Holding Onto NothingDecember 3, 2007
Finding your way on the road without a destination
Getting on the road is your practice. Your goal is not your practice. I am very goal orientated and for that reason I had difficulty staying on the road. When I first started out practicing karate my goals were very up front. All my life I had felt insignificant physically and I supposed that learning karate would wash away my feelings of inadequacy. I threw myself into my practice. Over the years I developed my techniques and skills and eventually started to teach. However my feelings of inadequacy stayed with me. Along with my karate I started to work out with weights. Again my reasoning was that if I got bigger muscles I would get where I wanted to go. My insecurities stayed with me. Here I was outwardly formidable inwardly insignificant. I was not able to reach my goals. Pretty frustrating to say the least.
At this time I decided to change my method of self development and started looking into Tai Chi. I located a school in New York where Cheng Man Ching was teaching and promptly signed up. On my first day of instruction as I was walking into the school Chen Man Ching was on his way out of the school. That was the first and last time I was to see him.(Chen Man Ching was in many ways the founder of the Yang style of Tai Chi in the United States) I learned the Yang style form from his two sons and continued my practice with Lou Kleinsmith, a senior teacher of Chen Man Ching. It was here that I started to change.
The teaching was steeped in the philosophy of relaxation. That is to say total and complete relaxation of the entire body and mind. At first my development was very slow. After all I was totally uptight. My whole physical structure was tensed and contracted and a lot of my insecurities were tied up in my muscles. My neck was always stiff and I thought that that stiffness was normal, until I started to relax. I thought that my goal in Tai Chi was to become a fighter. After all Tai Chi Chuan means grand ultimate fist. So again I had a goal, fighting.
Slowly my purpose started to shift from fighting to the development of relaxation. True relaxation works much like a jigsaw puzzle. At first the puzzle pieces are too far away from each other to fit. After a long time the pieces start to come together. You start to move as one unified being. Your arms do not move by themselves, they move with your body. The meridians thru which Chi flows only open up thru relaxation and you start to understand the phrase. The will moves the chi and the chi moves the body. The form now takes on a different quality. You feel connected and appear to float thru the form. My teacher always said that the form does you; you do not do the form. As a result my form developed thru the practice of relaxation. I realized that my goal of fighting could only be realized thru the practice of relaxation and the more I relaxed, the less fighting seemed important.
Amazingly enough I now had new goals. My new goal was to do the practice. And then I started to change. Old feelings of insecurity slowly melted away. My mind calmed, my body relaxed. My breath became the link between my body and mind. A sense of peace and harmony entered my life. This manifested one day as I was driving to work. My nervous stomach suddenly stopped bothering me. I had this malady for many years, and all of a sudden it was gone.
Better health thru Tai Chi can manifest in you thru the practice of relaxation. A feeling of connectiveness develops along with spirituality. Heart and soul become connected, the heart center opens and feelings of love and compassion manifest. What more can one want?