last two Saturdays in particular have felt very enriching and supportive. I feel understood and supported; in my Tai Chi development (the above and my speed of moving), as well as what is happening in the rest of my life. I also love hearing about the other’s experience and insights. Yesterday, particularly nice, was Jane’s insight that the form actually tells a story, albeit a long-forgotten one which is awaiting rediscovery. Spinning on from there, I suspect that some of Jung’s (?) archetypes will be found in it.

Anyway, thank you.

 

Sent: Thursday, June 07, 2007 10:08 PM
Subject:
Some observations

Classes this week really have been a lesson in just "keeping going". During Push Hands, I seem to keep forgetting the lessons of the previous day and I feel clumsy and like it's "back to square one". I believe that things will get clearer, but this seems to be a very rough patch I am on at the moment.

Well, the weather this morning certainly seemed to reflect that. I can't remember getting this drenched. It was distracting, especially when I realised I did not bring a spare pair of dry socks for the office. As Susanne said "We must be a little crazy", but being out in the rain felt good and made me feel more part of nature.

The other observation is that in recent months, I have noticed myself experimenting more with ambidexterity, using my left hand sometimes when I would normally use my right hand, and vice versa. However, with the added demands at work, this has decreased in the last few weeks. I'm sure it will be back once things settle down a bit in the office.

 

Sent: Thursday, May 24, 2007 9:38 PM
Subject:
Note on this morning's lessons

Dear Ric,

I don’t find as much time to write, but wanted to share with you one thing from this morning. Thank you very much for the lesson. I truly feel like “Both ----” is opening up a completely different level. When we were practising with the very long stance, I actually at one point felt the answer to Andrew’s question about the 'lean-back'. There seemed to be a very fine point of balance in the waist, at which the movement can “fall” either way. I only noticed it once.

Thank you.

 

Sent: Wednesday, May 02, 2007 9:39 PM
Subject:
TC diary

There are more changes in the offing for me – I found out today that at work I have been promoted. I feel that this is a chance to see how well I can integrate into my daily life and business what I am learning in Tai Chi about energy use and flow. I am not sure yet how this will affect my attendance at class.

Physically, at the moment, my feet feel a lot stronger and flexible. When doing the form I often feel very connected and grounded.

This morning was the first time it was a real struggle to get to class. I lay in bed pondering the pros and cons. In the end it came down to what will give me the greater long-term benefit. Thinking about it, even in the short term the benefit of how I feel at the end of a lesson in the fresh air far outweighs the “benefit” of an extra hour restless dozing in bed. I got there and was actually one of the first.

 

Sent: Monday, April 30, 2007 10:13 PM
Subject: Classes more than twice a week?

In my experience I found that greater attendance DID improve my learning as well as having a wonderful effect on the rest of my life …. It helps me look at my priorities and I’ve found the greater attendance helped me in my daily life / job as well. It provides a really nice anchor and a routine which helped ground me. The other benefit is a chance for the teacher – student relationship to deepen, which in turn feeds back into the learning process.

 

Wednesday, 25 April 2007

After 2 weeks on holidays, we returned on the 15th. I returned to TC class last Saturday. In the morning, when tying my shoelace, I pulled my lower back (again) and was actually struggling to walk properly at times.
In class, I participated in the form and found that quite early on the pain in my lower back actually seemed to split into two, at either side of the spine. Later in the form it subsided a little and the separation between two centres wasn’t as clear anymore.
Since then, the pain has pretty much gone away. Today, a new painful spot appeared, higher up along the spine.
My interpretation of all this: inner tension and twisting is opening up, changing my posture and how I hold myself.

 

Sunday, 25 March 2007

The last couple of weeks have felt a little clumsy at Tai Chi. Also, yesterday for the first time my lower arms felt really, really heavy during “raising the chi”. Today I awoke with my left ear blocked and the left side of my head feeling a little woolly.

 

Sunday , 11 March 2007

We woke up at 8.45, too late to go to class. But I had slept really deeply and my legs felt both very light around the feet and calves. Hips and legs felt more connected and balanced (between left and right). Very nice.

 

Saturday, 10 March 2007

Today was really nice.
Whilst driving to class I noticed my vision relax – I was able to take everything in whilst resting my eyes. They did not have to dart about to catch everything that was happening, but felt like they were centred and open.

In class, the form flowed well and I felt much better with the frequency of attending class. Thinking about this, I began to worry if others might overtake me as I am unable to attend every day. I relaxed when I realized that even though I might not ever become a master, being part of this Tai Chi and its growth is more important than being master. I felt great contentment and peace with my place in life at that realization.

After class Ric briefly spoke about the #1 thing in learning Tai Chi: “Come to class!” My take on what he said was that if learning is driven only by what I already know or what my mind considers “my needs and pace”, it will never take me to the highest of what I am capable of. I guess such an attitude negates the wisdom and insight of the universe and the teacher (as someone who has a lot more insight than I might), and constricts the forces of the universe which guide my learning to the boundaries of my (always limited) understanding. If I had to chart a graph of what the learning would look like it would initially increase, but then the increases would become smaller (as I “know” more and more and the boundaries of what I consider possible become narrower and narrower), until it plateaus.
Just turning up to class and always being open to the new can turn learning Tai Chi into a journey of (potentially unlimited) wonder …. or so I imagine J

Coffee after class again provided insight and reflection, as well as just a good time with nice people. Sharon is also experiencing pain in the heel, which apparently is quite a significant event – Chakra balancing out.

Another idea that occurred to me this morning: I am getting a little tired of reporting and focusing on stitches, aches and pains here and there. They are there, do happen, but what if I focused on where it flows?

Yesterday at work was also good – as I was not hungry and didn’t want to waste my time sitting around or doing work in the office, I followed my urge to do the form. I had first thought of this over a month ago, but hadn’t done it. I found a quiet spot in a nearby park and did S1 and S2.

 

Sunday, 4 March 2007

I have missed two important lessons (focus days) in the past 2 weeks due to work commitments or simply being too tired due to work and watching TV. I did practise the form whilst away at a conference last week, but it is like night and day doing it by myself or at class. The energy feels simply much stronger at class.

 

Tuesday, 20 February 2007

Today we started “U..F..”. This morning was just wonderful – just before class and during the first part of class, I had that dense, light, tingly sensation that is accompanied by a feeling of peace. It was wonderful. Then, as we started practising the new lesson, I could sense how the form really becomes a dance. Also, during the “Ready Style” / “All Pervading Ultimate Manifests”/ “Character Ten Arms” / “Unite Tai Chi”, and during some of the lean-backs, I felt movement deep inside my belly. It felt quite energetic.
Also, in the last few days my right heel has really been quite tender / sore. It seems like things are opening up and I am feeling that this is passing as well. 

 

JAN.'07

Thursday, 25 January 2007

Due to work commitments I haven’t been able to go yesterday and today. But Tuesday was quite amazing. It was just Ben and I, and I can’t even remember what we did (going through S1). At some point, facing West (following Ric), I had the strangest sensation. I had been getting quite hot, and suddenly my face and neck were very cool. It was a really nice, peaceful feeling, and actually quite disconcerting (I can’t remember feeling anything like it before). I thought it might be the wind and saw that the leaves were moving a little, but it felt cooler / more intense than a mere breeze. In the last few days I have been questioning that experience, but I do remember very strongly the unusualness of it.

In the evening I went to Sahaja Yoga and will continue going. It felt very good.
Actually, I need a little relaxing. A toothache, my doctor found, was caused by stress. Also, my right eye feels very sore.

