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Practice as a path

Updated: Mar 20, 2021

Although we had hoped to resume in-person classes this fall, or at least outdoor practice sessions, between COVID and the smoke, neither are happening. For a number of reasons, we are not currently offering online classes.

Instead there is a very valuable lesson to be learned now.

Over the years I have enjoyed teaching Tai Chi to hundreds of students. Some came to class once a week and practiced once or twice on their own in between lessons. Within about three weeks, few of them were able to keep up. It is doubtful that they gained much benefit. Even the most talented among them seemed to remain perpetual novices.

Other students grasped the meaning of a practice as something one does consistently every day. Their progress over time is inspiring.

When I first began to learn Tai Chi, I was not remotely interested in a lifetime practice – I just wanted to learn a martial art and move on to the next interesting thing. Were it not for the encouragement of my peers, a maddening perfectionist streak, and physical pain from injuries and illness that was eased by Tai Chi, I would never have persevered.

Over time my daily practice has evolved from, at best, eight minutes each morning to over an hour. Now, I marvel at how much better I feel when I practice for an hour each morning and ten minutes each evening. I won’t become a great martial artist, but I feel good, relaxed and happy with life, and free to enjoy good health and the people I am with.

For many of us, the most important and most difficult lesson to learn is the art of practicing every day. Whether or not you are also taking a formal class, progress will inevitably follow.

While a group can offer support and encouragement, nobody else can do that for us.

Throughout the pandemic, we have held a daily online group practice on Zoom, every morning from 7:30 until about 8. If you are one who does much better with the camaraderie and encouragement of a group, please join us. It’s free. Nobody is watching you, waiting to criticize. You can come on whichever days suit you. No instruction is given, so you won’t fall behind if some days you cannot come. It is just friendly, relaxing quiet practice lead by our local teachers. Email for a link.

It is a wonderful chance to learn the most important and difficult lesson about Tai Chi – relaxing into a consistent daily practice.

For those who have learned some or all of the form and would like a review, we also have recorded a review of the entire Tai Chi form and posted it to Vimeo. Contact us for the link.

The Tai Chi Foundation, of which we are members, also offers online classes, some suitable for beginners, and others for more advanced students. These are taught by some of our best teachers. Many are free. For a comprehensive list of current offerings go here.

Most importantly, allow yourself the time and space to enjoy a regular morning and evening practice – a chance to let go of the cares and uncertainty of our present time and enter the Tao – the timeless flow of life.

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