Gloria dean teaching WuDang Tai Chi Chuan
I heard Gloria’s voice, and instantly knew she was restraining amusement, not quite managing to sound like a chiding schoolmistress “did you just use a rude word?” the offending student, towering over her meekly replied that he had but “as it was in Portuguese I did not think you would notice” very gentle admonishment delivered, it was back to training for all amidst quiet laughter.
What our unfortunate miscreant was expressing (not quite as privately as he hoped) was his understandable frustration at not achieving perfection in a movement of the form, its not that he lacks talent, or indeed effort and concentration, just that Tai Chi is like that, your intellectual grasp of a technique is only part of the journey. If you have been practising Tai Chi for any length of time you will have experienced similar frustration (if not apply for saint hood it will surely be granted) of course you may well have been more successful at keeping it to yourself.
Sometimes it seems as though ones practice is defined by difficulty and frustration, sometimes all goes well. As teachers we are accustomed to judging the level of temporary discouragement our students experience, before intervening in some beneficial manner. We are also often surprised to observe the form of expression such sentiment takes, pulling faces, stamping feet, or throwing things are more obvious expressions of self recrimination and dissatisfaction, thankfully less common than a muttered expletive but very disturbing for fellow students.
Wherever you may be in your personal study, soaring the heights of new understanding, or stranded in the doldrums of “Why can’t I get this” contain your frustration, be cool. There is in Daoism, a tradition that laughter is often the best response to the efforts of man to transcend his own nature.
Focus your Yi, (your intention) upon the simple act of practice, keep your Hsin (Heart/mind) concentrated gently upon your goal, and continue along your path with tranquillity.
Share your thoughts amidst some laughter after class; you may be surprised at how many share your feelings, and perhaps, the door will open a touch wider.
Keith has studied the Chinese Internal arts for over 40 years. He lives in England and Portugal with artist, designer and writer Gloria Dean and teaches in Portugal and the UK.