Observation & Insights

Why practice T’ai Chi?

There are perhaps as many reasons to practice T’ai Chi Ch’uan as there are practitioners, and one’s reason often changes over time.

I started Tai Chi because I loved what I saw in other people’s performance of the Tai Chi form. Fluidity, grace, relaxation. It looked like dance.

The difficulty of learning the moves is what kept me going to class. Easy as it looked when I watched others, the ability to carry my weight on one foot, turn, move my arms, and remember what came next made me laugh one minute and gnash my teeth the next. I realized that if I was to learn to do this, I had to let go of the idea that I would be able to do it perfectly anytime soon! I am still practicing letting go of that idea!

Eventually I realized that I practice Tai Chi because it has lessons for other parts of my life. I learned to breathe from my tantien when I was stressed out, to let other people’s snipes or unwitting rudeness brush past me, to “roll back” negative self talk to neutralize its effects.

Now I practice Tai Chi because of all of the reasons I’ve stated, as well as some others. Tai Chi means I don’t need a flu shot in the winter. It keeps my Reynauds’ Syndrome at bay, lets me sleep more soundly, reminds me not to overstep social boundaries. And it definitely makes me less likely to slip on the ice of this Iowa winter, and to fall softer when I do!

I still consider myself a beginner in this practice, and hopefully I’ll spend many more years as such…but when I start teaching a new class of true novices, I get excited to think of what treasures are in store for them. All it takes is practice!