Sunday, March 10, 2013

Looking Back, Inward, Foward

Sas Stark

Looking back

What an interesting and evolutionary 12 months this last year has been, not just for me, but for the school and everyone who has been able to attend. Personally 2012 has been all about adding focus and intent to my tai chi practice. You would never guess at the scope of change focusing on one tiny “intent” could bring. By honing in (on the point at the tip of my sword, the desire to grow, and the desire to define my art and practice) and delving deeper into my familiar and comfortably safe practice, I find myself in a delicious new place.
Intent came into play again when I put my tai chi purpose into words, crafting another layer of focus. These guiding ideas infused my practice while I shared the beauty and power of nature with anyone looking to explore. Saturday mornings came alive.
Tai chi practice in Welles Park was ever changing. From weather, to attendance, to little league, or a carnival, and the energy just kept flowing. We deeply rooted to place, and were able to joyfully express our gratitude by volunteering at the Montrose Beach Dunes one hot August day. After clearing Cottonwood seedlings we found the perfect grove of trees for an tai chi practice nestled among sand and grass next to the Lake Michigan shore. This energetically juicy spot holds promise for outdoor gatherings in our future.
The wrap to my very full summer came at the Dragon painting event at Ravenswood Art Walk. The “Paint Off” between tai chi brother Chris Zalek and I was won with Chris’s entry of, “Trogdor, the burninator!” Who knew there was a Dragon buried deep inside that gentile sheep.

Looking inward

With all this attention to focus and intent, I discovered an inner discernment and voice for my practice. You will notice that the best observer of your intent is your Self. Typically (not at this school) learning and competency are gauged through comparison with others in class, yet understanding your challenge with intent needs no comparison, only your own judgement and evaluation. Building this inner awareness and evaluation process really opened the channel for a deeper inner dialogue for me and I have been able to slowly change my inner critic into the voice of an inner champion.
I encourage you to invite the supreme judge to weigh in on your practice by scheduling a private with Elizabeth to receive her sage advice and her laser like scrutiny. In the mean time, try building this self sustaining/perpetuating awareness and evaluation ability into your internal practice. You will like who you meet there.

Looking forward

I have two ideas for our coming year.
First, I’d like to invite you to a new class I will be teaching in the new year. Look for announcements about a Wednesday morning class featuring the Chen Man-ch’ing 37 posture form. This short form practice is grounded foundationally in the postures we practice here at the school, with slight variations. Begin your Wednesday with a simplified and invigorating practice. I look forward to sharing this with all you morning people (you know who you are), so please stay tuned for details.
Secondly, I’d like to invite you to join in an outdoor practice with me throughout the Winter months. I plan to find at least one Saturday or Sunday each month to take our tai chi to the lakefront, or to a park or perhaps a location you suggest. Check for postings on the school facebook page and at the school where I will announce the events. You will look at Winter in Chicago in a whole new way.

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