As you know, learning Tai Chi is one of my goals for 2017. I chose this goal because I want to strengthen my left knee which has been a problem for over a decade. I don’t intend to have balance issues in my old age.
Here is my Tai Chi update!
In February, I started a Tai Chi class that runs 2x weekly for 3 months. I chose to learn Taoist Tai Chi because that is what is taught in the town where I live, the price was reasonable ($155 for 3 months of unlimited classes) and I liked the emphasis on health! It is also an international organizations with locations in 28 states and 26 countries. The instructors are volunteers who have been accredited by the Taoist Tai Chi Society.
According to their website Taoist.org “The Taoist Tai Chi® internal arts are specifically designed to improve health. The significant degree of turning and stretching in each of the movements, combined with the adaptability of the form to suit individual needs, are just some of the factors that contribute to its focus on restoring, improving and maintaining health.”
Needless to say, I choose health by practicing Taoist Tai Chi. Actually, I don’t know if I can call what I do practicing Tai Chi as it is more like fumbling in the direction that the instructor is moving!
I love it! I really love it and not only because I know it will help my left knee and improve my balance. I love it because I had to step outside of my comfort zone. I had to join a class and meet a room full of strangers. Learning something new is hard and uncomfortable and your negative inner voice keeps giving messages regarding how silly you look or how bad you are doing.
But we can’t grow as human beings without stepping outside of our comfort zone, we can’t learn and improve without feeling silly and uncomfortable during the process. We can’t maximize happiness while sitting on the couch! With that in mind, I am saying good-bye to the comfort zone!
By the end of next week, we will have learned the first half of the Taoist Tai Chi series of 108 moves. No, I have not mastered all of them and some of them seem so foreign that I wonder if I will ever feel confident in my ability to do them correctly. But I can watch the instructors as they demonstrate each move and then have us follow along. I can observe, complete a return demonstration and practice. The class is 2x per week and I fell behind when I missed 2 weeks while visiting Mother Fran.
I pushed myself to go to an intensive 3 hour class to learn what I missed. I went to 2 extra classes in order to catch up to the rest of the class. It feels good to learn something new. Each class we complete everything we have learned so far and then learn something new. I can demonstrate moves such as “single whip”, “needle to sea bottom” and “grasp the bird’s tail”. But when I have to “wave hands like clouds” and “carry tiger to mountain” my brain has no idea what to tell my arms and legs what to do.
Every person in that room feels silly and has little confidence that they are getting it. I know this because Child #1 and her partner are taking the class with me. We talk about how hard it can be to make your hands flow in the correct direction, especially when your feet are supposed to be doing something completely different. Talking about it helps us all understand that we are all feeling like we are faking it. Personally, I intend to fake it until I make it!
I also know we are all getting better because I see the progress in myself and others week to week. Pretty soon, I won’t have to fake it… I will just be another person practicing Tai Chi in order to maximize health!
According to Medical News Today Tai Chi “has been shown to improve balance control, fitness, and flexibility, and to reduce the risk of falls in older people. It appears to reduce pain and the symptoms of depression.”
Oh – and it is fun!
“We have to be honest about what we want and take risks rather than lie to ourselves and make excuses to stay in our comfort zone.” – Ray Bennett
What have you done recently to step outside of your comfort zone?