Sharon Expounds

Peking Noodles...?

Sharon Smith

My first experience of Tai Chi was about 17 years ago through a community college in Sydney’s deep west. Life intervened and I didn’t continue with it – but it had awakened a curiosity.
A friend told me about Ric’s class about 2 years ago. Ric is a very precise teacher, which my joints, alignment and posture have all benefited from. Ric is also concerned with more than the outer ‘dance’ aspects of Tai Chi – which I appreciate.
The shifts, for me, have been more than physical. Beyond the dance, I have learned about myself.


*Sent*: Monday, December 08, 2008 10:49 AM
Subject:  Teaching Westerners?

…and, btw, one of the nice (and, at times, drives-me-potty) things about learning Tai Chi as a Westerner is learning a different way of learning…
*Sent*: Saturday, May 03, 2008 11:02 AM
Subject: yak

I was having fun playing in the “spaces” between styles there is more “movement” in them than I had noticed before, LOADS in fact and a lot of “force”/”springiness ”

*Sent*: Tuesday, January 22, 2008 10:16 AM
Subject: Toe Curlings

Notes from this morning’s class;
* my right hip really really doesn’t like Bow Arrow at the moment – when it’s the one taking weight – and especially not when the move is setting up the left foot forward
* when I manage to uncurl my toes (!), there is a springy-ness underfoot – the ground feels almost elastic, like a trampoline
* at first the sensation was like the sole of my foot disappeared and there was only the ground and then it felt as if I had snow-shoes on – like my feet extended beyond their physical size by about 6-8 inches all around each one (still quite springy as above)
* 1/2 way below my navel I was aware of an expansion – like the front of my pelvis was opening up – a little like a flower blossoming, or a ripple in it’s first forming – and then of a band linking the inside of my left hip joint to the inside of the right

*Sent*: Friday, May 18, 2007 12:49 PM
Subject: “aha” addendum

And it was&is bigger than this – I was&am the palms leaves lifting in the breeze and the red of the bushes along the road – and they were&are also me…
I was&am the breath and heartbeat…
And still it was&is more than that…
It is&was quietly powerful…
It is&was expansive and expanding…

And today I noticed that there is something in being fully present /thoughtlessness (awareness) that allows one to continue in the awareness of all of that – and the chatter in our heads is the illusion that clouds that awareness and shuts the door on it…

The ‘art’ is to be in that awareness more constantly (perhaps even while I am thinking…  (o;  )

*Sent*: Thursday, 17 May 2007 12:21 PM
Subject: “aha” moments

It’s funny the sensations that happen when something flips from head knowing to Knowing, innit?

This morning driving to work (and listening once again to Voices of Gaia) it occurred to me that there is no need for us to ‘step into’ elements (earth, air etc) ‘cos we *are* them already – in very real and tangible ways – we are earth, we are air etc….
And then I felt dizzy and it was like the light went brighter (as happens occasionally during class) – colours were more vivid and a man walking down the footpath felt like a ripple that is me – and I am the same ripple that is him… and the traffic felt more like I knew what it was going to and when people were about to put their indicators on to change lanes etc. I felt like I was the same as the road…. everything felt more obvious and fluid… and I felt vast…

*Sent*: Wednesday, May 16, 2007 11:01 AM
Subject: *a few more things*

What struck me was that the ‘trick’ is to stay solid and connected in a way that is lighter than air – to keep root while having lighter than feather touch/responding… and then it ripples out… wow…

*Sent*: Thursday, May 10, 2007 6:08 AM
Subject: *{ Surrender? }*

“Birds make great sky-circles
of their freedom.
How do they learn it?
They fall and falling,
they’re given wings”

Now THAT?S my experience of surrender?

*Sent*: Thursday, May 10, 2007 6:03 AM
Subject: *Introspection+*

AND I’d love to do more on Tuesday;
* what you were doing with Gregor when I arrived (and what I’ve watched you do with Holly)
* “follow your …” (that was amazing)

*Sent*: Wednesday, May 09, 2007 8:54 PM
Subject: *Introspection*

For me, this journey is about; exploring/experiencing more the deeper parts of Tai Chi the parts beyond the “dance” ? the bits that the surrender stuff hints at exploring/experiencing what Tai Chi has to show/teach me about my “Self” as well as my “self” exploring/experiencing the healing/balancing that is possible ? (healing the world begins with healing yourself   (o:   ) incorporating those lessons/experiences into my everyday interactions with people and places (years ago I once prayed “make my life a prayer”  it’s still relevant) to make it part of my walking and breathing to be in more constant awareness of Divine/God/Spirit

