Skating on Thin Ice

From aiding recovery after two knee replacements to guiding a student navigating “on thin ice,” Tai Chi Chih aids in balance and in moving through life a little more smoothly.

“TCC Appears in Everyday Action”

by CW, Tupelo, Mississippi

A competent young orthopedic surgeon recommended T’ai Chi Chih as a resource in my recovery from a total knee replacement four years ago, and reiterated the recommendation after a second such surgery on the companion knee two years later. I’m pleased I followed his advice. TCC was unknown to me when I wandered into my first class simply seeking better physical balance. Since then, through participation in weekly classes and practice at home, not only has my physical balance improved nicely, but I also have received enhanced mental, emotional and spiritual balance.

I’m now beginning to have experiences where TCC principles become useful in my everyday life. During the recent extended absence of my companion, I had such an occasion. In her stead I had agreed to take over the morning chore of feeding wild birds that flock from the woods adjacent to our rural house. Before leaving, she demonstrated to me the careful spreading of birdseed along wooden railings that surround three sides of our exposed rear deck.

As I approached the first morning of my new bird feeding duties, I found myself standing on the deck covered in a sheet of ice. However, thanks to the practice of TCC, I remained calm and breathed deeply. It came to me that my body knew how to safely execute the required action.

I slowly sank down and placed all of my weight into my left leg. I then moved my right foot in a small sideways step and glided to my right side, placing all of my weight into my right leg. After moving my left leg alongside my right, I sank down again and began the feeding, distributing seed. Before each succeeding step I confirmed that all weight had fully shifted to the receiving, substantial leg before moving. I successfully repeated this maneuver along the entire perimeter of the icy deck, and when I completed the seed distribution I’m certain I could hear the observing birds rejoicing in the woods. Joy through movement, perhaps.

For me, this fulfilling experience underscored two of the primary TCC principles – focusing in the soles of the feet and shifting the weight correctly. Knowledge of how to move properly was essential on that frigid morning. While literally on thin ice, my body had been grounded securely during the bird feeding process. I’m more balanced and centered in my physical body movements than ever, and for that I am grateful to TCC and for the caring instruction and support of my teachers.

Reprinted with permission from the May 2015 issue of the Tai Chi Chih journal, The Vital Force.

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Justin Stone’s

Spiritual Odyssey

Selected Writing 1985-1997