A discourse on Practice

A fascinating thread appeared on our Tai Chi Tribe group on Facebook recently regarding practice, and I thought I would not be able to explain the ups and downs of practising the art better than the comments made by all the contributors.

SN:
Has anyone gone through a period where they simply couldn't practise?

AG:
Yes. Realized the importance of digestion time and taking a break.

SN:
Any tips on ways to stay in tune with the vibrations and spirals? Do you practice other modes (yoga, feldenkreis, etc) or just relax into your being, so to speak? I feel like my body wants to vibe, but it hurts my lower back if I move too much.

But I'm thinking too much. AG, thanks. I just realized I never really let myself digest.

CG:
Stop for how long ? lets have some info folks, personally ive never gone more than a day or two without doing at least a few mins practice, but then im only a few years in , not double figures yet ..

AG:
I've take off two weeks and specifically did nothing like this material. Which was harder than I thought not to engage with this stuff at all. Especially after an intense practice time. It seems to help me again digest all the new info.

JL:
Yes! Over 24 years there have been lots and lots of periods of rest and integration time when I did little formal practice because I was just too darned busy, tired, or many other things were a priority! Being a working mother doing jobs with tight deadlines, carer for the two octogenarian mothers living in our home, local politician, school governor, housekeeper, gardener, general lover of life etc (and all simultaneously for a year or three), practice often didn't happen 'properly' whatever that might mean. But hey, micro practise is FAB, and I'm not in a hurry. Over this time, my knowledge of meditation, tai chi, qigong and bagua literally saved the life of my daughter and has given me much improved health and wellbeing and joy of life. Just be natural with it and follow your gut feeling and energy not your intellect o what other people tell you. It is YOUR journey. If you need a break from practice, take one. Winter is great for a spot of hibernation. I still love my practices and love teaching, don't worry about it.

CG:
I find my mental health and state of my nerves deteriorates , if i don't find space for some practice and/or meditation, i start to notice very soon. Also ive got to the point where, for example, i'll open doors with martial hand positions (softly) or i pick the toilet seat up with my toe , focusing on structure and balance , would be hard to switch that off , im just pissing about but i guess it all adds up ?!?

SN:
thanks everyone. great thoughts.

JP:
Practice changes, we change, and vice versa. Seasonal practice strategy makes good healthy sense2, build in winter 4expression and growth spring summer. Things I was poor at in my first 10 years of practice, now in my 30th+.. Regularity even when ill is always good, as pointed out here as micro practices. Making all activities mindful or coloured with skill development also good, Chinese have always followed that and folk tales saturated with such training. Be kind to one self if we fall short of our expectations and abilities, is a sane path too :-)

JS:
My practice goes in peaks and troughs. I try to balance it out but it has a pattern of all or nothing. This is due in part to other competing demands of life that need attending too. However, I do find that during periods of difficulty or stress in other areas of life, the more I practice the more it helps to put other stuff into perspective. I really notice the effects of lack of practice if I go too long with no practice. I've always wished I could settle my practice into same time each day, but over time I have learnt to work with what I can when I can instead putting tension on myself thst i must do X amount of time each day. I too go for micro practice - opening kwa as I open a door or dropping chi whilevstuck in a queue. It makes the mundane activities more interesting and helps to keep your connection with following your path.

.. After a while SN posted:
About a month ago I asked whether folks had gone through a period where they couldn't practice. I went at least a month, and it was the first time I went that long in years. Whenever I tried it hurt - physically, mentally and spiritually. I went through Rolfing, and that had an impact, although the difficulty practicing began in mid 2013. The Rolfing exacerbated it. However, about two weeks ago I felt the overwhelming urge to practice again. I did the Wu short. Felt really good. Still can't do some chi gung -- gods is just too much -- and can't sit for very long. But working back into it. The reason I'm posting this is because posing the question here was part of my "recovery," and it might be helpful for others. Good chi to all!

GL:
Good that you took a break

EB:
great to hear your curiousity to practice bubbled up again :)

PF:
I guess there might be two questions you could ask yourself. Did you stop practising because you just needed a break, in which case you listened to your body and well done - remember not practising is not a sin. Or, was the content you were practising in some way inappropriate, e.g. too strong or unbalanced, and your body either rejected it or needed time off to process it. Either way, recognising that you have a choice (to rest) may well open other doors that were hidden to you whilst in the intensity of your practice.

I took two years off once - I'm still here...

LS:

Hello! Thank you for accepting me. I used to practice a lot during pregnancy and during my baby's first 6 months. Now she is 1 year and a half and Still can not go back to a real practice, I just look for chances of feeling my kua while playing with my baby girl. Reading your post inspires me. Greetings from Mexico

JL:
Hi LS, I had a lot of practice gaps for the very same reason. Energy Arts and the tai chi world need more mothers, who truly understand nurture, patience, prioritising and making the most of micro practice, so hang on in there and just do whatever you can, whenever you can! Observing and feeling how your baby moves is a great practice in itself. Babies do the best Kwa squats ever, totally naturally. Take some photos of her squatting and rising and you may find yourself using them as a teaching resource one day!

LS:
Thank you JL, good idea. I will love to tell you how it goes. Is good to find some mother understanding. Saludos!

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