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"We get best at what we practice most." You want to live a long and vibrant life? Then you have to practice the habits that lead to longevity and vibrancy. You have to practice balancing inner peace and outer action. I created TaijiFit because Tai Chi is the perfect way to practice longevity, vibrancy, balance and harmony. And TaijiFit is the perfect way to practice Tai Chi.
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This year we are holding our first Taijiathon on World Tai Chi Day to support the Coalition of Hemophilia B, in conjunction with our amazing instructor Rick Starks, and our soon to be newly anointed instructor Cassie Starks. I hope you take time out on April 25th to join us LIVE ONLINE, to celebrate life, happiness and wellness. This event will include, door prizes, Natural Wellness Product Information from NYR, and of course Taiji Classes. All you need is a computer, ipad or smart phone to join in. Learn a little Taiji, support a worthwhile cause, and celebrate with others around the world in this amazing art form. Register at daviddorianross.com/events I hope to see you there.
Join me and my lovely partner in a gentle game of push hands. Live and Online we will demonstrate an interesting way to get acquianted with your partner again, using this ancient art of Tai Chi. To Register and find out more go to https://taijifit.net/master-classes-and-workshops/ to find out more!!!
Most of the time, a thought for the day in our classes is accompanied by a commentary – a perspective on how that quotation is relevant to our practice of Taiji, and our pursuit of Balance and Harmony. But I think this quotation is quite complete, and needs no embellishment from me.
I wish that your dreams will never end
and I wish you the fierce desire to realize some of them.
I wish you to love what shall be loved
and to forget what shall be forgotten.
I wish you silences.
I wish you bird songs when you wake up
and the children’s laughter.
I wish you to resist stalemate, indifference, negative virtues of our time.
I wish you most of all to be you.
– Jacques Brel
This weekend, as I always do, I was putting together a new playlist for New Music Monday. And, as often happens, I found myself listening to old school R&B and Soul. I grew up with this music, and it’s probably my favorite genre. The Righteous Brothers, Ben E. King, Aretha, and of course The Godfather of Soul James Brown!
Soul is a word that I use a lot as a noun. For me (and in our teachings) Soul is synonymous with our Authentic Self – our original, eternal and “un-conditional” nature. In Chinese it’s called P’u – the “uncarved block.” But I also use Soul as an adjective to describe things or people or events. Soul food, Soul music, Soul surfing, for instance. Soul kissing. As my Pop used to say about certain people, “That cat’s got Soul.”
Thomas Moore writes about this in his book, Care of the Soul. “Soul is not a thing,” he writes, “but a quality or a dimension of experiencing life and ourselves. It has to do with depth, value, relatedness, heart and personal substance.” But Moore also suggests that for many people a firm definition of Soul is hard to pin down. “When we say that someone or something has Soul, we know what we mean, but it is difficult to specify exactly what that meaning is.”
But I can tell you what it is – it is the memory of the nature of your Authentic Self. Those things that you would say have Soul are reminding you of your Soul. I think we are often drawn to those things that have Soul in times when we have forgotten or disconnected from our authentic self – which means we have been operating from the ego. The opposite end of the spectrum. Some part of us is longing to reconnect to the Soul and see the world clearly and lovingly again. But – and here’s the lesson – in the depths of our ego we are not even aware of our disconnect. Something has to remind us that we have forgotten the Soul in order to remember it again.
And that’s the function of Soul food, Soul music, Soul kissing and cats and kittens with Soul. That is the function of Taiji, and the moments of Flow. Taiji Flow definitely has Soul. It reminds us of our true selves. That’s why I am passionate about coming back day after day and getting into Flow with all of you. I can often see the moment when you “remember,” and in that moment a beautiful light shines through. The light of your Soul.
So I’m curious: what is it in your life that means Soul to you? I’d love to know – share it in the “Comments” section below.
And… thank you.
(First in the series on how to have extraordinary relationships.)
Imagine that you went to a special new restaurant – the Relationship Restaurant – where you could order any kind of relationship you wanted. After sitting down at the table, the waiter brings you a menu and you notice that there are three columns to order from.
The first column contains “relationships that suck” – negative, destructive, draining and toxic relationships. The ones we look back on a say, “I am so glad I’m not in that relationship anymore. I’ll never do that again!” (Yet we often do – but that’s for another post.) These relationships are high maintenance, full of highs and lows, bewildering and chaotic.
The second column lists “normal” relationships. These relationships also have their ups and downs, but in a less destructive way. These are the relationships that overall we are happy in and glad to have. There is an opportunity for true love, companionship and family – but don’t always push us to grow into a different person. They are… normal.
