21ST CENTURY TAI CHI
The merging of creativity, passion and technology in the movement arts
21ST CENTURY TAI CHI
The merging of creativity, passion and technology in the movement arts
Want to learn the secret of Tai Chi? Well, it's all in the waist and I'm going to teach you 2 exercises that will not only bring back a flow to your form, but by extending the practice elsewhere, will unite everything you do .
Want more exercises to help with your Tai Chi? Check out this post on Energy Work Video Exercises too.
"Hey mOnk! What style do you practice?"
Over the last 30 years I have had more people ask me this than I have had hot dinners. My answer is never to name a style or a school or a lineage, for that would be playing into the game of comparisons and judgements. That is not the Way.
Instead, my answer is to talk about the waist in Tai Chi, for although the classic texts talk about the importance of the waist, rarely do you see it demonstrated.
THE WAIST AND THE DIFFERENT STYLES OF TAI CHI
I began my Tai Chi journey back in the early 80s and with a flowery style (that shall not be named) overflowing with gentle wrist moves and arm swinging, finger-circling and Buddha smiles, but all unrelated to the waist. I loved it, until I began to wonder where the strength for the moves came from.
From there I flirted with other styles, more powerful and demonstrably energy packed. Feet were stomped, fists pounded and even little energetic shouts accompanied the explosive moves. But I'd only just left a decade of karate classes and had had enough of all of that. I was looking for another expression and another source of energy.
It was then that I discovered the basis of what would be my practice for the rest of my life: the power of the waist. I learned 3 simple exercises that I could then relate to all the moves, the footwork, the arms and all the Tai Chi postures. I suddenly realised how to move as a connected human being.
Try them yourself. Note that when you turn, your upper body is soft, and flexible and your lower half heavy and grounded. Note where the sense of connection comes from and look for that sense of momentum and swing that I talked about in this post
And note that the waist leads, the body follows and the rest all alls into place. Remember, Tai Chi is not just about technique, it is also about principles that can also be applied to almost any other physical practices, from tying your ponytail into place, to cooking a dhal or even to walking (or gliding) down the road.
So here they are, (well here are 2/3, but you'll find the other on my web site tucked away somewhere) Exercises that once learned, you will be able to apply to life itself. These exercises feature as just one small part of one exercise video of over 100 in the Complete Tai Chi Course. You can learn more exercises here and here, download the Beginners Guide PDF for even more exercises or just jump right in and start your training at home today. Enjoy and don't forget - apply the principles beyond the exercise. (That, if anyone asks, is the real secret to tai Chi)
Learn other great Tai Chi Exercises in this video series
Or jump straight in and start learning at home today in the best course online in the known Solar System: The Complete Tai Chi Course - guaranteed to not only teach you Tai Chi, but all the related areas of study too. And Check out all the ebooks you get too (see below)
How is it that Tai Chi practitioners seem to glide, effortlessly as though their joints have been injected with Virgin Olive Oil? Why does a good practitioner, irrespective of style or suit, lineage or look, move like a smooth operator?
But how is it obtained? Where does it reside? What are the ways to build this art of movement into your style? The concept of swing and return is spoken of in some styles, in others as as spirals and circles. But it all amounts to 3 things:
Forget about everything else...
Forget everything else.
Forget notions of internal fire energy and explosive jin.
Forget diagrams with arrows and geometrical positions.
Forget anyone that says its all about tapping into Ley-lines or Qi rivers.
More on Momentum and Swing in Tai Chi
These 3 short videos are excerpts are taken from longer videos on this theme, each exploring in greater depth the idea of Swing and Momentum. They are taken from the Complete Tai Chi Course - 12 months of exercises, Tai Chi breathing, Form practice, applications, poetry, music, art, and documentaries. Find out how more here.
Jim Kelly, the martial artist and actor in Enter the Dragon died on June 29th 2013, aged 67. Kelly will be remembered for not just his charismatic fighting role, but his superb lines and presence on screen. Like Lee, he too was often typecast by a myopic Hollywood inhibited by its own prejudices.
