Being Reacquainted With a Very Old, Very Good Friend


I love Tai Chi. For some time it’s been very much in the background of life (although never completely gone), and recently it has come back into my sphere of activity, and what a lovely thing it is.

I often find myself just going through the moves of the short form in my mind, as if they were a dance. It relaxes me in times and places where to start ‘waving hands in the clouds’ might be frowned upon. Its a habit I’ve had for a long time and just one of those little ways that gets me through the day.

Way back when I was first learning Tai Chi it was a way of doing my drill, hard-wiring the moves into my brain as I travelled on the bus or sat with glazed eyes in front of a boring tv program. Today the tv in my head lets me watch those graceful moves and absorb the peace and calm they bring, whether in real life or in imagination.

I first started Tai Chi back in Glasgow in 1997. My teacher was Victoria Cunninghame who in turn was instructed in the particular form, Infinite Tai Chi, by its creator, Jason Chan. Jason is from Hong Kong and is one of  the best advertisements for the health benefits of Infinite Tai Chi. As I recall, he formulated the form from his own traditional family form, adding his own twist. It has a flowing beauty as much of it is based on circles and circular movements.

I studied with Victoria intensely for two years. During that time I was also lucky enough to attend many seminars given by Jason at the Salisbury Centre in Edinburgh – a place I love and if I ever won the lottery I would set up a similar place here in Adelaide. We knew I was leaving to come to Australia and while Victoria sought to teach me everything she knew, in addition Jason gave me not only his blessing to teach what I had learned here in Australia, but also his teacher training videos so I could further my learning and spread the benefits.

Not long after I got to Australia I was presented with an  opportunity to teach Chi Kung – the energy work associated with Tai Chi – at the WEA here in Adelaide. I did it and I loved it – it was great  having a class of lovely people to share it all with. When that contract was finished I was approached by an organisation that helps people with intellectual disability to come and teach them, to see if it would help. I knew it would, but having not long come to the country and needing to attend to my day job I became doubtful of whether I could do it, and I refused the opportunity. That’s something I do regret, but who’s to know what the right thing was. I had to make a choice.

I kept up my practice, at times more than others, and for the past couple of years it has definitely been in the background as I adjusted to many changes in my life (all good). As I say, it has never left me though. By my desk at work I have my favourite translation of the Tao Te Ching – the Stephen Mitchell one – and I open it on a daily basis for its wisdom. It’s a little book – 81 stanzas of wisdom and humour – but none the less valuable for its brevity.

And now Tai Chi is back in my life almost full force and I have the hankering to be sharing its beauty and benefits with others. I’m not sure how that will  manifest but in the spirit of wu wei I shall wait and observe and be ready to act when the time is right. In the meantime I’m enjoying the practice and being thoroughly reacquainted with a very old, very good friend.

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