T’ai Chi Chih
Joy Through Movement
by Donna M. Aldous
The peoples of the crowded Orient generally know the feeling of serenity in the midst of activity. It is not by refraining from action that we achieve it, but by maintaining a firm, unchanging centre in the midst of disturbance. In that traffic jam, when your plane is delayed: you know the daily disturbances we meet.
When we do the measured movements of T’ai Chi Chih (Knowledge of the Supreme Ultimate), while focusing our concentration on the spot two inches below the navel, we feel the surge of Vital Force and experience a pleasant tingling—yet, when we are quiet again, that centre in the solar plexus is filled with power and we feel at rest. This serenity should spill over into our everyday lives, making possible a calm and joyous interior even during the most hectic times.
What are the great secrets of life? Perhaps there are a few of them. Probably none is more important than the knowledge of how to circulate and balance the Intrinsic Energy, the Vital Force of the body, known as “Chi” in Chinese. The rewards in good health, wisdom, serenity, and longevity are great for the one who learns the ancient principles and applies them in a modern way. So little of such arts is known in the West, but now, stimulated by the growth of meditation practice and the intense interest in acupuncture, people have begun to turn to ancient Chinese T’ai Chi Ch’an, Hatha Yoga, and other forms for self-culture.
Justin Stone is a former T’ai Chi Ch’an instructor and as such he knew that it takes many months of hard work to learn the 108 movements. Once learned, it takes at least 12 feet of space in which to practise. Older people have some difficulty executing the movements, as well as a problem in memorizing the long sequence. And, finally, T’ai Chi Ch’uan, wonderful as it is, cannot be learned from a book or tape, a personal instructor is absolutely necessary.
In contrast, T’ai Chi Chih can easily be learned from Justin’s phototext book or CD. The movements are so gentle, and take so little coordination, that people of any age can easily do them. Properly done, the result should be a flow of energy and a feeling of well-being somewhat like the aftermath of an internal bath. We tend to wake up, to feel good and more alive. In this respect, T’ai Chi Chih is like a valuable meditation.
As Carmen Brocklehurst writes: “We are very logical and intellectual in the West. But when we try to fit T’ai Chi Chih into a neat definition, or hold on to our own personal ideas about it, we miss its essence. Trying to categorize it is like three blind men describing an elephant while each holds on to a different part of it. T’ai Chi Chih is at once personal and impersonal, physical and ethereal. It is not an exercise, and yet it is the best exercise you can do.
T’ai Chi Chih consists of 19 gentle, graceful movements and one pose that can be done by almost anyone. Working with the building blocks of the universe—yin and yang, which when combined become the Tao, the essence of all life—Justin created this new form of movement.
We have a tendency to separate our mind, body, and emotions. But the true demonstration of spiritual growth is integrating these three elements and then bringing them to bear in a situation. How do we develop a foundation for this integration and wholeness? The Key is T’ai Chi Chih, through which we gain the balance that allows us to see clearly and to act with integrity. Up until this time we have seen through a glass, darkly. Clarity allows us to experience the essential beauty of life.
Sister Viola Bens taught me T’ai Chi Chih in 2000. I found the practise helped my balance and posture immensely right from the start. I felt happier being in the moment and just letting T’ai Chi Chih do T’ai Chi Chih. And it did carry over into my everyday activities. As a realtor, it was important to let things go, not to take things personally and to know that everything would work out. I found renewed joy in my family and nature. Now retired, it is even more important for me to see that life is worth living and I give the credit to my daily TCC practise.
I have observed during my 10 years of teaching that although my students come to class tired and stressed, they leave with renewed physical and mental energy. Specific benefits vary with each person but the benefits are usually precisely what each individual needs.
Donna M. Aldous is an accredited T’ai Chi Chih teacher since 2002. She lives in Meadow Lake, SK, and travels to teach T’ai Chi Chih, which is her passion. For information and to register for the upcoming workshop August 14 call (306) 236-7113 and also see the display ad on page 15 of the 16.2 July/August
issue of the WHOLifE Journal.