Looking inwards is a part of looking outwards?
These are the things which come to my gut when I contemplate “stepping up” they’re what I understand it to be

*Sent*: Tuesday, May 08, 2007 5:40 PM
Subject: *a few things*

Some observations from this morning;

* WOW! that was really really different! I really really enjoyed that!  :oD
* I was able to follow my left hand more easily and consistently (and with no thoughts rattling through my head other than ‘ha! how about that!’!) than my right * my attention wandered more with my right hand and I needed to keep refocusing/drawing myself back from chatter in my brain more often – I could hold it for a few repetitions and then I’d wander again…
* my hands know what to do all on their own!
* my feet followed my hands all on their own!
* my weight felt lighter on my feet – a bit like I was floating slightly
* when I left my house my right heel/instep was sore where it’s been paining for a while – it stopped hurting all through class and it is still not sore.
* .. Also, on this day , I am usually dragging myself around trying to keep up with what I need to do with my day – today was quite busy – we’re interviewing for a position – and my energy was consistent and available…
* I mentioned the ‘jittery’ sensation to you this morning – it’s why I try not to drink coffee anymore…. but not this sensation – it was more like being tickled ? it was fun/a giggle… your choice of ‘quickening’ this morning felt like the exact word for it!

*Sent*: Wednesday, April 11, 2007 7:17 PM
Subject: *Surrender?*

I’ve been wanting to tell you about an experience from the Saturday before last  I still don’t have the words to describe it, though, here’s the best I have;
I learned that there is a universe of difference between “letting go” and “surrender?”
I spent most of class attempting to let go of stuff that was happening for me that was distracting and distressing? It didn?t work ? it kept flashing back into my head ? I was chasing my tail and it was taking a lot of effort?
Then somewhere I gave up and just let it happen ? it felt like I had fallen over a big hole, but I wasn’t falling, more like floating, there was nothing around me but space ? it all washed over and around me like a wave and grabbed my breath for a few moments?
And then it was gone and I was present again ? and the struggle with it was gone?

*Sent*: Monday, March 12, 2007 2:32 PM
Subject: *Random Thoughts*

Sore feet?About 2 months ago I bought a new pair of sandals ‘cos my other ones (after two years) are finally wearing out.  Since I bought them, I had worn them twice ‘cos they didn’t quite fit and turned out to be very uncomfortable to walk in (they were probably a little too small/tight, and pushed my feet back out of them over the heel)…
Yesterday I put them on again and they fit perfectly – and were actually a teeny bit too big across the top… I walked around Hurstville in them with some friends and they were still comfortable… so it appears that my feet have changed shape!

I drove to Griffith and back on Thursday and Friday – my pelvis and lower back recovered much more quickly than usual and were all fine by Saturday morning (it’s previously taken a week or two plus a trip to the osteopath).  My right shoulder/neck was fine by Saturday afternoon…  YAY!

*Sent*: Monday, February 26, 2007 12:58 PM
Subject: *More Randomness*

Last Tuesday, when we were doing the form together (in the early part while we were facing west), I could feel an ‘urge’ to go faster.   The sensation is a little hard to explain. It wasn’t physical, like being pushed, and it wasn’t like a mental anxiousness or anything like that. It was like being part of a current – but not a physical sensation. So I just kept up with it

On Saturday I had an ‘AHA!’ moment… I started to have a stronger sense that all the things in my last random email to you ARE, in fact, connected!
And then, while we were doing “Wild Horse Parts Mane” – my head began to feel a lot like those scenes in movies where there are loads of 1 second flashes of scenes from earlier and things then either fall apart or make sense…and then I *knew* that they ARE all connected/the same thing…

*Sent*: Saturday, February 24, 2007 8:31 AM
Subject: *Random things+*

A few weeks ago, you indicated that “Earth flows into Air” they’re connected and not separate. Since then I’ve been exploring an awareness that I feel very comfortable in “Earth” and in “Water”, and even in “Ether”.

