Line Dancing, Chi and Me

Clipboard01Many years ago, I took a class in Transcendental Meditation.   I spent several weeks sitting in a room with several eternally smiling teachers who talked to us about the benefits of meditation and the technique, which pretty much came down to mentally repeating a mantra (my very own secret one) and not trying too hard to keep my concentration there.   Not trying.   A foreign concept for me.  For several years I meditated twice a day and since then I have tried to include meditation as part of my daily practice.   Oddly, as I get older, I find it harder to sit down and doline dancing nothing (my Inner Engineer’s description of meditation). Many years ago, too, I was at a country music venue and tried line dancing with my wife, Muri.  Some pseudo-cowgirl was teaching the steps and Muri picked up the half a dozen steps right away.  Me?  When the instructor said, OK, let’s try it all together, I only had two steps down.  I have since avoided line dancing like the plague.    If there is anything harder for me than not trying, it is trying and looking foolish.

So, why this odd juxtaposition of meditation and line dancing?   At my Thursday night men’s meeting, I was talking to a new friend, Robin, about my difficulties in sticking with meditation.  He said, You should try chi gong.  I teach a class in it on TuesdaysChi gong, he explained, means energy work and is a predecessor to tai chi, a series of simple movements that have thesensei same benefits as meditation.   I told him about my misadventures with line dancing and said I was concerned I’d disrupt his class because I learn steps so slowly.  He said, Don’t worry.  It’s a small class and I’ll be able to give you personal attention.  So, I found myself at Boti Studios taking a chi gong class.   The class was indeed small … myself and one woman who is part owner of the studio.  Things went fine for a while until Robin taught us a long form consisting of six or eight consecutive moves, then said, OK you do while I watch.   I don’t think so.  It was like line dancing hell again but he did spend the time with me until I could at least approximate the whole long form.

chiI have now been doing chi gong virtually every morning for three or four weeks.  I have gotten to the point where I don’t have to use my cheat sheet to get through all the forms.  See?  That’s why no line dancing for Older Eyes.  Who wants to dance with a cowboy who keeps checking his cheat sheet?   Then there’s that business of not trying.   Robin told me, Just relax and not try to get it perfect,  My sensei told me you will only get right once in 10,000 times, so stop trying.  It’s taken a while but I find it easier not to try when I’m going through the forms than sitting in one place trying not to think.  I’ve also had to get my Inner Engineer to shut up about the talk of scooping chi (energy) and pouring it over my head or breathing chi through my hands and feet into energy centers residing somewhere in my body.   Most of the movements are gracefully and rhythmic but a few are odd looking, something my grandkids were only to happy point out by laughing at me.  But here’s the deal.   Chi gong greatly reduces the morning stiffness or aches in this old body.   A nagging shoulder injury seems to getting better where physical therapy didn’t help.  I feel stronger, my balance is much better and the practice seems to relax me like meditation did.   So, I’m sticking with it.

I’ll pass along perhaps the most useful thing I’ve learned in the last 20 years, a corollary to the old adage, If it’s not broken, don’t fix it.  That is:

If it works, you don’t have to understand it.
Just do it.

 

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