The Lighter Side by Sharon Sirkis

Longtime T’ai Chi Chih teacher Sharon Sirkis has been observing and sharing in The Vital Force the Lighter Side expressed by her TCC students since 1999. Enjoy!

When I announced the next movement, Daughter in the Valley, one of the ladies at the Senior Center started singing “Down in the Valley.” This resulted in the whole group singing along! (Except for me, I didn’t know the words.)

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After a discussion of how habit is the enemy of old age, I encouraged the members of Aspenwood Senior Living Community to try something new. “I’m going to keep poking at some of you to try new things,” I said.

One spry lady lit up and said, “I’m reading a book about how they’re poking an elephant and making it bleed.”

“Does that mean I need to stop poking at you?” I asked.

“No,” she said, “You need to bleed us some more!” (She still retains her sense of humor from her days as a police officer).

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A student called and said she couldn’t attend tonight’s class. She confessed that she hadn’t done her practice that day (she practices regularly), and that she could really feel the difference it made. As she went on to share how edgy she felt, she suddenly broke into laughter. “I just felt my neck,” she said, “And I just noticed I’ve put my shirt on backwards!”

Sometimes I’ll equate the movements with everyday life. I taught Push Pull at a Senior Center and said, “What do you want to push away or get rid of?” Without missing a beat, one gentleman said loudly, “My wife!” (The most common answer is aches and pains, but this got a good laugh.)

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At the end of class, I encourage students to sit still and ground the Chi. “Be aware of what’s happening in your body,” I said. After a few seconds one guy said, “The only thing I’m aware of right now is my bladder.”

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Guest speaker Sharm Sinkis was listed in a newsletter where I was to present T’ai Chi Chih. Yes, that’s me they’re talking about.

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After playing telephone tag, I finally spoke to a student who was interested in taking my class. He was frustrated that we couldn’t touch base sooner and said, “I decided to bag it.” So I said, “Well, can you unbag it or re-bag it?” He paused and said, “Well, I guess I could.” He took the class and it helped him a great deal.

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During my accreditation at Carmel Retreat in Mahwah, New Jersey (July 1997), I tried to strike up a conversation with someone, unaware that he was on the last five days of a silent retreat. (He was very nice when he told me this.)

Grounding is the first thing I always do with my students at the beginning of TCC class. I often sound like a broken record as I continue to mention it during and after the class as well. One morning, I arrived late to my 9am class, as there was a bus accident and the traffic was backed up for miles. I was stressed out about being late,(I’m always early), mainly worrying about my students having to wait for me. When I finally arrived, Ruth, 75 and spry, picked up on my hurried state of mind. She said to me, “Take your time…Get yourself grounded.”  This cracked me up and definitely helped calm me down.

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One playful TCC class decided to make up their own 6 Healing Sounds.

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Before TCC class, I reminded everyone to turn off their phones. Many students reached into their pockets or bags and turned them off. During class, I heard a phone ring, which confused me since I thought all phones were turned off. Nataska apologized profusely as she reached into her bra and turned off her phone.

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At the last TCC class, I play “Show and Tell.” This is where I ask the student to think about the best thing they got out of the class, and then bring in an item that demonstrates that, and then tell how it relates to TCC. Howard brought in a jigsaw puzzle. He opened up the box, picked up many pieces, and then let them drop back into the box. He said that those pieces were like his individual thoughts, scattered and stressful. Then he put the lid back on the box to reveal the beautiful puzzle picture, and said that after his T’ai Chi Chih practice, that he could see the big picture. He said, “I relax more, and see how things fit together.”


Stay tuned as we add more anecdotes to this page.

Published On: September 25th, 2020Categories: Articles by Teachers and Students

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