*Sent*: Friday, February 23, 2007 9:54 AM
Subject: *Random things*

Ø      Lately when you’ve said to me something like “very good!” or “now you’re seeing it” (during class), I’ve been simultaneously contemplating this quote;
“There is the thought, and then there is the knowing of the thought. And the difference between being aware of the thought and just thinking is immense. It’s enormous. Normally we are so identified with our thoughts and emotions, that we are them. We are the happiness, we are the anger, we are the fear. We have to learn to step back and know our thoughts and emotions are just thoughts and emotions. They’re just emotional states.
They’re not solid, they’re transparent. One has to know that and then not identify with the knower. One has to know that the knower is not somebody. Instead of finding some solid little eternal entity, which is “I”, we get back to this vast spacious mind which is interconnected with all living beings. In this space you have to ask, where is the “I”, and where is the “other”.  As long as we are in the realm of duality, there is “I” and “other”.?

Ø      {We experience confusion when we move from being unconscious to consciousness}

Ø      I am beginning to notice more often that there are lots of layers in each posture/progression. And that it’s hard to see them all at once ? I can only concentrate on one part at a time ? when I attempt to shift my awareness to more, I can’t see any of them.

*Sent*: Friday, December 15, 2006 10:36 AM
Subject: *Masters*

“Until you can bring forth a flower,
Breathe life into that which is dead,
Summon or subdue the elements,
Transport yourself through time and space,
And heal with a single thought,
a single touch,
Can you call yourselves Masters?

And long before you achieve these things,
Titles shall become meaningless to you,
and you will come to understand.”

*Sent*: Thursday, June 29, 2006 10:04 AM
Subject: *more stories*

This morning someone ‘cut me off’ and I got angry…my head rattled on with lots of chatter about how what they did was stupid and that they were stupid and how some people need to learn to pay attention when they’re driving – blah blah blah….

After a few moments of this, I noticed something somewhere go ‘anger ? fire energy’ and my body go ‘oh!’ and then it left… I could feel the energy of the emotion – a bit like a vapour – leaving my muscles and skin – I hadn’t realised how tense my muscles had been while I was busy being angry…and then I felt good about the world again…and then I understood! – how my mind can trap energy by holding on to it/blocking it’s movement…

So what comes first – the thought or the energy?  I think – energy is constantly moving and balancing, and our thoughts interfere with that free-flow… we can just notice it and let it move through or we hold it/focus on it which blocks it and then we feel that energy blockage in our bodies (as tension, or elation, or whatever…)

*Sent*: Sunday, June 25, 2006 8:15 PM
Subject: *Some stories*

I?ve had a bit of a radical turn-around in my diet for the last 4-5 weeks and I’m eating MUCH better than I have for a very long time? the upshot of that is that I’ve felt less claggy and lethargic and MUCH more interested in moving (goodness knows I could hardly have moved much less!)?the upshot of THAT is that I’ve been walking more than I have for an equally long time AND I’ve even been enjoying it! (rather than dragging myself to and from the car and then plopping myself down somewhere to await the next trip to the car?.bleuch..). As I’ve been walking, I’ve been noticing that my knees really don’t like my boots very much (they have a small heel ? about 1½ inches?) ? time to get some new winter shoes! I?ve also noticed that I have a tendency to roll my right ankle out and my left ankle in when I walk ? I notice my weight on the inside of my left foot and the outside of my right?

Last Friday I was visiting my brother. Rather than catch the bus home as I normally would, I decided to walk home (which, the way I walk, took me an hour). It was late and dark (funny that, being night and all!) and it was raining and a little chilly (I was rugged up and felt cool but not chilled)? about 1/3 of the way home I crossed a road. Half way across my right foot found the edge of a small hole in the tar and my ankle rolled. A few VERY quick steps and a teeny bit of panic later I was on the other side of the road and still upright! AMAZING! But it HURT!  I’d twisted and jarred my right ankle, knee and hip as well as my back. I must’ve done some pretty spectacular acrobatics! A few minutes later the pain subsided and I was able to continue walking? a few minutes after that, I felt no discomfort at all. I got up yesterday morning and felt no after-effects. I walked to catch the bus and then
walked the length of Glebe Point Road to class – still nothing noticeable. About ½ way through class, all the joints began to ache – just a little – as well as the outside of my right calf and especially my hip and lower back. Today it’s been my lower thoracic (on the right) and the outer part of my ankle (where it rolled). On the walk home from the station tonight (about 30 minutes) the inside of the arch on my right foot was really sore _ I had to stop a couple of times, it hurt so much_ but it stopped completely about 5 minutes from home and was replaced by a dull ache in the soft part of the inside of my foot between my heel and ankle. As I sit and type this, it?s my hip and back.
I figure the Tai Chi has pushed the injury out so now I’m feeling it! My poor right side_ always in the wars- and my knee was doing so well and everything. It’s not excruciating now, just a very dull ache? it’ll probably pass in a day or so – it *was* a bit’ve a tumble in the cold?