“THE ROUND TABLE DEBATE: WORKING WITH THE LITTLE DRAGON
TRANSCRIPT OF RADIO SHOW: THE INTRODUCTIONS
Gerald Greene: Good evening and welcome to this week’s episode of Alphabetical Legends. My name is Gerald Greene and on this week’s show we are focusing on the letter L - for popular culture has indeed been blessed with some superb actors that have carried the letter to legendary heights: Christopher Lee, Spike Lee, Lee Van Cleef, Lee Majors and even Jet Li. But over and above all these, there has been one Lee that perhaps defined a whole genre of entertainment and social activities: The Little Dragon himself, Bruce Lee; actor, writer, producer and acknowledged King Of Kung Fu.
On tonight’s Round Table Discussion we will be discussing his impact on the lives of so many people across all the continents of the world and to do so, we have invited an esteemed panel of guests.
So let’s get on with the introductions: On my left - wearing a well-cut suit as always - I have Mr Williams - How are you Mr Williams?
Williams: Busy, very busy. But, hey, still looking good…
Gerald Greene: Next to Williams, we have the infamous opponent to Lee in the unforgettable Coliseum fight, Mr Colt. What are you up to these days Colt?
Colt: Oh, you know. Loads of TV work, films, endless series. Political campaigning, religious fund-raisers…
Gerald Greene: Fascinating, fascinating…maybe we can come back to some of that in another show? To my right side, I have the amiable and admirable Mr O’Hara, star of two films with the little Dragon. Welcome Mr O’Hara.
THE BOUNCE FACTOR
Gerald Greene: Colt, can we start with you. Perhaps, more than most of us here, you worked intimately with the man on his third film. The coliseum fight has gone down in the annals of martial history as one of the greatest fight sequences ever filmed. What is your outstanding memory of that Lee during that fight?
Colt: Well, he was bouncy. Not very hairy, but extremely bouncy.
Gerald Greene: Williams?
Williams: Yeah, Tigger had nothing on that cat. He was bouncy, Colt’s right about that.
Gerald Greene: O’Hara?
O’Hara: A bit bouncy. Though, not so much off screen.
Gerald Greene: Mr Han-Man?
Han (Luke): Mr Han says that he is in agreement with the general bounciness of the conversation but would like to add that Lee’s Style was unorthodox too.
Williams: But effective.”
Gerald Greene: Maybe we could leave the ‘bouncy’ discussion a moment and just go back to the coliseum fight. What does the panel think of the symbolism - classicism versus formlessness, Asia versus America or just the Japanese karate Gi versus the Chinese black trousers? Colt…?
Colt: Well, I’d have to return to the bouncy argument because I remember, after we watched the first out-takes, I said to Bruce: “Hey Bruce. Don’t you think I’m looking a bit rigid compared to you”, and he says that’s ‘cause you are rigid Colt. So I say “Can’t we change it?” and he says, “It’s your legacy Colt, it’s all you have to work with.”
More Interviews and Conversations with Past Masters
One Last Thing: All the interviews, all the stories all the controversies
In the months ahead we are all going to face the prospect of training alone as the Coronavirus spreads across the globe. I'm in Spain and here we cannot leave our houses unless to buy food or medicine. We cannot socialise in person, we cannot go out for exercise and we obviously cannot attend our Tai Chi Classes. But there is still a lot we can do at home.
I’ve compiled a list of resources and ideas for working from home, that includes reading matter, audiobooks and practical courses. I've added a combination of free books/audio/classes for those that find themselves out of work or having had to close their businesses. If this is you, then fear not, there are still a lot of things here to do.
Let me know if you have other suggestions and I’ll add them to the list.. Stay at home. Stay safe, and keep practising.
Read and Learn
One way to fill your time is to broaden your knowledge of a subject. Here is a link to a post I wrote about the best books on Tai Chi. available from all online books stores and in some cases even digital libraries too (check your local library website for access details).
Additionally, I have some links to free PDF’s that I give away for something to read. You can download:them all here:
Train at Home
If your classes have been suspended (and if they haven’t, believe me they will soon) then talk to your teacher about running online classes. He/she can use a Youtube private channel or more openly, a Facebook Live stream for a free quick solution.
