Monday, July 5, 2010

My Tai Chi Family

I just finished my first week-long tai chi workshop. It was hosted by Dr. Paul Lam in Tacoma. I took one class that lasted the week. It was called Exploring the Depths of the 24 Form. All of the students had roughly similar experience with tai chi so we could really help each other.

This workshop was one of the most amazing experiences I have ever had. I have new calluses on my feet. My legs hurt in places I didn’t know I had. In the mornings, I woke up so stiff that I could hardly walk. But that doesn’t matter because I learned more, smiled more, and laughed more than at any time I can remember.

I was the only man in a group of 10 of the most beautiful women I have ever met. Beauty is smiles and happiness and grace. It is openness and sharing and it is learning and growing together. Beauty is also the courage to face the doubt and anxiety created by that little voice inside our heads that tells us we aren’t good enough.

At the end of the first day of class, I shared an observation with the group. I saw in them the smoothness and gracefulness and beauty of experienced tai chi players, while I “felt like a klutz.” Every single one of my classmates disagreed with me. They all said they were the ones who were stumbling around and I looked graceful.

Where does this self-doubt come from? We all have it. How do we quiet that little voice and recognize the goodness within ourselves? I would like to quote something Caroline Demoise wrote in a recent newsletter.

What you believe is frequently the most important predictor of the outcome in both medicine and in learning tai chi. When you expect that you will learn a form, you do. When you believe that you can improve with practice, you will.
My simple interpretation of Caroline’s words is that “my thoughts create my attitude and my outcomes.”

Imagine a bathroom scale. How many of us consider that scale to be our friend? It’s a way we measure our imperfections. What if there were a scale that weighed our worth instead of our weight? What if that scale weighed our worth based on what other people think of us instead of what we think of ourselves? I can tell you the results. All of you, my tai chi family, are worth your weight in gold. Use that thought to quiet that little voice so you can appreciate beauty as you should.

It may seem a little strange to tell everyone about spending a week with such a wonderful group of beautiful women without my wife being there. But they are my tai chi sisters that I didn’t know I had.

PS: I haven’t told my wife yet about next year's workshop in Terre Haute.

© 2010 Eric Borreson