 

Sunday, 21 January 2007

Further to yesterday’s entry. It’s an interesting progression of feelings and thoughts. Jealousy, inferiority (or the other way round), shame (because I shouldn’t be feeling jealous) etc. A merry-go-round of thoughts and feelings. Ultimately, I realised this morning, and as a friend in Germany once said: “You can whip a rose, but it’s still not going to grow any faster”. Each and every one moves and learns at their own tempo, subject to the guidance of the All-Pervading Energy. There is nothing I can do to speed it up or make it happen – in fact, if I try and attempt to force a particular point, I will actually, at best, slow down progress, or stop, or, at worst, regress.

There is another issue which has been bugging me. I have been reading about the effects of fossil fuel depletion, global warming and climate change, population growth, and our current economic system, and a lot of what I read points to very hard times ahead. I worry about how we will go. This morning a thought entered my mind: if I believe that one way or another mother earth is healing herself, and if I believe that, for example, through Tai Chi, I am returning more and more to Her way of living the human life, then I can trust that She will carry and look after me.

 

Saturday, 20 January 2007

Doing the form was really good. At various times I felt light and flowing, more so than I remember. At one point I had a sharp, pointed pain in the right foot. For a moment I also felt it in my left hand.
Afterwards, when Ric commented on Ben, it opened the door to exploring my ambition, my desire, and the amount of effort that I put into it. I think it was during coffee when I also started thinking about my liking for material comforts, and how that impacts on the life choices I make. It made me sad, and I began feeling down. A sort of detachment came over me, which stayed with me for quite some time during the day.
The more I want, the more energy I have to invest, the harder it gets. Doing “Wild Horse Parts Mane” earlier, there was one point when I stopped trying to “do it right”, and I noticed how much tension I held in my body. It felt very light after that. This so applies to a lot of things, both to learning Tai Chi as well as in everyday life.

Ric also mentioned over coffee that early on, the body becomes more energy-efficient as one’s appetite improves. As a result, some people put on weight unnecessarily. Something to be aware of in terms of eating.

We saw the “Shaolin Warriors” today. Although the show was very fast moving and had a lot of action, it seemed very laboured. There was a lot of Qi-Gong (as Ric said), a lot of “pow!” but to me it appeared a little hollow. It’s missing the flow, and I noticed how much I like the meditativeness of constant balance Tai Chi.

 

Thursday, 18 January 2007

First “Push Hands” after the break. I felt, very clumsy. Sometimes I feel sorry for Ric for having to work through so much resistance. Or maybe I just feel sorry for myself J. Whilst observing Ric and Ben practise, I noticed how my weight was on my right foot. When I put my weight equally on both feet, my left leg felt weak and started shaking at the knee. Funny – left leg shaking, right leg no worries. At the end of class, after a lot of times feeling really wooden and inflexible, Ric still said “pass”. It seems like success in spite of myself, and quite undeserved. Really strange. Then Ric explained that “now you see why ….”. I again thought “no, I don’t” – taking it in, I guess I sense an inkling of why. But I wouldn’t say I consciously know or can put into words. The journey continues.

 

Wednesday, 17 January 2007

It is so goooood to be back at class. Went back on Sunday. On Tuesday Dinh came to class and it was wonderful raising the Chi together. At times I felt like I was being carried. That feeling was repeated today. Ben and I began doing S.2 from end to front. It really messes with the mind. Doing the form at times felt very easy and light, and again, that feeling of being “home”.

Physically there are more changes I am becoming aware of (or I am just trying more things). I noticed I can bend my wrists to right angles (towards the palm side of the hand), and with straight palms it looks very linear. Similarly, I have observed that I can pretty much have a very straight line from the tip of my fingers right through to the elbow. Maybe a new awareness maybe changes. Riding the bike today to work felt more effortless than it has in the past. I was literally powering along.

 

Saturday, 6 January 2007

I haven’t done the form any other time this week. The legs / feet / pelvic area has been quite heavy and sore for most of the week. On Wednesday, I realised something when looking at my feet: my toes are changing! Aside from my big toe, the others seem to have relaxed, gotten straighter and more flexible. That was a really surprising realisation.
Also, on Thursday I had an insight into the tensions in my lower back and pelvic area. Often my mind seems to focus on it, to “fight” it. The tension and discomfort is judged as something undesirable and “I wish it would stop”. But in some way that just seems to keep it there, holding it, locking it in. On Thursday I realised there is another way of looking at it: rather than seeing it as something that hasn’t been there before, it actually has been there all these years, but that only now have I become aware of it, and this awareness is changing things. Again, words are rather inadequate to describe the experience, but it felt more comfortable and less stressful.

Both at work and in my relationship with Dinh I am feeling stronger and somehow seem to be developing an awareness of when I’m “in the thick of it” and when I’m “stepping back to survey the landscape”.
Today I have also had the experience of feeling very light. The feeling had a nice, playful, airy quality about it.
My feet, at times, are still quite sore. I keep waking up in the middle of the night, and hardly being able to walk to the bathroom. Odd.
Just thought of one way of describing that light feeling: contentment.

 

Monday, 1 January 2007

I felt like resting today. I woke up with my legs and feet feeling heavy and fluffy. I asked Dinh to touch my feet and describe what she felt. She used the terms numb, swollen, tender. To me they did not feel unpleasant. I also felt quite hot.
In the early evening, I went for a walk. Got as far as the Tai Chi practice area and then performed the form up to “Jade Maiden” in S.3 (it was raining and I got soaked).
Two observations:

1)      doing “F.W.F.” I noticed that in particular my left foot seems more flexible. Previously this foot used to feel slightly unbalanced, like a wobbly table, whenever I leaned back on that leg. It feels a lot smoother now.

2)      during “Wild Horse Parts Mane”, it almost felt like a huge wave was pushing me from behind. My footing was strong, but it just pushed me into bending my knee lower, and my back moved more flexibly, too. ?!

 

 

DEC.'06

Wednesday, 27 December 2006

The last couple of weeks have been pretty intense in terms of work. Tai Chi – wise, since classes stopped, I have noticed that about every 2 days I get the urge to do the form in the early evenings. Yesterday when I did it, I just seemed to whiz through the movements.

The other important development at the moment is that I seem to be particularly tired. I had a couple of days when, even without an extraordinary amount of walking, come mid-afternoon, I am really tired. I usually try to sleep and when I did on Monday, even though I might only have slept for about 30 minutes to 1 hour, I felt really, really refreshed. The tiredness seems to particularly affect my legs.

I had an interesting experience yesterday: I was resting and my whole body was pulsing! I remember describing a similar experience a couple of months ago, but at that time only my legs were affected. The experience is not necessarily unpleasant and, if I don’t do anything, it works best. If I try to force it or support it, the intensity seems to wane.

Putting my thinking hat back on, this month I had another insight into the difference between trying to do something and simply doing what I am told. The particular action was the straightening I had observed Ric do at the end of, for example, Single Whip. I remember I used to intentionally try and copy that particular aspect. Since doing F. W. F., it appears as a by-product. However, if I really were to push it and insist on doing it the way I remember seeing Ric do it, and forcing myself to straighten (as an added thing I “have” to do to get it right), this would actually prevent me from concentrating on what I was asked to do by Ric. It would actually slow my progress.

Speaking of progress, I had an inkling of a spectacular kick and where it would fit in the form. The crouching end part of “sea bottom seek needle” would appear to lend itself to a fantastic spinning kick. Imagination?

 

Thursday, 7 December 2006

During Push Hands, my body at times, whilst I was standing and watching Ric and Ben, straightened. My knees felt like they were filling out and my stance felt very strong. My chest and belly also felt like they were filling out in parts, but it’s not quite connected yet. I was standing very straight and the tension at the front of my chest (from a few days ago) was back again. I felt it very strongly and it appeared connected to a spot at the back, along the spine, between the shoulder blades. The connection seemed to run through my neck.

