Continuing Recovery: Tai Ji

Posted by Jeanne Barrett on February 13, 2010 in Uncategorized

Nearly year has passed since the injury that changed my life by slowing me to a snail’s pace.  Pain has been a frequent and relentless teacher, requiring me to acknowledge fear and limitation (as well as fear of limitation) in a new manner. Differentiating between pain as a signal to stop and pain as a necessary transition toward strength has become a continuously evolving skill.  Pace and timing take on different complexities and subtleties for a constitutionally speedy person like myself who must embrace the requirements of long-term recovery.  Linear progress is an illusion of end-gaining; only the spiraling nature of learning and unlearning, of allowing a balance of determination and acceptance, activity and rest, has yielded demonstrable progress.

This morning, I walked a half mile down very steep hills with constant inhibition of narrowing and shortening myself, as well as refusal to become impatient and irritated by my glacial pace, to a Tai Ji class.  Although I studied Tai Ji many years ago, I entered the studio as a mere beginner, with a quiet unknowing, and an eagerness to allow the form to do itself.  Our teacher, Derryl Willis, created a welcoming and serene environment, as well as offering clear direction, skilled teaching, and a deeply compassionate attitude.

Tai Ji has myriad possibilities for application of Alexander principles, of course.  Dynamic non-interference, elastic response to gravity, invisibility of effort, and moving from intention and attention are some components of this ancient and ageless learning.

At my current condition of self, Tai Ji is an ideal exploration.  I was deeply pleased that I could physically manage a 75 minute class with relative ease.  The form did itself, and I willingly followed.  When my knee signaled for a rest, I rested.  A sense of the ground as support increased and deepened as fear of pain quieted.  My breath moved my limbs and stillness informed motion.  The challenge of allowing was continuous but not defeating, with the skilled guidance of our teacher.

Metaphors for healing abound, and the story continues!