LIVE SESSIONS FREE ON FACEBOOK (AND OTHER PLATFORMS)
I've been running a free daily Live session on Facebook Live. In the Uk at 5.30 (GMT) and in Spain at 6.30 (CET)
The day after I'm uploading edited versions of the videos to Instagram TV, and the day after that to Youtube. But it's important to try and connect and do it Live with me. Not only do you get longer and more complete sessions, but you get to share and connect with others at the same time. Setting up a routine is important when you self-isolate. Want to join in for 10 minutes a day? Just come over, to Facebook (use a relatives account if you don't have one) find me on Facebook here (Paul Read).
The classes are building up towards learning the 10 Step Form. If you'd like to learn this over the next few weeks, then join me Live on Facebook for the details, extra notes and links to special videos.
FREE INTRO STARTERS PACK
If Facebook is not your thing (and who can blame you?), you can join the Tai Chi Academy for free and do a 7 day course that is bundled free too.
Don't want to learn with me - why should you? Ask your teacher to organise something the same or look out for notifications from other teachers, as I’m sure we will see an explosion of online instructors over the next few weeks.
Listen and Learn
If it's rhythm that moves you, then you might like this 2 part series on Music and the martial arts Or Rest your eyes and switch off for a while by tuning in to the world of podcasts.
There are some great podcasts to entertain and educate out there - for example
If you prefer a longer listen then I am not sure how many Tai Chi books are in audio form. I have 2 that you can listen to samples of:
Create new Contacts
Probably the most important factor is staying positive and nurturing your spirit. Contact your fellow students and create a WhatsApp group. Share videos of your practice, insights, reading matter films suggestions, share a Netflix doc.
My Tai Chi class here in Spain keep in contact and share resources through a WhatsApp group. I can throw resources, videos and links as well as check on what they are doing. At times like this, when all other means of contact are strictly limited, it can be an important thread. that binds us together.
It is also possible to do the same with groups on FaceBook or other messenger apps - the important thing is to maintain a dialogue and keep the channels open during the months ahead.
Finally, the Free Ranger Taoist Facebook group is sharing other peoples live sessions too, so come over and join that.
So thats' it! I hope it's be useful. Keep well, join me on Facebook for the free sessions if you wish, otherwise - keep practising and do connect with people. Keep your spirit strong and let me (and others) know how you are doing.
Start Working and Building New Skills at Home Today
Stockpiling food isn't the way to go. Building you energy and immune system is. So here you go...if you know someone who is diagnosed and is positive? Give them a link and let them learn something useful at home. Know someone who is in self-isolation? Send a link. My heart is with you. Together we can overcome this. This course It isn't going to cure anyone, but it might just help. And that is what we all should be dong right now. Helping.
The mOnk (who is not a mOnk) talks about Tai Chi, Sword Play and Early Training with international journalist Gerald Greene (co-author of One Last Thing). This article also features in a new free Sword PDF you can download here.
Early Weapons Training
Greene: People may know you from your online courses, your podcasts and irreverent videos, but you are less well known amongst the Pointy community. Could you tell us something of your background in traditional weapon training?
mOnksy: It all started when I was about 5. My younger brother and I would habitually dress in plastic medieval armour and clash swords over the most minor of reasons: Who got to eat the last Custard Cream biscuit or who got to be goalkeeper when we played footie in the street outside.
Greene: Did you ever evolve beyond plastic weaponry?
mOnksy: No. I don't think so due to an incident that occurred a few years later. Whilst defending myself with a stick from a deadly pillow attack from above, I almost lost sight in one eye. I learnt that weapons could do as much damage to the wielder as the opponent, a lesson reinforced when I began learning the nunchaku in my teen years.
Going Beyond Plastic
Greene: Did you ever receive any training beyond defending yourself with a stick against pillows?
mOnksy: A few years later I began to learn Karate. There I was introduced to the Yawarra sticks, Nunchaku and a shuriken, when someone brought in a fossilised starfish one evening. But these only left me with a thirst for sharper and more pointy weapons. When I finally made it to college, I enrolled in a fencing class.
