Did you forget where you put your tai chi?

I looked for my glasses. Only a moment before I had recalled that I was not wearing them. I often take them off to read and then forget where I tossed them last. I gazed at the clutter on the desktop. Papers, printer, power cords, headset, computer. No glasses. I got up and searched the kitchen, living room, bedroom. No glasses. Bathroom. No glasses. I couldn’t recall where I was when I put them down. I returned to the desk.

There they were tangled up in the headset wires. I had looked straight at them before I got up to find them. I was thinking that I was looking rather than actually perceiving what I was looking at. I’m not sure why that happens, but it happens often enough to draw attention to itself.

This similar thing happens in taiji. We think we’re doing something, say, like what the teacher is asking or showing. But we’re actually not. This quirk in our behavior has to do with how we use our powers of perception, how we see what we are doing, or how we focus our attention.

One thing happening, I believe, is we too often don’t really let go of concerns that are holding us back from performing to our fullest in any given activity. One of my favorite activities, taiji, is a method of gradually breaking those tethers our worries have on us. Our habits of thought, of feeling, of action.

It amazes me when people tell me they don’t have time for tai chi, especially when I know that it is the one thing they should make time for more than anything else. Tai chi is like the thing I am looking for when it is right in front of me and I don’t see it.

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