All in all, a slightly strange, but also very encouraging sensation – there was strength and flexibility/suppleness/softness there, simultaneously.

 

Monday, 4 December 2006

I believe my Tai Chi wants to assert itself more strongly in my daily life now. It is becoming especially obvious in relation to the amount of time I spend at work.
Phew. What a long, long day. Also at work today, there was the feeling of something opening up on the outer side of my left foot. For some time in the afternoon, it was sore to walk on.

 

Sunday, 3 December 2006

I learnt something about leadership today: if you want something done a particular way and it’s not happening that way, say something (rather than just putting up with it).

Ric repeated what he had told me a few sessions now. There is a problem with my vision. I always stand further back than where I should be.

I felt a little flow during “cloud hands” today. Also, when Ric showed S2 at the end of class, he mentioned that he was answering my question. It was a bit cryptic at the time (What question was he answering? What was the answer?). Later, he explained, that it had to do with my timing question of yesterday and that my “Single Whip” is the problem …. I am taking a shortcut on it.

Over coffee, it again became clear to me that having the work X-mas party on Friday night and having a couple of beers there affected my performance the next day. The other thing that became clear is that my being cross-eyed as a child is what is affecting my vision at the moment. And that dizzy incident of a few weeks back is connected with that problem as well.

 

Saturday, 2 December 2006

I really struggled today. Felt very much out of synch. At coffee, I mentioned that and also that I am getting a little tired of “always” being left wing.
Saturday night: pain around the centre of the chest. A lot of tension.

 

 

NOV.'06

Thursday, 30 November 2006

The mind thinks in words. Words are the prison. My vocabulary is determined by my experience, and limited by it. Sometimes a new experience comes along which does not fit in the old categories. It will require the learning of new vocabulary to share it, or simply no more focus on the words.

In the morning, when practising with Ben and Lionel, I somehow managed to really stuff up the positioning of where we stood. Being senior, it was on my shoulders. And I really did not get it right. It was so frustrating. Odd though, here I felt that something was wrong, and then it was wrong. The experience of the evening class was virtually the opposite:
For a large part of the lesson I was absolutely sure that it did not feel right, that I was doing something very wrong. However, the feedback at various stages was, that what I was doing was good and I was doing it well. Make sense of that!
In doing “ward off”, “no foot” equals no thinking. I noticed how thinking keeps me rigid and prevents me from tapping into the flow. Life would be a lot easier if I was tapping into the flow a lot more (and thinking a lot less).

 

Wednesday, 29 November 2006

Yesterday we did “Brush Knee”. We practised just the hands, and my two sides felt out of sync, especially my right arm. About way through the session, we did it again, and it felt a lot more in sync.

What is the lesson? My mind sometimes wants to hang on to what it “knows”, or, more accurately to what it “knows that it doesn’t know yet”. The drive for perfection, of having everything 100% right is just a prison built by the mind. It can always find fault and it will always find something that’s not quite as the mind imagines it should be.
This is getting tiring. Just writing this analysis about how my mind works is tiring, it’s like I’ve been stuck at this stage for months. The prison of the mind has been topical for the last few months, over and over. I guess the only way to transcend it is to accept it as it is and to actually T R A N S C E N D it. Leave it behind. Get tired of it like a child gets tired of a toy. Outgrow it. But I guess the child is always looking for new stimulation. And if there are only “old” toys and nothing new to capture its imagination, it may continue playing with the old toy, but with less and less enthusiasm until it stops. And waits for something new. I guess another reaction would be anger and being demanding. Depending on the person? Anyway, the point is, at some point everything is outgrown. Writing this I sometimes get quite annoyed and impatient to outgrow this (now perceived?) obstacle. What will I write about then? Mind lives in words. This diary in future may shrink a little
J

 

Saturday 25 November 2006

What an amazing week – I was able to rescue a pigeon, which was trapped in the stairwell. I couldn’t go to class on Tuesday morning and Thursday night, but on the other days I felt a lot lighter. I am beginning to feel the shift between “F.W.F.” and “E.I.S.” in a few places– Tai Chi is really beginning to feel like a dance.

Lying down on Thursday night, I noticed tension along my back. I am learning to trust and feel my place a lot more, allowing myself to be carried by Mother Earth.

I believe I am close to implementing some “form” in my work-life, with openings, closings, and spaces in-between. Things are becoming clearer. It is time for me to step up into the disciplined life. I am looking forward to the next few weeks!

 

Monday, 20 November 2006

Feeling very heavy this morning. Same as last Monday. The week ahead is full of work. At the end of last week I had moments of peace, almost transcendence. I felt a very small sapling of hope and a life in balance inside the hustle and bustle of the business of life. Business and busy-ness! The way it is can’t be it. There must simply be better alternatives. There are alternatives.

 

Sunday, 12 November 2006

Last Tuesday, we practised “F.W.F.”. At the end Ric asked me: “Do you understand your lesson?” Initially I looked blankly, he repeated the question, but my head felt empty / numb. My head said “no, not really”, but my mouth said a very clear “yes”. And yes, there was clarity about the lesson.

On Wednesday, at the beginning, I had a tingle in my tailbone. That left pretty soon after.

On Thursday morning, doing “F.W.F.” the first turn in “Jade Maiden” was amazing – it put a spring in my step for the rest of that sequence. Actually, that is another thing I am becoming aware of – at “F.W.F.”, the whole form becomes more like a dance, with very clear lifts and shifts of weight. It accentuates the form.
I left early, as I wanted to be at work early. I missed a good chance to revise S3, in particular the parts I have been unsure of in the last week. Tai Chi training will come first in future. Work will wait.

At Push Hands, I surprised Ric, when I spontaneously changed directions in ward-off. Apparently that was faster than the time Danya took to develop that skill. Wow. It meant taking some risks and experimenting. But it was also just fun!

Friday night, I had a pretty powerful experience – we were at the traffic lights, when suddenly I felt dizzy. When we were safely parked on the left hand side of the road, I was able to give in to the experience. It seemed to spin my vision counter-clockwise. Feeling my hands on the steering wheel and, after I took them off, on my legs, gave some stability. After a while, the spinning stopped, but my brain at the base of my skull felt very fluffy. Also, when I looked from left to right, my vision seemed to have some inertia. The word “psychedelic” comes to mind. We ended up getting up and walking down the footpath to “La Vera” pizza restaurant, where we sat down. It was good sitting, but I became aware of how busy and noisy the restaurant was. I felt very peaceful and did not really have the need to talk a lot. The back of my head, about half way down my spine, felt very full, fluffy, and light. I didn’t think a lot either; it was just a state of being.

Saturday – the form flowed wonderfully. I felt “F.W.F.” throughout large parts of S1 and S2, a little less in S3. My confidence in being left wing in S3 returned. I enjoyed the form and at the end, felt very satisfied and full. Did not really have a great desire for communication, but was happy just being.

I had the feeling of having completed a particular curriculum. It was like revision and things falling into place. Like a dancer’s performance after months of practice. It was beautiful and enjoyable.
We went for coffee afterwards, but the discussion at times almost became too much.

Sunday – Ben and I worked with Lionel today. He wasn’t specific about where he was up to, I didn’t remember but Ben said “Jade Maiden”. I asked Lionel to show us where he was up to, but he ended up starting at the beginning of S3. It took too long and I began getting impatient …. I felt like interrupting proceedings, but didn’t say anything. Ric did.

I was wearing 3 layers today and actually got quite hot and sweaty. I asked Ric afterwards and he explained at Rosso’s. Jo was up from Canberra, too!

