Family History: Tai chi and Fear

Tai-chi Graphic“What makes us stiff,” my Tai chi teacher asked.

He was looking at me, or, self-consciously, I thought he was looking at me. As a class, we were trying to learn the spin near the end of the short Yang form. It hadn’t been going well.

“Fear,” he said, answering his own question.

Besides feeling old and awkward, I was barefoot that day. Should have worn socks, I told myself, when I realized my feet were sticking to the floor, slowing my spin. Actually, I was afraid my feet were going to squeak as I turned. I wanted to go home and practice in private–where I wouldn’t embarrass myself.

A child doesn’t think like that. A child would get caught up in the idea of spinning, and just spin.

Called “tranquility in motion,” Tai chi consists of a series of slow movements that burn more calories than surfing, swimming, or downhill skiing. It is supposed to  reduce stress, improve balance, and lower blood pressure–all measures of built-up fear.

How do I end this story?

With a spin . . .

“Don’t try to turn from up top, using the arms,” my teacher said. “That way, you lose your balance. Keep yourself rooted down low and just go round . . ”

So I did.



Filed under Family Stories, Funny story, Life Story, New Story, Personal Narrative

4 responses to “Family History: Tai chi and Fear

  1. Your description of tai-chi is very different from the warrior image I’ve always carried. When I can, I try to do an early-morning TV exercise program called “Classical Stretch,” a fusion of several discipline. The main element borrowed from tai-chi is “the tai-chi squat,” different from the ballet plie and the regular old Amer’can gym squat. I’m intrigued by your words.

  2. I know what you mean about learning to spin. We spin in hoopdance, and I find it much easier in socks on a slippery floor! Don’t forget to spin the other way to unwind if you get dizzy. ;-D

  3. What a coincidence! Just yesterday I was thinking about fear and little kids. Do babies question themselves: “What if I can’t learn to walk? What if I fall down too much?” Of course they don’t! And we adults should also approach life with a certain measure of confidence in our innate abilities.

  4. That reminds me of the instructor in Krav Maga telling me (and other students, including a very buff fireman) to relax as we were about to spar with him. Being tense didn’t help anything, he suggested. It was hard for me to relax because I was afraid of looking uncoordinated, but he was right.

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