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Staying Balanced

posted 22 Jun 2018, 10:23 by WestDevon Tai Chi   [ updated 23 Jun 2018, 02:07 ]

Hosting two workshops within a month of each other is not something I would usually do and, after so many came along to Yuri’s in May, I was not sure how the numbers would be when Ben returned to Bratton Clovelly last Saturday. Once again though, people from the Lydford and Lifton classes did us proud and we had another great turnout on the day.

Ben’s teaching of Taiji is clear and precise. His knowledge and training of this art spans over 40 years and with those years comes wisdom of how to teach in a simple and understandable way for all levels of ability. After a few introductory words and warm up exercises Ben got us straight into doing the Taiji form, taking us through many repetitions of some of the first 15 moves. The one certainty with Ben is that he keeps you entertained with his interludes of theory and analogies throughout the day which help to break up the ‘being taught and learning’ aspect of Taiji. The two main areas he focused on was the body being ‘Song’, the Chinese word for relaxed, and ‘Gong’, the Chinese term referring to any skill which is developed over time through hard work. He explained there were six stages of getting into ‘Song’ 

1.    Head up

2.    Shoulders down

3.    Chest empty

4.    Relax inside, stomach full

5.    Sink hips

6.    Listen behind

From my own experience and practice I appreciate how challenging the ‘listening behind’ can be. The way Ben helped us through getting to that place was only the second time I had heard him say it. The first mention of it had certainly not sunk in but on this occasion, it went in deeper and when I am able to bring my mind there, away from external distractions, it is what I can only describe as ‘moments of bliss’ of being in the now; a oneness of mind, body and spirit.

He went on to help us understand that accumulating ‘Gong’ means acquiring the motor skills, strength and balance to perform Taiji and there are many stages of development. Further to this is the mental discipline or ‘Gong’ of the mind which, when developed, helps the mind and spirit to maintain balance and calmness, helping us make the right decisions in life and keeping us on our true path.

We had plenty to take in through watching and listening but as I always say to everyone it is impossible to absorb it all but slowly you lay the foundations and build up more of an understanding of the nature of learning Taiji. When practising in pairs there was lots of cheerful banter and fun, clearly a good sign that everyone was enjoying the process of learning! As always, the feedback has been brilliant and we look forward to Ben returning on 4th November.

When I held my first class at Bratton Clovelly I had no expectations as to where I was going with it or even if it would keep going. Moving on 3 years, West Devon Tai Chi is now well established in Bratton Clovelly, Lydford and Lifton with regular classes and workshops throughout the year. This has been a big step forward in my Taiji journey as well as a tremendous learning curve. It is one I have come to embrace though and to see everyone enjoying the learning of Taiji and being’ in the moment’ is wonderful. This week at Lifton they got to six moves and when we did the sequence  together everyone applauded each other. It was a joy to be part of their sense of achievement. 

Thank you all for your continuous support of the classes and workshops and special thanks to my dear friend, Jo, who gently steps forward to guide and help so many others at Lydford and Lifton.

Summer Solstice blessings dear friends and may Taiji help guide you on your way

Mandy-Instructor