 

Sunday, 5 November 2006

What a rainy, windy day. In the evening I felt the urge to practise and did so. Maybe I can start doing the form in the evenings if / when I feel like it. I am sure it will do me good.
Also, I will start going to Sahaja Yoga meetings on Tuesdays with Ben.

 

Saturday, 4 November 2006

During class I felt completely out of it, both in terms of remembering parts of the form and in terms of pace. Must be the after-effects of the 3-4 beers I had with colleagues from work the night before. When leading I did not seem to go at the right pace and when advancing Dinh I mucked up as well. However, I had inklings of the two waves again in the “Repulse Monkey” moves. During S.3 I kept thinking about parts of the form I am unsure of / “I don’t know”. Peace came over me when I realised that “I don’t know” is only about “I” but that the Chi always knows and does... So it is about trusting and being guided by it. Nothing really new, but still, the realisation was quite strong.
Coffee was nice and helping Ben move was good as well – a good chance to talk and get to know each other better.

 

Friday, 3 November 2006

I woke up with a big headache, which lasted throughout the day. Maybe practising break falls brought it on. The headache seemed to centre in the middle of my head and, when I watched my posture and didn’t think about too many things at the same time, it receded. But when my posture slipped or when I got frazzled at work, it came back.

Fri night we had some drinks at work. After I got home, I was watching TV. AT some point it dawned on me that watching TV seems like being hooked up to a machine that sucks the life force from me. It numbs and deactivates. The image was that of an arched tube or hose running from the TV to the lifeless body’s forehead. Do I really want to be like that?

 

Thursday, 2 November 2006

During morning class, doing “Fair Maiden Shuttles Loom”, I realised two things: the importance of stability in the great turntable of the hips (and how my alignment feels a little out of whack), and maybe one other reason why “Fair Maiden” is so difficult (it is meant to take years to learn). The reason being that the energy is moving up, forward, and twisting at the same time. The two moves (to the left and right), where the arms are at right angles are “charging up” for the final one where the energy is projected through the curling hand.??

At the end of S3 I again had snatches of that very solid feeling in the legs again.

In the evening we practised break falls before doing Push Hands. I feel a lot better doing Push Hands now.

 

Wednesday, 1 November 2006

I am starting to write notes straight after class. It helps remembering and I have it fresher in my mind. Today was quite strong. We were practising the stance in S.2 and my legs began shaking. The shakes got stronger and I tried not to resist them. At some stage even my breathing got almost laboured. Towards the end of doing S.2, though, my legs began to feel very solid. Tense comes to mind, but it is not really the right word. They just felt very, very solid and my stance felt a lot stronger. The shakes and laboured breathing stopped later in the form. Sitting in the car, my legs still felt quite stiff.

 

 

OCT.’06

Tuesday, 31 October 2006

Practised S1 today with Ric, Ben and Brenda. At the end we performed the Chi-raising exercise. I felt spontaneous rise until about 1/3 of the way up, and then no more. I couldn’t let my arms be raised any higher. Felt an energy around the right shoulder / armpit. The image that came to mind was of little trickles of Chi making their way through parched channels, re-infusing them with life. There was some discussion about what we felt and the inductive reasoning that is so lost to western science. What is the factual observation? State that first. But move beyond that to the question “what is my perception?” Also, there is the tendency for us students to wait until “we have enough to write about”, rather than putting pen to paper straight away without too much analysis. “Just write about the experience you had and what you perceived, first.”

Sort of proved the point: I didn’t write anything down about experiences on the weekend. And now it is a bit of recollection, rather than a close account of what happened. Some experiences felt quite enlightening and enlivening at the time, and had to do with small insights like where to put the weight, a twist of a wrist, or the effects of internal movements. But now, in hindsight, it only boils down to the gross observations. The main one was that on Sunday, doing the form, there was a spontaneous flow that felt light and required no effort during S1. The further I got along the form, the more I tried to remember things or “getting it right”. But I trust that I will also grow through that stage as I go along. The confidence and flow will come.

Another big change (and I forgot that completely in my earlier account): Ric got Danya, me and Ben to advance students from where they were. Wow. It feels strange and good. I trust the All-Pervading Energy will work Her Way through the imperfect vessels.

 

Wednesday, 25 October 2006

Classes on the weekend felt weird. Ric said after Saturday, that it was almost as good as when he used to practice by himself. I just felt very odd. During the form, I was left wing on both days, and on both days I felt out of synch for quite some time.

However, in doing “Single Whip” last Sunday, my arms were more parallel and my shoulders felt looser and wider.

Doing “F.W.F.” at class today, I found that sometimes my feet do not really connect, even though they are on the ground.
In “Repulse Monkey”, the movement up to “pointing the gun at the head” feels like two distinct waves, centring about the hips. And, of course, when I try to emulate them, make two waves, it’s not there.
Also in “Grasp Bird’s Tail” where the weight shifts and the two hands come down together and then the hands twist, it feels like there is a lock in the movement which is unlocked by the hands twisting. Interesting. Again, when I try to focus on it, it’s not there.

 

Friday, 20 October 2006

I felt very stiff at Push Hands yesterday. Little flow, and trying to work things out with my little brain didn’t really help. There was one brief moment when it flowed. Fantastic. The rest of the class was spent trying to get back into that feeling.

Noticing a few changes about my body at the moment. I am beginning to stand straighter, chest out. Speaking of standing, in class on Thursday morning, my legs felt completely different and out of place doing the “Mongolian Horse Stance”,. Very weird. They looked like they were in the right place, feet at the right angles, but just didn’t feel right.

Another building site in my body: the roof of my mouth / sinus area. I sometimes have the urge to make a sucking motion with my mouth closed. It appears similar to a baby’s sucking, but without anything in its mouth. Done repeatedly and in quick succession, it can be quite painful actually.

Finally, my ears in the last week seem to unblock quite frequently. I’ve experienced it before, but not as often as in the past week so that my hearing seems to be a lot clearer. Sounds become a lot sharper. Like a fog is lifting.

 

Tuesday, 17 October 2006

What an amazing lesson. Today I started “F.W.F”. It was beautiful, disconcerting and surprising. Of course, initially I didn’t feel anything. But as I went on, it became stronger. Also, there was a weakness in my left inner structure. The level of perception is quite amazing. Eventually my left knee began to shake.

 

Sunday, 15 October 2006

On Friday morning I had a strange experience – I stood by the sink in the kitchen and my hand passed across a bowl of water, which had been standing there overnight. I felt warmth in my palm. I passed my hand back across the bowl, and it was only when my hand was above the water that I felt this. I guess I must be feeling the reflection of my body heat (given off by my palm) as I passed my hand across the bowl. I cannot remember having experienced that before.

Saturday class was good – I felt a flow every now and then. Practising with Lionel and Dinh, I felt myself opening like a book. Definitely a connection between left arm, left leg and right arm. Sweet.

I have been thinking about “knowing what I’m doing” / “knowing the form” again. Unless I’m prepared to forget what I learnt and experience every move as new and fresh, I will not progress. Why? Because once I think I’ve “figured” a particular move out and “know” it, I begin to expect it to look and feel a particular way. Once I expect it to be a particular way, I stop being open to the small (and sometimes large) corrections the Chi might want to make, and I end up stale and wondering why I’m not progressing. I guess the only point at which I can stop is when there is flow throughout the form. But that again is probably only an illusion, with more letting go required once I “arrive” there.

 

Thursday, 12 October 2006

My posture is changing. I stand straighter. At class I was able to detect when I was in the wrong spot. I really appreciate having someone else to practise and “play” with in Push Hands. It is so much fun! However, I still feel completely lost from time-to-time; no notions of right or wrong worked. Persisting patiently is the best avenue.

