Last evening we did a set of tai chi outdoors in their (STTCS) yard. It was wonderful! The sun was still shining through the pine trees, birds were singing, neighborhood children were playing joyfully, people were barbecuing for dinner. I felt an inner smile bubbling up all by itself just from being outdoors with a group of people doing tai chi. It was as if my body was breathing...exchanging all this beauty with every move and every in and out breath.
We're always being told in class how grim we all look while practicing, and to practice smiling during tai chi. Now I know the difference of feeling a natural smile from the core of my being v.s. faking one for the instructor's sake.
I was talking about my outdoor set experience briefly with one of the set leaders. She said "You're really going to get this, and go far with it. Many people have been coming here for 10+ years, and still don't have any idea."
In grade school I used to sit there in my little desk looking out into the sky...anything to avoid doing arithmetic, or history or geography. Maybe to escape the displeasure or even wrath of some of the teachers. My second grade teacher was a dour and chronically unpleasant woman. It was rumored that her husband had shot himself. And, my fifth grade teacher could be a nasty woman at any minute. I thought she was adorable with her pretty round freckly face. Mrs. Jacoby had temper fits. She threw things at the students or the blackboard, dropped books heavily on purpose, stomped her pump-clad feet, yelled at students. We fourth graders heard this through the wall, and shivered in fear of surviving the next year. Instilling fear and shame was the name of her game.
At tai class. I find myself looking out the windows every way we turn - a part of me longing to be released. Not to escape numbers per se, but to be free of man made structures and imposed limitations - self or otherwise. And those school day memories of teachers who belittled and shamed internalized into my lower back and abdomen are causing distress.
OK, so that is a part of what is being unlearned now in tai chi class. Letting go of my embodied grade school experiences/memories now. Several of the instructors at the tai chi center have some unhealthy "motivational tools" and personality quirks of their own. We're all human here. I'm not the only one who sees this. But that's not the point. The point is that Community IS the crucible of fire where we burn out all that is not true until only purity is left in ourselves. No need to have concern about the others. That is their homework. They will get to it in due time. Perhaps even unbeknownst to them, we're just having mini re-enactments for me to see what to let go of. It's all good!