“Above all, be at ease, be as natural and spacious as possible.
Slip quietly out of the noose of your habitual anxious self, release all grasping, and relax into your true nature. Think of your ordinary, emotional, thought-ridden self as a block of ice or a slab of butter left out in the sun. If you are feeling hard and cold, let this aggression melt away in the sunlight of your meditation. Let peace work on you and enable you to gather your scattered mind into the mindfulness of Calm Abiding, and awaken in you the awareness and insight of Clear Seeing. And you will find all your negativity disarmed, your aggression dissolved, and your confusion evaporating slowly, like mist into the vast and stainless sky of your absolute nature.”
The above quotation comes from The Tibetan Art of Living and Dying and pertains to the practice of meditation. It also encapsulates my experience of Chi Kung and Tai Chi, practices that soften and melt on many levels.
The most primary experience of Tai Chi is movement at a physical level, and I dread to think how my physical progression would evolve over the next few years if I wasn’t stretching during warm up, and during the various practices I have learned to enjoy. Spending a week in The Orthopedic Hospital after a horse riding accident in which I fractured my pelvis convinced me of the necessity of exercise. The ward mainly contained elderly people who had sustained injury during falls and brought to my attention the number of people on the street who couldn’t walk without the use of a cane because their physical structure had seized up.
As we are mind/body creatures, our emotions are intimately connected to our physicality and one affects the other. As Chuang-Tzu states, “In all things The Way does not want to be obstructed, for if there is obstruction, there is choking; if the choking does not cease, there is disorder, and disorder harms the life of all creatures.”
Maintaining an awareness of myself as a being of energy vibrating as part of a field of energy, facilitates my understanding of the necessity of keeping that energy flowing. Where there is blockage in the system, suffering ensues. This suffering will occur on physical, emotional and intellectual levels. Meditation and movement, indeed meditation as movement within the forms of Tai Chi and Chi Kung, softens the damaging grasp of contraction engendered by a cultural milieu predicated on argument, fear and the illusion of isolation. Sensing one’s own energy while consciously connecting to the greater universal field of energy, allows for a softening of the experience of boundaries thereby increasing one’s sense of being All That Is.
Sogyal Rinpoche uses the metaphor of a vase. Once the vase breaks, one realizes the space one previously discerned as being inside the vase was, all along, the same space as that by which it was surrounded. The culturally conditioned mind creates the boundary which the practice dissolves, until one becomes, to quote Deepak Chopra, a “citizen of the field.” As citizens of the field, we realize our connection to our greater selves. Free from the versions of Reality we have constructed, we are liberated to live more loving, playful, creative and compassionate lives. We are all genies, imagining ourselves captive in a bottle, until we realize there is no bottle and we are free to work magic in our lives.
Over millennia, Taoists have developed disciplined, specific practices designed to channel energy through our various energetic systems, allowing us to actively interpenetrate various dimensions of existence, drawing energy from those dimensions into the ‘physical’ dimension of the Earth plane, through our various energy bodies and into the physical bodies we have fashioned for this lifetime. It is my sense that these disciplines are interplanetary and inter-dimensional, technological gifts we receive in order to help us to complete our task of awakening to the loving creative power we are.
Learning to create a flowing energy system allows us to feel more compassionate towards the Little Self we inhabit this lifetime. As citizens of warlike cultures we learn to integrate conflict, creating an internal battleground in which we chastise our inner Other whilst simultaneously perceiving this inner culprit in those around us. The technologies with which we have been gifted, when utilized, allow our Higher Selves and Highly Evolved Beings access to the dimension of our human consciousness so that we may be assisted in the work we were born to do.
While we are in the midst of suffering without means of amelioration we exist in a Me-centered universe in which our transcendental heart struggles to open. Once we avail of this life buoy, the practice, which provides us with the means to save ourselves, we can become more compassionate towards others drowning in the sea of illusion and soften our attitudes towards them. (I’m also thinking of a few specific people here whom I am struggling to like, whilst acknowledging how much I’ve learned from my dislike of their behaviour, mainly, to look out for the temptation to behave likewise myself and not to refrain from doing so!)
Practicing Tai Chi and meditation enables me to integrate so much of the learning of my previous decades, each ‘piece’ of which has been essential to my growth as a human and a spirit being. I also feel privileged to know the people I’ve met during this time, people who are consciously working on the development of their awareness and exhibit a higher caliber of behaviour towards themselves and others as a result.
“Tibetan masters say that this wise generosity has the flavour of boundless space, so warm and cozy that you feel enveloped and protected by it, as if by a blanket of sunlight.”
This Golden Sun of the practice, the warm blanket of Divine Light experienced during meditation and further integrated through the disciplined, orchestrated movements of Chi Kung and Tai Chi is not only a true agent of positive change, but a solid base from which to reach out to facilitate a wider transformation, as it naturally translates into behaviour which benefits others.