I cannot even begin to describe to you just how much of an impact that Tai Chi has had on my life since starting back in early April 2013. But this blog will hopefully get there in the end.
I have always toyed with the idea that I would like to do it. But true to form, I was to busy, too tired, too late, too early… you get the picture, and never followed through with it. But during and then after my chemo treatment I had my myotherapist telling me about Tai Chi. My mind was certainly struggling and so I ducked and weaved until finally one day I just knew that I had to do something because my body was beginning to resemble a statue and it was a difficult and slow way to live and get about – all brought on my treatment and ovary removal. I was living with frequent “penguin days” (because I could only waddle about and looked just a little too much like a penguin). I thought that from what I had seen of it, it looked gentle and easy and surely even I could do it!!
Surprising Results ! (not surprising any longer but I marvel at it each and every day)
I had gone from a position that required me to be turned on to a dozen items at once and always on duty or available 24 hours a day to undergoing a dead stop and chemo just for good measure. My mind was unable to focus and was easily distracted and forgot many things as quickly as they were thought. But almost immediately with each class I attended and learned just a little bit more of the 1st form, which I then took home and practiced and practiced and practiced (did I say practiced ??) I found that I was in the moment. My mind began to have a clarity and a purpose and vision that I had lost, but really, it was way more than that, I am hesitant to call it a spiritual feeling of wellness and centering but really, it is the best way that I can describe it. Oh and note to self: Thinking that Tai Chi was as easy as standing there and copying the teacher was the single most ignorant and ill-informed thing that I have thought in a very, very long time . It is actually really very challenging and it was just what I was looking for to focus and get moving and already since starting a couple have come and not continued because it was not for them.
My body found it difficult and painful but it just felt right. With each section of the form it always started off feeling as if I was a 100mtr sprinter running 400mtrs to get there. As this subsides and all of a sudden the body is happily and automatically flowing through the movements you know it is beginning to set in your mind and the body begins to draw strength and the ability to move. The amazing thing was that before class I would stretch out just so I could undertake the class. During the class the concentration that I now had was allowing me to free my body from the stiffness and pain and flow (not too well in the beginning but move none the less). Each week seemed a little easier with only some days in full-blown penguin mode. But I did not give up, I persisted and without even realising it have created a new and improved strength and stamina that I have not had in ages.
This became extremely apparent when my feet were at a stage where I thought that perhaps I could start walking again (had not been able to due to peripheral neuropathy in both feet – interesting to say the least). When I had tried last time I was only able to hobble about 300 mtrs before becoming very fatigued and forced to head for home. But this time was different, my legs were on board with me and within a week was walking 2.3kms and at an average of 13 mins per km..
I give credit to Tai Chi for improved brain function, memory and clarity, improvement in strength and stamina and best of all my body is functioning better and better each week.. It is only by a small amount, but it is there. Each time I undertake a session, my whole body flows and you can feel the energy from within. Even on the coldest day, by the end of the first form (first direction) I have taken off any extra clothing and am quite hot. This means it is working well. It has allowed me to begin to expand the type of exercise and activities that I undertake and even my Oncologist is extremely pleased that I took up Tai Chi.
I have finally found something that I will be doing every single day for the rest of my life (if I am really lucky, I will be about 95 when I stop) 10 out of 10 for Tai Chi 🙂
I am beginning to explore what the Chinese credit Tai Chi with for health benefits rather than just looking at it as purely an exercise class. I am embracing more and more of the Eastern ideas and merging it with my Western one. The two are a perfect partner when the best of both are combined. The body, mind and spirit balance is beginning to really come together. This exploration has led me to Acupuncture but that is a story for another blog.