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by Gail Minter
RDTC Teacher Bristol.
In the pursuit of knowledge,
every day something is added.
In the practice of the Tao,
every day something is dropped.
Less and less do you need to force things,
Until finally you arrive at non-action.
When nothing is done,
Nothing is left undone.
True mastery can be gained
by letting things go their own way.
It can’t be gained by interfering.
Verse 48 Tao Te Ching, Lao-tzu
translator Stephen Mitchell
Having returned home after my sabbatical from teaching in Bristol, I have been reflecting on my Tai Chi journey which began in 1979.
During this journey my reasons for practicing have evolved. First it to know what Tai Chi was, then to learn to do it as well as I was able, then for my health and gradually for my spiritual development.
My understanding of what “spiritual” means to me has also grown and developed over the years. In the early years, I was definitely “adding” and in the pursuit of knowledge. The later years revealed what was in the way and the process of “dropping” could begin, leading the way towards what lies at the heart of us as we peel away what no longer serves us. And so it continues as more and more layers unfold and fall away like the petals of a flower to reveal the fruit which can then ripen.
During my travels this year the inner journey intensified as time for travel drew to a close. It was almost as if the whole journey was to take me to that place in myself which was in the way of the next step. Whilst I was away I uncovered a very deep belief which has run me for nearly 50 years and has got me to where I am now. So it has had some purpose and I can appreciate how it has served me. The belief was so deeply buried, so woven into my structure, that I did not recognize it or its impact on me emotionally and psychologically.
Coming home has given me a different look at myself - to see my habit patterns kick back in but with some distance on them. When I stand in this old pattern, there is a fear of being “wrong” and being harshly punished. It is difficult to fully relax with this anxiety at the core of me. This is hardly living from my own centre, my own truth. It is dependent and reactive. It is part of the “old” pattern of a “punishing God” rather than the new pattern of being a co-creator of my life.
So now I am exploring how to "be" with these different “modus operandi” as skilfully as I can. To recognize where I am living from in myself and when I see the “old” pattern to “drop” it and to choose a love of life rather than fear.
My body and my psyche are finding new positions - literally. At times this is not at all comfortable emotionally and physically. It also feels like there is huge potential as I let go of this pattern for some real freedom, real spaciousness and real feeling without the anxiety of "am I right". And I want to be able to play Tai Chi from that space and to teach from there and to live from there more and more. It is a “dropping” of what is in the way. And I know from past experience that the more I let go of in my life, the better I feel in myself. The better I feel the less of the personal me is in the way, and the closer I come to the essence of who we all are - the heart of us - our true natures.
This is the journey that Rising Dragon Tai Chi School invites us to tread if we wish to, in our own way and at our own pace. There is no forcing as each of us finds our own individual path. This is a wonderful opportunity to stop “adding” and open to the receptive mind of “being” and receive what is already there when we “drop” what is in the way. Practice letting go of what is in the way by embracing our tigers and returning to the mountain of stillness, our root.
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