Thinking about the real Tai Chi: it is beautiful to feel the flow of the energy, naturally. No mind-altering / consciousness-expanding substances – they may have been necessary or a bridge at some point { Sifu's 'contribution':"???" } But to be able to experience the spontaneous flow of Chi just like that – sweet. I can also understand now why Ric won’t teach beyond a certain level, if people are still using any consciousness-altering substances.

Funny observation: I felt the flow, and was so rapt in analysing the moment that I promptly lost it again. I think it likes to play hide-and-seek. Or it simply is not around when the analytical mind gets to work.

 

Wednesday, 11 October 2006

I made it to class this morning and it was great again. However, at the moment I feel that my work is drawing a lot of my attention and energy. I am a little sad about not being able to put as much into Tai Chi as I did in previous months. But maybe it’s also good to continue building my life in the outside world as well, one influencing and feeding off the other.

At the end of “Right Part Foot” and “Left Part Foot”, during “sleep shoulders” I felt very vulnerable. It felt almost devotional. It is a feeling I rarely experience during my everyday, probably something that I haven’t quite integrated.

 

Tuesday, 10 October 2006

Today is one of the few times I found it too difficult to get out of bed in time for class. Actually, since Saturday my whole body has felt very strange / hard. The flies came back for the first time after winter, and it is amazing how such a small insect can draw so much of my attention. I’m tempted to brush them off and rub my eyes. But that is probably not so good. I noticed a certain relationship between the hand doing the arc and the foot movement during “Cloud Hands”. It will be explored with great interest.

On Saturday Dinh and I spent most of the time in direct sunlight on a whale-watching cruise. At the time, I didn’t feel the need for sunglasses. But when we got home and laid down on the sofa, we didn’t wake up until an hour and a half later.
Saturday was also full moon, that probably also has an effect on my well-being. As well as slowly getting the feeling that I might have bitten off more than I can chew, both at work and with all my projects. People are beginning to tell me I need to relax more.

Last night I stopped in the park on the way home and did S1 and part of S2. It felt really nice doing the form in the cool of the night.

Oh, on a really high note – Dinh had a wonderful experience at Tai Chi on Saturday (a drop of Kundalini energy on her back), and I was so happy to see that she has begun to write things down as well. In all the edginess and weirdness I feel in my body at the moment, there was also a lot of tenderness and closeness in being with Dinh. Maybe I am doing too many things.

 

Friday, 6 October 2006

Yesterday whilst leading S3, I led the others astray a couple of times. My brain was working overtime again. However, I also vaguely remember a pleasant sensation the second time we did S3, when Danya took over left wing.

Today I practised S2 and S3. Still a bit shaky in S3. However, during “Cloud Hands”, at one points my hands felt like they were very dense energy. It felt a little strange, but good.
Also, I wore my kung fu shoes throughout the day. When running to cross the road at lunchtime, my feet felt pretty stiff, and at one point it almost seemed like something inside my foot snapped. I assume it snapped back into place because by the afternoon both my feet felt more grounded. Funny how this has happened just as I am about to begin “F.F.”.

 

Wednesday, 4 October 2006

A few observations:

-        I used to cross my ankles under the table whilst sitting in the office. I am beginning to find more strength and stability if both feet are flat on the ground.

-        On the weekend the roof of my mouth got painfully sore. It appears OK now though.

-        Today during S2, in particular “Cloud Hands”, I noticed how “off” my timing was in terms of weigh-shift. Also, my hips found another way of tilting. Interesting.

-        My legs were quite sore when I got home from work today. And this morning I again had pangs of lower back pain …

 

 

SEP.’06

It has been an eventful few weeks. A couple were spent travelling. Doing Tai Chi stance on the plane was good, and I even did the form once in Bangkok airport. It was a bit awkward finding a quiet spot, but in the end, I thought, what the heck.
Time spent in Germany was very intense. We drove 1900km within eight days, including lots of time with family, friends, and new contacts. I practised the form (mainly S1 & S2) every other day, but it is very different doing it on your own. After two weeks away, I was very, very glad to be back in class.

In the last week, I have again been to class all days except Monday and Friday. Work is really becoming a lot more intense now, and I find that Tai Chi in the mornings is a good, solid foundation and routine.
During Push Hands on Thursday, I had once again the feeling of absolutely not knowing what was right or wrong, and just persisting with it. I tried to adapt and at some point gave up the “should I push harder” / “should I be more flexible” and decided to be open to and submit to the Chi, which is moving both partners in push hands. Nothing dramatic happened, but it was a new, hopeful and nicer perspective than me / you.
During class on Saturday, there were a couple of times when I became aware of the muscles around my lower spine, which seemed to be more flexible.

 

Wednesday, 6 September 2006
Practising “Heel Pivots” in S2. Shifting weight during "Single Whip" affects my moves in S2 as well (“Turn & Chop Fist”). There were a few moments when it felt very light again. Fun: doing “fast forward” from heel pivot to heel pivot in S2. I am amazed at how well the moves flow.
 

Tuesday, 5 September 2006
I was asked to arrange the group and do S1 with them. I was left wing and during the first part of brush knee, I felt like I was part of a huge swirling energy. Maybe it was because everyone else was behind me – it was amazing. I was going to ask Ric about it, but as soon as my brain started reflecting and thinking, the feeling was gone (as could be expected
J).
Later that day, during lunch, I was walking along the footpath when I rolled my right ankle. I was amazed how supple I felt. Afterwards I walked a little gingerly, but stopped and put weight on it and it was fine. When comparing with past experiences of rolling ankles, and taking into consideration the suddenness and force of the move, I would have expected a lot more pain (there hardly was any), as well as swelling and major limping.
Also, in the afternoon, my throat became sore, which continued into Wednesday. I guess it is the stress of the past weeks that is surfacing and making its way out of my system.
 

Sunday, 3 September 2006
Exciting – maybe I’ll get to meet Steffi and start Tai Chi in Salzburg! This morning when practising “Heel Pivots”, I felt a really strong pain in the left side of my stomach. I mentioned it to Ric. Amazing – he said it is actually the beginnings of awareness at Chakra-level. Wow.
We also did the raising of the Chi with Helena. Ric in front, me behind her, and the others behind us. It felt quite amazing and very warm at the front of my body.
Another sensation – I have, in the past few days, also felt a sense of discomfort / almost a tinge of slight nausea in my stomach. This combines with sometimes a sense of disorientation / feeling out of it. Especially this morning at the beginning of S1.
The other amazing thing we did today was S2 at speed. It actually felt like a martial art, and again, as soon as my brain tried to pick up on what was happening (during “Cloud Hands”), I lost the flow.
Tonight, whilst resting on the couch, there was again the pleasant sense of pulsating, pretty much through out my legs and torso.
 

Saturday, 2 September 2006
When Ric revised “Wild Horse Part Mane” with us today, he confirmed again: "no stance, no kung fu". We must know what our lower body (legs and hips) is doing, only then will the other things follow. …. “It begins with a stance”. Yes, it’s still like being at the absolute beginners’ level – it is just so important.
I also noticed how when my thoughts wander during the form, and more particularly, when they race, a little tension around the front of my belly arose. Maybe it’s like the tension I noticed after work sometimes in the last couple of weeks.
During coffee, we again had wide-ranging discussions. One important point for me was the importance of voluntariness and choice. Growth can only occur where people have a choice and can exercise their free will.
 

Friday, 1 September 2006
I had the strong urge to practice by myself this morning, in particular S2. I did, it was good – in the past few weeks I hadn’t done TC on Friday mornings, instead I was “taking it easy” or simply too stuffed.
When walking home after work, I noticed how my feet actually wanted to keep the toes pointing inwards slightly. I cannot remember wanting to do that, but it was good as well.
I have begun to feel more peaceful at work.
 