I was sitting on the train coming home from work tonight humming a song I’ve had rattling around in my brain all day (Afterglow by INXS – I think it’s very pretty) – you know how that happens when it’s the last one you hear?  Sometimes, when that happens and I have some down-time (like sitting on a train) I shut my eyes and go with it and feel myself moving with the song (even though I’m not actually physically moving )?
this one feels swirly- a crescendo swirls out and I held my arms out and then it swirls back in and I found myself in a Tai Chi stance ? HA! that made me giggle.

*Sent*: Saturday, June 03, 2006 4:23 PM
Subject: *Yay*!

Remember that I had complained that my right knee had begun to play up again (old problem), that I was having problems with stairs again and that it really really didn’t like the dip bit at the (“Snake Creeps”) thing? It was a “watch out or you’ll break it” kind’ve pain?
I’ve been practising that move for a few weeks to try and find the way of doing it that doesn’t produce pain and trying to get habitual with my toe/knee alignment, but not much had changed – it still hurt regardless of how I was doing it (unless I held on to something and went really slowly!).  I’ve been very worried that I’d tear something before it righted?

Anyway, today when we pushed you, something in my right knee really really “went” and it really really hurt – but it was not a move that usually hurts – I can walk forward without any bother, usually? It was as I stepped up and it threw me a bit so that when we were in contact my whole body felt out of whack ? like I might lose balance and collapse – and the contact didn’t feel comfortable?

This afternoon while I was waiting for a client to change, I did the move again – NO PAIN! And I was using different muscles (which don’t have any strength in them at all so that was a bit tricky!!)? PHEW!
I’ve done it a few more times since and my knee feels a bit tired, but there’s still no pain in the joint-Yay!

*Sent*: Thursday, December 01, 2005 2:27 PM
*/You’ll remember the bit where I was having trouble with which way…etc….You’d showed us (again!) and I tried it again… and again… after a few times, something shifted – it was HUGE.
The sequence flowed ‘obviously’ at last (!) and it was suddenly clear and then – ‘it’ began at ‘hold the ball’ and built until the release at the end of the ‘move’.
It was like being in a vortex – with the energy of it building as I went further through the sequence and my body felt swept along with it. The first was VERY powerful and I felt dizzy and almost knocked off my feet by it.
I could feel it rushing through and around my body – like being part of a building whirlwind…

Miranda noticed my reaction and stood near the release point and said she wanted to watch – I was worried that she’d end up getting the full force of whatever the build-up was – I told her that I didn’t want her to stand there!
The next time through was not as dramatic, but this time I also had a rush of heat (and, no, I am still NOT menopausal!) and needed to take off my jumper…

Eventually – after a few more repetitions – the strength of it settled down to gentle but it was still there and I still have an awareness that there’s potential there for it to be huge (I can feel it even just sitting here typing about it!)…

*Sent:* Sunday, June 12, 2005 11:23 AM
*Subject:* RE: last Friday?s experience
I enjoyed the private class last Friday. I came away thinking ‘THAT’S IT!’ I value working with this ‘angle’ of Tai Chi Chuan. I’ve been telling people that part of my doing Tai Chi Chuan with you is because you (Ric) actually connect with the ‘energy’ part of it – it’s what attracts me to your classes more than anything… So there were a few interesting bits…
When I was following you there was an area at the top where I got stuck. My body seemed quite happy to just do what it needed to do and then when we got to that bit, it couldn’t work out which way to go…Anyway, the sensation was different to the one I had previously. Before, the sensation was like I was pushing against a resistance, but that resistance was more like putting the same ends of two magnets together.
This time it was more physical/anatomical – like the joint had reached its limits.
Then there was the balloon thing. (You enclosed my right wrist softly with the insides of your fingers; and then my arm began to rise on its own). I didn’t know what was happening, just that I was going with it.
And I felt like that I could be a balloon – that if I lifted my feet off the floor that I’d float. (I was actually about to lift my feet off the floor when we stopped – the sensation was that ‘real’). Since then, I’ve become fascinated by Miranda’s comment at that moment; ‘You LOOK like you could be a balloon!’ – so it wasn’t just my experience!
I don’t have too many reference points to hang this experience on – just that it’s an ‘energy thing’.
I’m resisting the urge to analyse it too much – just to experience it.

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