Greene: So it started there?
mOnksy: It may have started there but it never developed, for I only attended one class. I was 18 and prone to get distracted by other things. A few years passed before I came back to the martial arts, this time learning a little of Gung fu and Aikido. Although neither of these were very pointy activities, I did manage to keep my interest in weapons alive at home, with the cheese board and the bread knife.
Greene: So how did that all that bring you around to Tai Chi sword?
mOnksy: As I was becoming aware of the limits of kitchen training, I started exploring the intriguing depths of the internal arts. You have to remember the context of the mid-1980’s. Globally, it appeared that Reagan and Thatcher were intent on bringing down what little was left of our collective dreams for a better world, replacing concepts such as the social good with individual wealth and personal greed. To deal with this new world order, some sought refuge in Step-Aerobic classes and leg-warmers, others escaped by adopting the Internal Arts. I learnt different Tai Chi styles, including the 32 step combined Sword Form from Wen Lin Jun.
Sword for Beginners
Greene: It is said that the Sword is the Mother of all Arms and that it takes:
“100 days to dominate the Sabre
1000 days to dominate the Lance
10.000 days to dominate the Sword”
Yet you offer tuition to the uninitiated, when others say it should only be learnt after the empty hand Forms.
mOnksy: It’s true that some instructors do like to repeat these time scales. But once again, I and others believe that the sword has too much to offer to be left to advanced students only, and, I believe this advice on time scales and training order derives from times in which learning sword was a matter of life and death. Additionally, swords back then were sharp, not like the ones we train with now. Today, sword teaches other skills, in a way that the empty hand cannot. In my experience, students quickly gain confidence and are more motivated to finish. They feel less naked in the classroom and more equal with others of different skill levels. The sword is a great leveller. It matters less if your balance is not so great or your swirls are not so big. But it isn’t just me that thinks it is a good idea to teach all everyone irrespective of level…
Greene: Who else?
mOnksy: Well, Wen Lin Jun. He didn’t insist on me having done years of Tai Chi training before taking up sword, nor did he enrol me on a course of 10.000 days. Then there are people like Petra Kobayashi author of Classical Tai Chi Sword who said:
“It is not only the advanced Tai Chi student who can learn sword. Tai Chi sword is known in China as an independent path of exercise that doesn't necessarily require knowledge of the other forms of Tai Chi.”
And the encyclopaedic Michael P. Garofalo. We discussed by email a decade back about teaching sword. He was another that offered training to anyone interested.
Greene: But you can see why some other instructors may be worried that you offer to teach the uninitiated?
mOnksy: Not really. As I said before, we don't train with sharp blades. These are practice swords. They are blunt and harmless. A kitchen knife is far more lethal and easier to conceal. Anyway, I’m not offering a weekend teacher training certificate, nor Sifu-Status workshops. I’m offering a basis in sword handling that has little to do with stabbing or duelling, but more to do with tackling the strains and obstacles that arise in our daily life. It matters little if what you wield is a mop or a samurai sword, it's what lies beneath the lessons that are important: principles such as yielding and sticking, rooting and softness, that are understood and tested with greater clarity when using the Sword.
Why Sword is a Welcome Addition in the class
Greene: You said you were teaching Tai Chi before introducing Sword. How did you finally introduce the Sword into your classes?
mOnksy: I did it progressively. I had been teaching empty hand Tai Chi Forms in the UK and Spain for many years, when one week I brought into class 20 bamboo poles I had cut down from the rivers-edge that morning. This was a cheap way to introduce the use of weapon training and a bamboo staff is, at the beginning, more user-friendly than a sword.
Greene: How did they react?
mOnksy: Initially they looked bemused, but curious. Then, within a few weeks, they grew to love it. Over time, we exchanged the bamboo poles for wooden tai chi practice swords.
Greene: Young people do like to play with weapons
mOnksy: These were not youngsters. The average age in my Sword class was 55- 75 plus.