 

AUG.’06

Thursday 31 August 2006
This morning I felt very strongly again the beauty of movement. I love it!
The later I arrive for class, the more difficult it is to get “into it”. Two very strong sensations dominated Push Hands – flexibility in the elbow, and a very stable feeling, like the pillar of a bridge, with water running by either side. Quite beautiful.
 

Wednesday 30 August 2006
On Sunday I mentioned the pain in my knee to Ric. Yes, you can have too much 'yang' going on, and it is amazing how much my intention and attitude expresses itself in small things such as the position of my knee.
Looking back on this month’s entries, it appears that my Tai Chi is influencing my approach to work and wants to find greater respect in my life. At work, I feel it works so much better: letting be and becoming, gently guiding and supporting. Just the last two entries show such a marked difference in my perception and experience.
Been extremely busy the last few days. I felt very disoriented a few times. Today, when I got home, I just wanted to rest, started sitting meditation, but my body soon made it clear that horizontal was the go. I am becoming aware of tension around the front of my stomach and also I am feeling a lot more pulsating sensations at the top of my head, my lower back (when sitting down), etc. When lying down, it almost was as if my whole body was pulsating.
 

Saturday 26 August 2006
The past week has been amazing. Work has been fruitful. In terms of Tai Chi, I have found myself initially noting how in some of the moves where the leg is lifted, I would keep my ankle tense. I was able to let that go.
Another realization was that the hip could move “independently” of the torso. My knees were wobblier, and I had a quite intense intermittent pain along the right side just behind the kneecap, especially when I was putting weight on it. Towards the middle of S.3 it had pretty much gone.
I also noticed what appeared to be my left and right hips/pelvis being able to move independently. Especially during the leaning back moves of S.3. That was a new sensation. A little strange, but I guess I will get used to it. It was there for only a brief moment, but felt very good.
Oh, using the bike is good as well. My way to work is basically up one side of the hill and down the other. It is good to observe my breathing, as well as where and when I begin to tighten up. Compared to when I used to ride my bike in Germany, I have a lot more awareness now of my body and its parts.
 

Thursday 17 August 2006
S.3 practice this morning was good. First day I took the borrowed bike to work.
This evening’s Push Hands was really odd. I intellectually didn’t understand anything. But my body seemed to be doing some things right. Really strange. At first my stance felt really shaky. At one point my left leg was pulsating rhythmically around the knee, which was odd, but not really unpleasant once I got used to it. My whole lower half seemed “wobbly” at times. It was nice to have ‘I’ there and ‘K’ isn’t pushing so hard anymore. The tension I sometimes felt in my shoulder / arm and back seems to have lessened.
 

Wednesday 16 August 2006
Getting to the limits of my mind. We did the “Character Ten Arms” and “Embrace / Carry Tiger Back To Mountain”. The more I focussed on one particular aspect, the less I got it right. Ric talked about the difference between analysing, and simply seeing and becoming. It makes sense. The brain somehow only computes one thing at a time. If I take the whole thing in and simply copy, I would be able to do a lot more. My brain is limiting me. But oh, it is a hard master to lose.
To top it all off, I ‘followed’ by standing in front of Ric with my back to him. D’oh!
 

Tuesday 15 August 2006
What an amazing day! I only spent hour at Tai Chi and then caught an early tram into the city. At the corner of Campbell and Castlereagh Street, I met someone I hadn’t seen or been in contact with in over ten years! Walking on to work, I was pondering my present situation. At that point, I felt something like a mass of water falling off me. It stopped me in my tracks. I can’t remember ever having had a sensation like that before. Very strong.
 

Tuesday 8 August 2006
During S.1 class this morning, I felt some really wild / spasmodic energies rising up the legs and swirling around the waist. It seemed uncontrollable and not very “flowy”, but is the first time I felt it like that.
Also, when I was leading Margaret and Susanne from “White Crane cools Wing” to the last “Brush Knee”, I felt a distinct difference when Ric was behind us and when he left. There was stronger Chi and flow when he was there.
 

Monday 7 August 2006
After work I had the urge to move in Tai Chi; to do S.2, which felt very light. During “Repulse Monkey” I felt like I was standing taller, and also the weight more focussed on each alternate leg. At S.3, in “Wild Horse Parts Mane”; after “bending down”, I felt some swirling energies and sometimes I felt blocked – didn’t know which way to turn. It was a very strong sensation, which showed me that there is a lot more to learn.
I can’t explain why, but tonight I’ve felt very tender on the inside of my upper left arm. Like I’ve bruised it somewhere, but I cannot recall hurting myself.
Also, my stance – I now sometimes realise how tense and tight my knees often are when doing the form. I now try and relax them, when I become aware of it, and it seems to work
 

Sunday 6 August 2006
On Thursday and Friday were the first times I have ever felt how coffee affects me. It feels like a ball of hot, speedy fire, just below the stomach. Amazing. Before I used to drink 1 – 2 cups per day and not much happened. Thursday I had 2 cups, and this happened. Friday; the same effect, after only one cup.
Also, I have eaten more meat this week. A supreme pizza on Thursday night. Friday morning I woke up and felt a great urgency and clarity regarding an issue. The clarity felt good, even though, in social interaction, it may need to be tempered with diplomacy. But it is good to take a stand on issues.
Also this week, I began reading “Dagad Trikon” by Gregoire de Kalbermatten. I love how he condenses aeons of human history into a few pages. Something rings true about it.
 

Thursday 3 August 2006
Looking back at S2 and S.3 practice this morning, there are a lot of new / “old” things to look out for. It just goes on and on (like the spiral).
At the beginning of Push Hands class when squatting, it seemed like my feet were really only touching the ground with the insides – the outsides did not seem to have contact with the ground.
During the left hand swirling exercise, when Ric did it with me, and we stopped, it felt like we were being disconnected. Or maybe it was just me being “off balance”.
The struggle with the mind, with trying to understand continues. Where are the hands touching? Trying to figure it out takes effort. But “stepping back” and taking it in takes trust, which is starting to happen.
It is the trying to understand and control, which causes the struggle and pain. There was actually quite a bit of tingling tension in my mid - lower back towards the end of the session.
The bow & arrow stance felt strong.
Also, today at work, I noticed myself breathing more fully, deeply. Things are opening up.
 

Tuesday 1 August 2006
Repeat S.1. “Brush Knee Twist Step”. I noticed after full extension, the wrist could give way to commence retreating the arm. It is very nice and light.
Then there was the whole thing of keeping the line. The image of the “straight spear” helped.
 

 

JUL.06

Sunday 30 July 2006

Beginning S1, my knees were shaking. As we were doing the form, in a couple of places, I noticed the top of my (right?) thigh. The muscles felt really twisted. The tension around the hip, which I had noticed in the last few weeks, has eased. The last I remember of it is that it actually appeared to pull upwards and inwards. It appeared to pull up the back of my thighs, around the hips to the front, inside to below the belly button.

With the shaking knees, I had the idea to “let go”, because I think I do keep my knees tense when doing the form. Another thing to let go. But it is a leap of faith, a step into the unknown. It is difficult to imagine how I could stand up, if I relaxed my knees.
But it will grow. The more I become aware, the more I let go.

Yesterday I walked in my kung fu shoes from Darlinghurst to Glebe. My feet felt OK for most of the way, but towards the end there was some discomfort. Speaking of discomfort, there was also a dull pain inside my left foot for some time this week [maybe vestiges of the broken ankle I suffered ten years ago?].
 