But when we look at the third column, we see that it is the menu of “Extraordinary Relationships.” Epic. Legendary. Larger-than-life. (I call them “The Princess Bride” kind of relationships.) These relationships magnify the love that each individual brings to the partnership; they push the people in the relationship (whether intimate, family or community) to grow and self-actualize and accomplish greater deeds or express a deeper level of Soul; and they serve as an inspiration for others to aspire to the heights of love. You are tempted to think that the relationships in this column of the menu must be impossible for normal people to order – too expensive or too difficult to find.
But then the waiter says, “If I may, we always point out that you may order from any column on the menu. All of the relationships here take exactly the same amount of time to prepare and serve, and they all cost you the same amount.”
Now… which column would you like to order from?
Last Wednesday I attended the kickoff event for a new organization called Peace Now! and I got a chance to see the trailer for a documentary called Beyond Right and Wrong – Stories of Justice and Forgiveness by filmmaker Rekha Singh. The film follows victims of terrible violence – lone survivors of genocide of entire communities, children of assassinated politicians and more – as they are brought together with their oppressors and their families’ murderers – for the purpose of Forgiveness.
In every case, the victims of violence started out with a predictable set of thoughts and emotions: “I am angry, I am hurt, I am sad all the time, I am filled with the spirit of vengeance – and I cannot even think about letting any of that go. I want Retribution! I want revenge.” But Oh – what a transformation takes place when someone chooses the path of forgiveness instead. In the film we see both victims and victimizers begin to finally see each other as human beings. They weep together, they express the rawness of their pain – and finally they replace the anger and the shame, the righteousness and the defensiveness, with connection, understanding and even love. New lives are made possible for the individuals, and new futures for entire nations.
During the panel discussion that took place after the movie, a lot of people were talking about “the act of forgiveness.” But here’s the thing: forgiveness is not actually a singular event or one-time action. Forgiveness is not like a light switch that you can switch over to find peace and let go of hatred. Forgiveness must be an on-going process. It’s a practice that you have to re-establish every day.
In traditional Hawaiian culture there is a ritual called Ho’oponopono. It’s usually translated as a ritual of reconciliation and forgiveness. But another possible way of translating ho’oponopono is “a return to harmony.”
Ho’oponopono is a ritual that sometimes goes on for days or weeks, can involve an entire clan (not just two individuals) and might be repeated annually! Because the LOSS of Flow and Balance – the loss of pono – is thought to be the cause of illnesses, of stress and strife, of violence, of disconnection, of the breakdown of families and the loss of fortune. Without forgiveness, there is no Pono – there is no harmony. Anger, resentments, righteousness and desire for retribution keep you stuck in an out-of-control cycle of unconscious reactions. These emotions and reactions are deadly Flow Killers.
Forgiveness, however, is a Flow Reviver.
On the days when it feels like nothing is working, and the world is throwing stuff at you faster than you can fend it off, and the Qi just isn’t flowing, try this: there are places, people and events in your life that need forgiveness. And you forgive not necessarily to benefit them… the forgiveness is for YOU. When you make forgiveness a regular practice you get better at it. It becomes more natural and authentic, the same way your Taiji becomes more fluid and effortless the more you practice. Once is not enough – it takes repetition and rehearsal. In other words, forgiveness is not a singular act. It is an on-going habit – a quality to make part of your lifestyle.
We all have them. Persistent annoyances that seem to bother us more than they bother others – or that bother us more than the situation might warrant. Drivers who drive slow in the left lane. People (who shall remain nameless) who leave the cap off the toothpaste.
Pet Peeves are a special category of our unconscious reaction/response to stress habits – with a special added twist. We get to blame the situation or the person for our responses, especially our emotions. As in “People who leave the cap off the toothpaste make me so MAD!” But the truth is other people are not to blame for our emotions, reactions and responses. Taiji teaches us an important distinction between a trigger and a cause. Our pet peeves may trigger our reactions (yer darn tootin’!) – be we have the power to choose our responses. We are the cause of our eventual behavior.
Long story short – Pet Peeves are a Flow Killer. Actually they’re a double Flow Killer because they not only disrupt my own Flow but they also cut me off from a whole category of experiences or human beings who might otherwise enrich my life. Taiji teaches us that how we habitually do one thing has a tendency to be how we habitually do everything. If you have a couple of known Pet Peeves that you admit – then you may have twice as many secret and hidden pet peeves. For every taxi driver or turn signal abuser that you blame for your road rage, there is a secret blame that you harbor against a loved one, a co-worker or next door neighbor. Little by little, they eat away at the relationship.
By the way – best comment yet on Pet Peeves (courtesy of Kristen Onderdonk): “I used to have a pet peeve but I forgot to feed it and it died!”