Greene: Well, some men do get excited about such things. It is the age group that buy fast motorbikes as a way of handling their middle aged crisis.
mOnksy: Possibly. I couldn’t say. My class was 99% women.
mOnksy: Anyway, to my surprise they all embraced the Sword. Even those students who had just begun their Tai Chi training. Attendance and class satisfaction remained higher in the sword classes than in the empty hand classes. The exercises and the partner work seemed to encourage greater participation, energy levels and enthusiasm to attend. Either that or people just liked walking down the street with a sword on their backs, like an Urban Ninja Turtle.
Greene: Are you saying the Sword Form doesn’t take 10.000 days to learn?
mOnksy: For beginners, the sword form has more exaggerated and less subtle postures, so in a way the moves are easier to identify and remember. It is a shorter form too, and if you relax, the momentum and swing of the moves can show you what to do. It’s as if the sword is directing you and not the other way round. Additionally, I have to say, that sword is just more fun. It’s promise (if not its practice) of danger makes it thrilling too, and people love to talk about it in the class, joke, laugh and in doing so relax more. Personally, I believe this is the secret to effectively learning - encourage a greater sense of play in the class.
Online Sword Work
Greene: Other than a local class, you are now teaching sword as an online course. What convinced you that the sword, with its complexities and classroom challenges, could be taught in this way?
mOnksy: After having offered a number of other courses online these last few years, I was asked by a number of students to consider offering sword. So that’s what I have done. Yes, of course there are some limitations to online learning, but there are also advantages too.
Greene: What advantages are there to learning sword online?
mOnksy: The same pros and cons that exist for all online courses. Although you don’t get to train with a partner or a group (you can of course do the course with one or more friends) the classes are much cheaper and more convenient. You can study when, where and how often you like. You get to see the form and techniques from all angles without people standing in front of you and blocking your view, and you get to repeat classes as often as you like. You get back-up materials, step-by-step photographic, audio, visual and written instructions. From the feedback so far, this course has turned out to the most popular to date.
What can Sword Teach us?
Greene: You often write about the anachronism of the martial arts, with their need to update their aims and practices. How does sword fighting fit into this overview?
mOnksy: I’ve argued that there needs to be another emphasis with the martial arts for lots of different reasons, not solely to do with effectiveness or not on the street. Today, more instructors attempt to balance these aims in their classes, but we still live in a world chronically out of balance. For most of us, we will never need to defend family or country with our fists or swords. We have a police force and an army for these things. We do, however still live in a world in which 5% of the population have everything whilst the rest of us bicker over the scraps under the table. The Chinese Boxers of the past and the great sword fighters of history come to mind as models for understanding and creatively responding to this imbalance.
Greene: Such as?
mOnksy: Spartacus and Robin Hood spring to mind. Or there is Syrio Forel - the Bravoss Dancer and the Witcher of more recent days. Even the Tao Te Ching is clear on this :
“The Tao of heaven is to take from this that have too much and give to those that do not have enough”
Greene: And Sword can help us do this?
mOnksy: Thats depends on how it is taught. A blade can teach us that was is sharp, can easily become blunt. It can help us in the coordination of mind and body, finding a balance of weight and purpose, and a focus on breath and harmony that many of the empty hand Tai Chi forms lack. Metaphorically, it helps cut away the veil of illusion that social media inserts on your time-line and enables us to focus on other things than the size of our weapons. (See track below). But, as I say, it depends on how it is taught.
Greene: Thanks for your time and unique perspective Mr. mOnk.
mOnksy: My pleasure Gerald.
SWORD EXTRAS: READ AND LISTEN
Tai Chi Sword challenges our own abilities
Since the online Sword course launched earlier this year, many people have issued me with the usual whatsapp challenges - blades at sunset sort of thing. This not only amuses me, but reminds me of the number of people that still believe traditional martial arts are about ferocity, notions of winning or superiority of technique or style. As many teachers far more capable than I have said: The idea behind all martial arts is not to defeat an opponent, but to challenge your own abilities.