Thursday 27 July 2006

I didn’t attend Tuesday again, and when we did S.2 on Wednesday, it felt a lot lighter. Not going every day and having some rest as well is probably good for me. But, at the moment having regular class is still very much needed. 

There has been some tension and pain in my left foot for a couple of days now. It is intermittent and will pass as well. Maybe vestiges of the broken ankle I had ten years ago.

During Push Hands class I became very aware that I am on very, very unfamiliar territory. I no longer know what is expected of me and all I can do is keep going. Observing Ric and then trying to do the movement myself, I seems like I am seeing but not seeing. I just can’t compute some of the moves. And all I can do is just try, attempt, have a go. It is at the same time beautiful and a little frightening. Letting go of “knowing”, and just keep on going.

I will also revisit the names of the 108 moves. I now feel that it would help if I could clearly label the moves. Let’s see how I go.
 

Thursday 20 July 2006

Yesterday and today: For a few short glimpses I was aware of my hand/wrist and elbow simultaneously, and noticed them move independently a couple of times.

My first push hands ….in the pouring rain.

Whenever I don’t think I’m doing well, I get told I am. When I think I’m doing well, I’m usually not. Paradox.
 

Wednesday 19 July 2006

There is usually “only one lesson” on at any time.
 

Tuesday 18 July 2006

This morning was just too miserable. I couldn’t make it out of bed.

This afternoon whilst sitting down and talking with a colleague, I felt my voice vibrate at the top of my chest, around the solar plexus and deep within the pelvis. It was a beautiful sensation, a feeling of strength.
 

16 July 2006

Some general observations:
Over the last couple of weeks there were a few times when I noticed tension around my hips and upper thighs (esp. during shaving in the morning … it seems to be the time when I become aware of it). I then consciously relax and only then notice; how light I actually could be.

Speaking of light, there are some times during the form, when I notice my lower arms beginning to feel fluffy and lighter around the outside layers. An unusual, but very pleasant feeling. It is something I also noticed sometimes on the way home from work, when my arms feel very loose. It makes me wonder what it feels like when the whole body reaches that state of fluidity.

I am also beginning to see more and more of the distinction between my intellect / analytical mind controlling the situation and just being with / in the flow. The mind has categories of right and wrong and when my mind speaks, it is usually worried about not remembering the next step (or the next section). Especially when, for example in S.3, I get close to finishing a single whip, there is often the worry “oh no, what next?” When the mind starts racing and following that thought, I begin to seize up. I have to work a lot harder to get the flow then. And, funnily enough, the times when I am able to let go of the thought quickly, and just focus my awareness on the very moment (without thinking even half a movement ahead), “autopilot” takes over and, even though it may not be “perfect”, I sort of always end up doing the right thing.

Right and wrong – in the mind these are black and white, either or. I believe with the Chi, they unfold in stages. Some positions and movements feel “better” or more natural than others. I guess using the intellect to approximate the “good” positions, analyse how the body feels in a particular moment, and to consciously open up is helpful.

The mind becomes a prison when it arrives at the “right” thing. Because usually (at least my mind) then stops being open for more and new things, because it has “mastered” a particular position. I believe the mind that accepts each position as only a closer approximation to the flow and remains open to playfully explore and truly feel what is going on may be as good a tool as it can be. At least until you get to that stage where you are instantaneously aware of everything and the mind is nothing but a walking frame – a necessary support for a while, but once someone can walk it becomes more an obstacle than an aid. Imagine trying to run with a walking frame.

Also, in the last week or so, I have felt stronger “energies” during class. Especially during swirling arm movements like cloud hands and brush knees. My arms sometimes seem to move like along rail tracks. They feel like being pulled by some “magnetic” force and do not really want to go any other way. It almost appears like it would take a huge effort to consciously force them to move along a different path.

Also, I have become aware of the hip as a sort of connection point between pushing arm movements and the legs. Tilting it forward or backwards, depending on the situation, makes the movement feel better. I cannot consciously recall which is which, but it is good to play with when the awareness is there.

Once I felt a faint connection between the twisting yin/yang hands and my lower back around the spine. That was an exciting discovery. Then, last Thursday (during the class with Andrew doing the beginning of S.3), Ric mentioned the Chi flow between the palms during ‘holding the ball’. That time I very faintly felt something like it.

On Friday night, we started with squatting. It built up a lot of energy and tension, which at some point almost became unbearable so I had to get up (not surprisingly way before Ric did). { not for the uninitiated }
Also, there was the feeling of a void inside me, like a black hollow pretty much all inside my torso, where there are connections missing.

Doing arm movement exercises, it was good to see the patience and reflecting time Ric took. No rushing, just taking information in and, when the time is right, going on. A very true and peaceful way of learning.

The biggest difference this time was in my grounded-ness. Initially, I felt very much like a leaf in the wind. I followed the slightest touch and perception of pressure or energy. That was my frame of mind (being open, giving in to everything, being the most sensitive I can be). At some point I almost got “sick” of it, the question arose “is this much movement really necessary” [the way I phrase the question now, looking back]. At that point “I” “decided” to firm up a little. With that came more stability. But that wasn’t quite it. There was also an awareness of not …

Well, it definitely was not unlimited in the last exercise. It was the “cross the arms go with the weight” (my very inept name for that exercise) and for quite some time everything was fine, except at some point the knee in my left leg (which I was bracing myself with) began to give way. Ric asked later if I noticed it (pressure?) building up, but me, nope … nothing. I guess there’s still a long, long way to go in terms of awareness J

When sitting quietly, I now quite frequently have a pulsing sensation in my legs and torso. It feels alive and wondrously strange. But also very comforting.
 

11 July 2006

Getting sick of my mind talking, of “me, me, me”. Even thought of beginning to speak of this writer in the third person. Anyway, today when pushing both hands, I noticed a change in balance. I had been feeling clumsy when doing the “Single Whip” turn that follows… But today, a couple of times, there seemed to be a natural flow in the pushing of hands which at / near the point of greatest extension seemed to lift my weight and provide impetus for the “Single whip” – the turn felt a lot lighter.

Also, today we did S.1 over and over. Especially during the “Brush Knees” I felt something like magnetic force around my hands and arms, and they seemed to be moving in pre-determined ways. An amazing feeling.
 

9 July 2006

This morning I did S.2 at my own pace and went very slowly. Amazing to feel some of the connectedness in my body. My hips, knees, feet, arms.
 

Tuesday, 4 July 2006

I completed S.1 with focus on posture. My outside life is getting quite stressful and tumultuous and I feel that I am approaching a turning point. Something will change.
 

Saturday, 1 July 2006

I woke up with tension running down the left side of my neck and stretching about halfway down my back. I thought there might be an association with the searing sensation I felt at work, a few weeks back, which ran down the left side of my spine as well.

 

JUN'06

Tuesday, 27 June 2006

First time I went for one hour – it was really good. I will make arrangements to do the full hour more often. Felt a lot of density and suppleness in my arms / wrists. Began practising S1 with correction of posture.

My appreciation of Tai Chi is growing – there are so many levels of perception, and I have barely begun to scratch the surface. What an art!

Bouncing off the ball of chi …
 

Monday, 26 June 2006

This morning before work I practised a little S1 and S2. At some point I just got fed up with the thinking and basically decided: so what if the sequence isn’t “right”, I’ll go with the flow. It may be all jumbled, but I trust it will sort itself out.
 

Sunday 25 June 2006

The struggle of the mind continues. There were brief moments, when there was silence in the mind and bliss, but then the mind was at it again – “Is this the right sequence?” – “Is my foot in the right place?” – “Damn, I should have shifted the weight a little later.” The monologue is ongoing and very, very tiring. A bit of a prison.
 

