Rising Dragon Tai Chi

A Journey of Acceptance

by Gail Minter


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As most of you are aware this last nine months has been an interesting time for me - to say the least. Last September I began to experience some restriction in the use of my left arm which increased with time. In October my right arm "caught" the same dis-ease. By November they were getting
painful in the day and at night especially so and my sleep was suffering very badly. I was beginning to feel exhausted. All through this time I saw an osteopath, went to my GP who referred me to a physiotherapist, saw my acupuncturist, received various types of massage, took sleeping tablets and herbs, pain killers and anti-inflammatories that did not seem to make any difference. I was like a worm wriggling on the end of a hook trying to "get my arms sorted". I was trying to manipulate them better, not accepting the way they were and the implications of that. I had taken a long five week break at Christmas hoping that would help - no change ! By January they were no better and I was considering taking a sabbatical from teaching. I decided I could not start a new beginners class as planned, I would have to wait and see.

I was seeing a therapist to perhaps uncover what message this strange affliction may have for me. It seems as if my left arm was on strike until I listened to it and my right arm was frozen with fear. But what was my right arm frightened of and what did my left arm want? This all sounds completely mad unless you believe that the mind and body interact closely.

Emotional and psychological memories get locked into the body as patterns that later in life may manifest as dis-ease to be healed, when we listen to the message. Also the psyche/soul/spirit, if it feels it is not being listened to may, "send " a message through the body. This is why body work
such as Massage, Osteopathy, Yoga and Tai Chi can release deep-set emotions and facilitate healing on more than the physical level. It is truly effective when they are entered into with a mind that wishes to transform and heal rather than a mind that wants to make it better without facing the issues arising out of the dis-ease.

I felt there was a breakthrough on a course with Richard in January. We were participating in a day of healing meditation. Something in me surrendered and I felt that I was totally supported by a web or net. It was not something tangible but a presence that I had not been able to perceive
before. My sense is that it is always there but I do not allow myself to feel its support and to trust it.

Later that day I had a real feeling that "My father loved me". This was significant as I had a row with my father at Christmas which in a strange way brought us closer together because afterwards we were able to show our love in spite of our differences of opinion. However this phrase had a larger sense to it as well as it also felt that it was my "Father in Heaven"/ the Tao who loved me too. This is where the ultimate support lies and I sense it allows me to be myself - I am accepted as I am - I do not have to struggle with being my father's daughter or my husband's wife, making myself fit. This acceptance allowed me to let go of the struggle to fix my arms.

With this understanding I knew it would all be all righ whether or not I had to stop teaching Tai Chi - a scary prospect as being an RDTC Teacher, this is where I have put my energy for the last 15 years and one I had been resisting in the autumn. I also decided to go back to a pottery class and to dance again. These activities free my creativity, give me opportunity to explore and play with clay and play with people through dance. Talking with Richard he encouraged me to teach differently. This lead to the "Way of Tai Chi", course this spring, which has been challenging to lead and enjoyable. I will see in the coming year if this approach bears the fruit I hope it will. And so in February I started to get my sleep back, my arms weren't so painful and slowly first the left and now the right began to get an increasing range of movement. To the point when normal movement has been restored in both arms.

So what made the change? Looking back I feel my experience on the course in January allowed me to stop struggling to fix my arms - to accept them as they were and the consequences of them not healing. Then listening and acting on what they were trying to tell me - to allow my adventurous spirit to play, to see life as an exploration/experiment - what works and what does not, without "Judgement" with the capital J. Everything that happens is "Grist for the Mill" and perfect for what we need to learn if we are listening. If we do not hear another "lesson" will arrive in due course.

I am increasingly aware all of life can be approached as an "Adventure". I can journey into the centre of a flower to experience its beauty; I can walk round the next corner/headland to see what is there; I can be open to and
appreciate the next person I meet in a dance; I can see what will emerge from a ball of clay, I can get inside a Tai Chi posture or play the form to fully experience it and see what it will reveal to me. These are all "adventures" if I am open to them in that spirit and do not close down in my mind or heart because of fears or indifference etc. Life is to be engaged with not ignored.

So it seems the path of acceptance and soft limit really does work. The Tao wants me to express myself fully and will support me in that. It wants us all to grow into the fullness of our being, to shine our lights for the good of the world, not hide them under bushels. Just as this is the coming of age of the school, I feel I am allowing myself to express more of who I am. In the autumn and winter I was denying the reality and implications of my arms - The Struggle. The practice has been to stick (listen) to what is happening within and without - to my fears, hopes and frustrations. To root
(hold to my centre) as these feelings "push" me. The most important of all was to yield (accept), with the support of my root, and to trust the Tao is supporting me. Then I have been able to hear the message and know what to do.

Push Hands and the Tai Chi forms allow me to practice these principles so that I am grounded in them when life comes along with its pushes/tests/lessons to be learned. We can manipulate ourselves into Tai Chi postures without addressing and releasing the underlying problems and so they will recur. Or we can stand in front of the problem without trying to fix it - and we need our root to do this. We can stick and listen so we hear/experience it fully and finally with the heart open and engaged we will know what is required to heal and transform this particular problem in the form.

May you all also find these universal principles as practised and expressed in Tai Chi of benefit in your daily lives. May you come to know the support and love of the Tao so it may sustain you in your journey.

Gail Minter


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