The 2 types of Sword Practitioners
In the field of Tai Chi, this ideology has been keenly embraced by those wishing to focus on the softer, gentler and more harmonious practices of the art. When the time comes to begin sword study, these people physically recoil as though they were attendees at the Court of Transylvania and had been presented with tray of roasted garlic (yum, yum) or someone had opened a curtain and a ray of sunlight had struck their anaemic faces. To these people, just the thought of wielding a metal blade in the air is tantamount to publicly declaring violence as a principle to live by.
But there are others: The whatsapp duelists. Those that salivate over the use of any weapons and see them as essential tools in their arsenal for 21st century living. They collect things like exotic instruments of torture, stuffed wombats and hoard such nonsense on shelves in their underground bunkers, just next to their cans of long-life beans, survivalist manuals, camouflage pyjamas and maps for which countries they will rule the world once democracy has been finally reversed..
But for the rest of us, is there a saner perspective that nestles somewhere between the passive deferrers and the gnashing long-life milk reactionaries?
What are the goals of Tai Chi Sword Practice?
If we put turn down the arguments of those obsessed with invincibility and superiority, and instead listen to our humble inner voice, we will hear a quiet breath and little else. As the Taoists state: Once the rage has gone, the edges blunted from overuse, then the instruments become useless.
In sword classes, we start with blunt edges. We make no mistake that what we do will not count on the battlefield. Those delusions are for others to dream. We don't learn how to wield the weapon in order to slice flesh, study means of amputation, or develop a skill in stabbing. These are not only anachronistic goals,, but dubious ones in which to invest our precious time. So for what purpose do we practice the art of pointy objects?
We may only be using our swords for slicing hard cheese or, in the case of my blunt practice swords - dancing under the night sky as I perform Rhinoceros Gazes at the Moon or Green Dragon Emerges from the Lake. But these activities still have value. For this light-weight nimble sword was always a metaphor for cutting away the veil of illusion that hangs before our eyes. And what better time than right now, to be able to wield such a weapon? A weapon that teaches a coordination of mind and body, a balance of weight and purpose, a focus on breath and harmony that many of the empty hand Tai Chi forms lack. I believe this is related to the concept of "Swing and Momentum" that is seen in certain Yang styles.
Swing and Momentum in Tai Chi Sword Practice
This notion of swing and momentum refers to a way in which energy is employed in the body. Now, before you get carried away with notions of golden beams of light projected from the Dan Tien down into the blade (please keep such images for the movies) I'm referring to the bone, muscle and ligament structure that impels us forward and back or from side to side in an efficient a way as possible.
Obviously this structural lesson is used in empty hand Tai Chi Forms, but in the Sword, the extra weight and .size of the weapon we wield brings this concept alive.. We very quickly learn that by relaxing and listening to our body, we feel the turn, the transfer of weight, as the shoulder relaxes and the hips move back and forth. It is much more difficult to teach these concepts of feeling and sensation with empty hand stances. It is far easier for students to physically hold and then engage with the ideas when wielding an object in front of them. And that ever-evasive notion of RELAX (Watch the video) in Tai Chi is even easier to accomplish with the sword, for if not, our arms tire quickly, our shoulders ache and and body grows weary.
Practice with a light sword, not a heavy two-handed weighty blade. We practice not as a strength building exercise, but one of muscle memory, focus, attention and accuracy,
Want to develop strength? Go do some push.ups. Want to learn about grace, harmony and learn to cut rhough the veil of nonsense washing over the world? Pick up a Sword.
Find out more about the Tai Chi Sword Practice
Discover how to join the teapotmonk and start Learning Sword here - or download the guide here.
HOW TO START ANY MINDFUL PRACTICE
How do you start your own business, how do you start your car on a cold morning or even, how do you start each and every day?
In Tai Chi we are taught to start - as we mean to go on. But what does that mean? We obviously gather ourselves, check out weight, our position. But is there something else we are overlooking?
So today I want to ask you, before you begin your Tai Chi Form - irrespective of style or school, tradition or trouser length - what is it that you do?