Saturday 24 June 2006

Today I was asked to be left wing for the whole form for the first time – that was scary! The body remembers, but the mind is really struggling for control.

We went for coffee after. I almost feel like what I am able to partake of is something very sacred. And all too often, my attitude seems a little too sloppy.
 

Tuesday, 20 June 2006

I finished the second round of S1, with focus on bow & arrow stance. In the last lesson I learnt that if ankle turns from closed knee, foot lands automatically in the right spot.
 

Wednesday, 14 June 2006

After class, I walked my tai chi shoes to work again. On the way back, I had to run for the tram. It was quite intriguing – while running my feet felt like my hands, or more specifically, the soles of my feet almost felt like my palms. The awareness was similar. I also imagined (?) that I was seeing the bones in my feet similar to an X-ray. They felt more flexible and responsive. It actually felt quite energetic and it was great to notice the change – before I cannot remember having such an awareness of my feet.
 

Tuesday, 13 June 2006

In the afternoon the pain in my right elbow got quite intense. It had been there on the weekend and I have known it longer than that, but it was quite intense today.

I guess it is similar to the pain in my knees at the moment.
 

Friday, 9 June 2006

Special training. Uncovering old injuries. Pulling up the shoulders when rolling the head back.

Testing movement in the shoulders.

Squatting. Head down first, hands flat on the ground. Then it is just rolling down.

When circling the arms in the top right quarter, the arm seemed to move of its own accord.

And the other injury was my weaker left hip. I kept spinning to the left. The leg felt weak but it is getting stronger. Towards the end of the lesson it felt more balanced and stronger.
 

Wednesday, 7 June 2006

The battery in my alarm lost power and I was 15-20 min late to class. It was beautiful joining the class. It felt like coming home and the form flowed (at least a little while).
 

Sunday, 4 June 2006

Again S1 – S3. The pain in my knees was less during S3. Also, I felt my hips shift forward during some of the moves during the form. And in some moves where I push out the hands, there seemed to be more of a connection running through the legs to the hands.

We then did bow & arrow stance practice and assessment for Single Whip. After a while we passed. Again, the hip felt more centred. It is now discovering the downward motion.
 

Saturday, 3. June 2006

During morning class we did S1-S3. Especially during S3 my knees, calves and lower thighs started to hurt. I could feel a lot of tension there and stiffness. I am becoming aware of a lot of resistance (in me).
 

2. June 2006

In the morning I just practised S1 & Single Whip. It was quite chilly in the park. The funny thing was that my palms were very warm, although my fingertips were cold.

On the way home from work my arms felt very light and loose again.

In the evening I had my first special / experimental lesson. It rained and my shoes got pretty soaked. Initially there seemed to be a gap behind me – there was so far I would be pushed back and then I’d pretty much fall over like a board. Ric showed me how to break fall. It also felt that at several points during the session, especially when he put his hand in front of the base of my throat, he was directing Chi / freeing Chi to flow. I felt myself breathe more deeply and it felt like the front of my body was opening up. Afterwards I was a lot more responsive.

"Neither assist nor resist." There was a lot of tension / fighting back in my feet and around my stomach and waist. Also, my lower back hurt a couple of times. But after the pain the exercise usually flowed a lot better.

Also, the whole balance thing seemed to shift. Initially it was like my centre of gravity was somewhere in my head or neck. Later it seemed to shift to my hips, where it belongs. I felt a lot more grounded and rooted.

Late in the evening, I felt sore on my left side. I slept very lightly that night and once woke up with that feeling of pain down my left side again (similar to what I had experienced at work a while ago). I held still, breathed deeply, and it passed again.

 

MAY'06

26 May 2006

No practice today. Dinh and I went to pick up her sister from the airport. The last couple of mornings, although I had around 8 hours sleep, I found it quite hard to get up. Today, after the airport, I walked 20mins from Central to work in my Kung Fu shoes. Initially I stomped quite heavily, but by the end my walk was a lot more flowing. I also used my heel in a different way – sometimes, when going up stairs, I would set down the heel first and roll the foot, rather than putting down the toes first.

Anyway, the most important event today: late afternoon, while I was sitting at my desk, I suddenly felt a sharp pain inside my body. I am not sure anymore if it started at the lower spine and worked its way up or started at the heart and spread. On the left side of the spine, pretty much from its base right up to the top of the shoulder, I felt intense pain stretching the whole length. It went through the heart as well and I was a little worried about taking deep breaths. But, although painful, it felt good (and didn't last too long – long enough to be really noticeable, but not dragging on forever). I believe something opened up inside and I look forward to the next training session to see how it feels.

I can still feel a certain tenderness / slight soreness around the heart and in my stomach.
 

24 May 2006

During practice I "did my own thing" … even when I wasn't leading. I was rushing along …. busy thinking …. The atmosphere at the training was nice though. Oh, and at the end I messed up the order (because I was thinking ahead and worried about when I'd have to leave). Too much fretting about.

21 May 2006

When doing left grasp bird’s tail, at some point, when the turn and stretch reached its greatest extension, my right foot started to move back by itself. So light!
 

20 May 2006

A little surprise: when doing S3, second set of Cloud Hands, it felt like I was being pulled back. My hip stayed about where it was, but my spine was straighter. The angle at which my torso was pulled back may have been about 10 – 15 degrees.
Cam recognised this experience when I told him later. I sometimes feel like what seems like hugely important steps and events to others, to me are a little “oh”, but nothing deeply dramatic. Maybe my deeply moving events are somewhere else / later.
 

19 May 2006

I practised S2 again, using the notes as guide. At some point it got ridiculous – just kept checking at the notes. They are taking me further away from the real thing. I begin to obsess about the “freeze-frame” images (left strike tiger, right strike tiger, etc) and rush through the connecting parts. Not enjoyable.

I learnt to walk when I was small without instruction book. I will learn Tai Chi without list of moves. Thinking I’d need a list is pandering to the brain, to my need for control, for my need to “know”. It is me basically being impatient with myself and “wanting to know, right now”. That feels very different to accepting myself and the situation as it is, enjoying the flow and the little discoveries along the way.
 

18 May 2006

 I practised S2 using the list of moves. It helped get a sense of mastery because I could connect with the next step, even though I didn’t remember it. I know it has to do with trusting the chi and neither assisting nor resisting, but at this level, it sometimes is just helpful to pander to my mind and give it peace.
 

17 May 2006

Section 2 & 3. Thinking about reading the names of the 108 Yang Family Styles. The more I read and expect, the less I am open to the flow. If I cling too much to “getting it right” and “knowing it”, I will become stale. Chi is a living, flowing energy, to submit to it I should “check my brain at the door”. Thinking and knowing will be useful to get to the first hurdle, but will have to be forgotten to progress into the truly living, flowing learning.
 

12 May 2006

 In the morning, while making toast and preparing breakfast, around the same time when I normally practice, I noticed myself doing a Tai Chi stance. Being “in a hurry” to get to work, I originally had planned to skip practice this morning. After observing myself, I thought “my body obviously wants its Tai Chi practice” …

 Over the years I have journeyed through Christianity, mysticism, social justice, international relations, humanistic psychology, meditation and various ways of exploring awareness . Yuan-Chi Tai Chi Chuan and Master Ric Lum have been the focus of my journey since November 2005, leading to more grounding, awareness and balance in my life. Whilst providing immediate benefits in my day-to-day life and health, I have caught glimpses of the eternal, ever-changing, un-changing life that I always knew existed. Yuan-Chi Tai Chi Chuan to me is a craft so rich and intricate it will provide years of learning, ever-deepening presence, and connection to the whole. The following notes show some steps in my journey with Yuan-Chi Tai Chi Chuan.

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