A lovely Tai Chi Story

Bill Douglas, the Founder of World Tai Chi & Qigong Day, shared some of his thoughts on learning tai chi that I wanted to pass on to all of you. I think it is just so well put and inspiring. Enjoy.
When we first come to tai chi class, we often have a preconceived notion of what the teacher’s supposed to teach us or the class is supposed to be like. We may have seen someone doing some beautiful, graceful tai chi form or qigong form on the internet or TV, and we want to do what they did because it looks beautiful.
But, when we start the class and the teacher begins teaching us the breathing work, the meditation, the stances, the posture, etc. so that we can have the building blocks to build that beautiful form we saw … within ourselves we get anxious and urgent. In our minds we may be saying “This isn’t what I want, I want to get to the other stuff, the important stuff!”
When you go into that mode, you no longer hear, or enjoy anything the teacher is teaching you. You have brought the urgency of the world into the class with you. Take a breath, and let go. Let go of every one of your 50 trillion cells. Let your mind and heart ungrip and let go of their urgency.
There is no “perfect place” you will get to by hurrying up. What you are asking your teacher to do is to teach you astrophysics without first learning simple math. Its like you’re saying to the teacher, “Show me the astrophysics stuff, but skip the number and addition stuff. Just get right to the good stuff.”
I’m not pointing fingers at you, because I did this too, I dropped out of tai chi several times, and changed teachers, until finally realizing that my original teacher was great, and it was my own urgency that was causing me to feel unsettled, not her classes.
We live in an age of speed and short attention span entertainment. We give each show about 10 seconds of attention before flipping the channel, and we zoom from class to class, seminar to seminar, book to book, barely skimming the information before moving on.
Tai Chi and Qigong meditation are the opposite of that ‘constantly rushed’ way of life. When you begin it, it will often make you feel anxious to slow down at first, but when you hang in there, you look back a year or two later and are so glad you did.
Remember to breathe, and to let go of expectations.
I always tell my students to come to class for only 3 reasons:
1) To breathe
2) To loosen up
3) To play
Whatever goals you have for tai chi, improving balance, breathing, immune system, sports performance, well-being, whatever … just let go of that goal.
There is only one reason to do Tai Chi and Qigong … because it is FUN to do. It feels goooood to slow down, and to feel the pleasure sensations of the body breathing, loosening, and being massaged by effortless motion.
All the myriad benefits are just gravy. They will come … just let go of your grip on them … breathe … loosen … have some fun … and all the benefits will come.
I have classes where people come to have fun, and they keep coming, and their tai chi gets better, their sleep improves, their health improves, their sports performance improves … and then I have classes where new students come with the idea that I am going to “hurry up and get them to relax and fix all their problems in a one hour class.”  Guess what, they don’t get fixed in one hour, and they change the channel by rushing off to some other class thinking that will fix them in one hour.
When you go to class, let the teacher’s teaching wash over you like a form of entertainment. Lighten up on the class and the teacher, and on yourself. You’ll have fun, you’ll breathe, and you’ll loosen, and months from now you’ll look back and be so glad that you lightened up and had some fun as your life continues to expand and change in your tai chi and qigong journey.
- Bill Douglas

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