"The sensation of overcoming the worrisome mind and controlling it is unmistakable. To be able to feel united in body and mind, and not alienated from nature is a powerful thing."
The old saying, "It can't get any worse" is so untrue, just multiply your problems by two! Pandemic, police brutality, recession/depression, riots, looting, etc and it seems no break in sight. So what do we do? There is lots to think about, lots to talk about, lots to emote about, but what to do? And before I go further, I have no answers to the big questions, my concerns are about you.
For your health, take some time to be quiet, away from news and such, and do some breath work, solo form, or any other practice. It may feel all wrong, but it may feel a little bit good. Take a walk if it's safe to do so. Read a little, listen to music, sing, play music. Even a short break can give some rest and recharge. I'll continue sending lessons so take one and learn something new, just for the fun of it.
For the Academy's health, I am keeping it closed, both in the physical space and in general, for June. If Covid news changes, we can entertain the idea of outside classes, but there is no hurry. As for our space, I'm assessing the damage and the atmosphere. A good guess is that we will relocate, for too many reasons to list here. I will give more info in the mid-June update.
For Minneapolis' health, send light, healing, love, understanding, justice, and calm. Never underestimate the power of your thoughts, intentions, and prayers. If you have a realty good round of practice and you feel great, send some of that energy out into the world, need will distribute it for you!
I have no words to express my gratitude for your cards, letters, tuition, and support these last months. I am paying some good-will rent and will continue to do so with your generosity and support. Your notes telling me how much tai-chi helps you through all this are priceless gems and treasures. To see the practical applications of this art is encouraging and humbling. Thank you.
Book suggestion- The Oxygen Advantage by Patrick McKeown (I've been doing this work for some time and it is directly parallel to Master Liang's and Master Choi's breathwork, complete with all the science.)
Sword review- I got my sword from Kult of Athena, a jian or double edged Taiji sword. For the money, it is not anywhere near the quality of the old Kris Cutlery swords. The blade is exceptional, but the handle is not, making it not the best to wield. My suggestion is, spend a bit more and get the Arms and Armor replica of my antique sword, or spend less and get the Han Wei Practical Tai-Chi sword. Now, if I could get paid to review swords, and given examples for my collection, I would embrace a whole new career!
You should continue to get Videos and lessons for the foreseeable future. I have many already filmed and tons of material for you. I will also schedule a zoom class for the Academy in July and share some other on-line ideas I have for you all.
A quick shout out to the "recon teams" who checked out the Ivy Building and the Academy. Thank you Fred, Robbie, Bob M, Nic, and our landlord Josh.
With this newsletter, I'll be adding a message to you from Julie Cisler, my right-hand woman, who helps me run the Academy and who is a teacher with her own practice.
Take care of yourself, mentally, physically, and spiritually. I'm here for you in any way I can. Bless you all.
"If you are hoping to develop a relationship with someone, a good first step is to find a place to meet. When that "someone" is a god, begin with an altar."
-Diana L. Paxson
My address-1721 Jefferson St, Duluth, MN 55812
From My Notebooks
Hello from social distancing to all of you, my Tai-Chi friends and family! I miss all of you very much. I look forward to the day that I get to see you in person again.
We are truly living in "interesting times." I'm glad that my past experience allowed me to quickly switch most of my teaching to Zoom. It saved my income. But, even more than financial survival, this strange situation has benefited me in far-reaching and unexpected ways. I suddenly had to push myself to creatively solve problems I would not have anticipated. I can't tell you how many times I've heard from people who tried to learn Tai-Chi from a video and gave up in frustration. How could I appeal to students who were skeptical about trying to practice and learn on a video conferencing app?
Once again, when facing a challenge or difficulty, I turned to the Classics, the principles, and to the treasures in my notebooks, lessons from Sifu Ray and Master Choi. Master Choi says, "The basics are advanced; you must practice." What a gem! Returning to the "basics" isn't a sign of failure, it's an opportunity to see everything with new eyes. I see it as an opportunity for further refinement, for my teaching, for my practice and for myself.
I remember an anecdote a former classmate told me about her second hip replacement. The surgery did not go well, and she had to endure the entire procedure twice. As a result, her recovery was maddeningly slow. She had persistent weakness in that hip, and was frustrated that she couldn't practice her Tai-Chi form. So she tried every other therapy she could find: physical therapy, Pilates, water aerobics, massage therapy, acupuncture, even other Tai-Chi teachers. Nothing seemed to help at all.
Finally, one day she spotted Master Liang's book T'ai-Chi Ch'uan for Health and Self Defense on her bookshelf. She was idly paging through the book, and started to re-read his beautiful translations of the Classics. She started to wonder if she'd really been adhering to the principles she was reading. If not, maybe carefully practicing these basic principles would allow her to at least practice more of her form. She started practicing, very slowly at first, taking great care to include new insights she learned from re-reading his book. Her patience and willingness to go "back to the basics" paid off. She recovered her strength and stability in three months!
We all must face difficulties and frustrations at times. I can't say that they can all be overcome. But practicing and analyzing the basics has helped me through a difficulty many times. I hope that you will also benefit from this important idea. Until we can say hello in person, I wish you and your families safety and peace. See you on the other side!