I’m not talking about checking if your show is on correctly, your audience has quieted down, or your dinner has gone down. I’m not talking about ensuring that the crease in your satin suit is in the right place or that your eyebrows have been neatly combed into position.
I’m talking about before that very first posture, that initial move. Before the weight shifts. Before the limbs race ahead
Before the mind moves ahead, rehearsing what you are about to play out.
DID YOUR SIFU NEVER TELL YOU?
Hopefully s/he did. But if not - as it was for many, overlooked, skipped or simply left out of your shaolin training schedule - fear not. The teapotmonk is here to help with this handy check list for all those in search of the Perfect Form.
PLACES TO PUT YOUR LIST
Better still, remember the 5 points and pass them on to someone else.
If you get this right, you can leave behind the nonsense of geometry and angular precision taught incessantly and instead float above the noise, seamlessly fusing one move into another, navigating the twist and turns of the sinews as they propel you forward. The wind behind you, the sun on your face and you, merely watching and riding the breath.
THE TOP 5 CHECKLIST
Watch the video below and for more details about starting and finishing - check out the mOnks online training
Cycles of rest and activity are built into our DNA, yet it appears that we spend our lives fighting such confines. Is it time now, as we collectively teeter on the edge exhaustion, to finally embrace the Yin?
Why do we fear nothingness? Why do we avoid the hollow man, the dark and unknown places where non-doing and stillness reside? Why do we crave distraction from the emptiness outside and the emptiness within?
Some would argue that is more EFFICIENT to fill every moment, to be always occupied. It is an oft heard mantra: Better to be Busy, than be Bored. Yet, there exist cycles and rhythms in the world that show us another way. Rhythms that tell us another story of productivity, efficiency, balance and fulfilment. Because, though the odd choccy biscuit has its place on the dinner table of life, an exclusive serving of such sweets would challenge even the Board of the Sugar Industry (then again, maybe not).
But for those of us not dependant on the price of sugar stocks, only moments of nothingness can fulfil. For only in emptiness can we see the cycle of giving and taking.
GIVING AND TAKING
Whilst nature takes out time to rest, to incubate, to absorb, to reconnect with its own nature; we the wise ones, resist. Resistance, we tell ourselves, defines us, enables us, and reminds us that we, Homo Sapiens have the divine permission to rise up and challenge the rules nature dictates.
But in moments of silence, when the dark descends , when the battery-light fades, we are reminded once more of our our cosmic size and vulnerability. Only then, in the dark and the quiet, can we take out a moment to embrace the Yin.
WHERE DREAMS ARE FORGED
Olive trees do not fruit thought the year. An olive tree spends most of its life being quiet, resting, absorbing and then when ready, it flowers, fruits deliciously and then in an act of incredible generosity, gives everything it has away. Once it has achieved this, it returns to a state of rest once more. Perhaps that is why Olive trees live so long?
In this state of rest, the world is perceived afresh. Over time, new seeds are created and new dreams are born. Though an Olive tree may be within view of the sprinting Pine, it is never tempted to compete, instead it surrenders to the process and dictates of its own rhythm.
If we do not surrender to our own rhythms of stopping, of non-doing, then we live eternally craving distraction and we forget what and who we are. We imagine we are Pines when we are Olives. We forget our purpose. We forget our relationship with our own self as we are carried away, bobbing up and down helplessly on the stream of data that follows us into our thoughts. We lose the strength to turn down the eternal light, the notification hungry for our attention, even during our most intimate of conversations , even during our darkest of dreams.
Resist not this dark and quiet place when it comes knocking at your door, for it is what we have been looking for. It is our rhythm of breath and creativity, and with it, the breeding ground for new life.
SO EVERY NOW AND THEN CHOOSE
...to be quiet when others shout.
...to reach out, when others fall.
...to yield when others push
...to soften and unclench your fist
Do so, and in doing so others will learn they have nothing to lose
For the world will still turn
WHAT IF...THE VIDEO
We are a small group exploring these cycles of light and dark, rest and activity, in the new online course with the teapotmonk. Find out more - take a look at the intro vids and course details here and join us.