The impressive resumes of the people who learn tai chi with me makes me grateful that they are part of the effort to bring such an effective exercise system into our community. Their presence in class makes teaching rewarding. Their efforts to learn something new when they are such accomplished experts in their own fields is especially heartening.
They are professionals and students of a wide range of ages, incomes, educational backgrounds and life experiences. I’m especially honored by each one of them. Right now you will find a GIS mapmaker, a physical therapist, an IT systems analyst for a city, a mountaineer and EMT, an animal hospital nurse, a very active retired husband and wife in their mid-seventies, a massage therapist who specializes in Rolfing and who has four kids, an accountant who also owns and manages a popular toy store. They are extremely busy individuals, but they find the 1-3 hours a week to fit tai chi classes into their schedules. Some of them are perfectly healthy, and others who are experiencing health challenges, such as arthritis, fibromyalgia and heart disease, deserve credit for taking bold steps to rebuild their health and hopefully prevent further complications.
In a way it takes a lot of faith to view tai chi as a preventative self-help/healthcare activity, but nowadays plenty of science-based evidence makes that a pretty sure bet. I’ve seen it in my life and in the lives of many others. As they say, “Seeing is believing.” Plus, we in class feel the positive results everytime we practice. We feel better after a practice session. The evening class is special. Exhaustion of the day’s work is gone and we are simultaneously relaxed and re-energized with physical, mental, and emotional renewal.
The fact that these individuals are part of the tai chi community reflects something special about both them and tai chi. They’re not afraid to place themselves in the sometimes awkward position of learning something new, tai chi in this case, because they know and enjoy how it stimulates the brain and the body in positive and constructive ways.
If you do anything related to tai chi, be sure to make attending class a priority. I provide instructional videos for learners, which are very useful for in-home practice in conjunction with group practice; but, regular practice over time with fellow practitioners helps immensely, particularly if you ever need mending from an injury or illness, or simply with aging itself.
Tai chi is preventative and participatory by nature, so take a hint from these wonderful professionals who have made it part of their busy lives as they engage in an activity they can do now to address many issues they may have in the future. Just think. They may very well not have issues just because they are doing tai chi now.