Thursday, January 10, 2013

Being like a Cloud, Embracing the Tiger

The performer is Gao Jiamin.  According to Kungfu Magazine (July 2000 issue) she was born in Fuzhou City, Fujian Province, China June 26, 1966. At the time of the article she had "won 32 gold medals, a record that has never been achieved by any other competitor". She is (or was) a chief instructor at "US Wushu Center" in Portland, OR.

T'ai Chi is like a slow, beautiful dance where your hands can wave like a cloud, lift water, repulse a monkey, part a wild horse's mane, grasp a sparrow's tail, or embrace a tiger --all names of actual T'ai Chi positions.  There are 108 of them.  I have so far managed to master only the first 16.  The forms themselves are not difficult - it's remembering the entire sequence that's challenging.  It looks so easy, but each body placement and movement is precisely intended.  Our instructor's teacher spent six months perfecting a single form.  This no longer seems a strange thing to me. 

Is it True what they say, about the energy?

On a trip to Buffalo last year there sat next to me on the bus a young ex-professional hockey  player traveling from Canada to the U.S. to visit his girlfriend.  He'd been forced to reconsider his career options after a bout of devastating injuries which required immediate surgery, leaving him with an unexpected, long-term disability.  He took up yoga, one might say with a vengeance, determined to "fix" himself.  One year later his doctors were amazed.  He was now stronger and in better health than he'd been before the accident, and no longer limited in what he could do.  It was a wake-up call for him, he told me, which changed his life. 

He told me more about yoga. I told him what little I know about T'ai Chi.  We've both, apparently, at one time or another, experienced the "prana", or universal energy they all talk about.  I used to think this was all just "New Age" talk, till I actually experienced it.  I can't speak for others but since then, I find I don't get tired, rarely get sick (except a minor cold), and have none of the aches and pains and maladies most people my age seem to routinely suffer from, that require medication.  Unlike gulping down a Red Bull energy drink or caffeinated coffee where you're temporarily jolted into "reboot", this energy is a quieter, more sustained infusion. It lasts longer.  And you can access it  by practicing yoga, chi gong and t'ai chi.

Words, too, energize, heal.

To each his own.  One person's passionate pursuit is another's yawnful non-interest.  But a person's single, scratched-out line in a penciled scribbling contemptuously discarded, unexpectedly unnearthed decades later,  random words or a single line in a book--could be the impetus to change a random reader/hearer's entire life. This, too, is a kind of  energy.  It happens.  What is it, this invisible 'life' force they talk about, that no one can see, much less adequately define?  History shows us that a single word,  idea, or image, can effect monumental changes.  Hidden energies manifest in language and the creative impulse, that starts the ball rolling, whereby a connection is made and one's reality suddenly changes.  Behind everything, Consciousness.

The Difference Between Doing it and Being it

The quotation (from the person who posted the video to YouTube) describes it as a "performance".  As did I, above.  Performance can be perfected, such that it becomes as natural as say, breathing.  You don't even think about it, you just begin, until you end.  Sometimes during the doing, however, you transcend the fact of doing, and enter a place beyond the self-in-the-act-of-doing and become pure [what's the word here? Rhythm? Energy? Being?] It's not Automatonville from force of habit, nor out-of-body, -  I can list a dozen things it's not.  It's less loss of consciousness of self than total,  joyful immersion into what one might call the "dance of Life."  Even those who can't dance can see it.