Yesterday morning, I attended a Tai Chi class. A few weeks ago I was at a writer's conference and sat next to a lady that seemed nice. (Not all writers do, you know. :0) ) So I started up a conversation and discovered that she teaches Tai Chi. So I decided to try it a couple of weeks ago.
I love it.
Tai Chi is that slow type of martial arts looking movement that you might see in China at the park each morning. A slew of folks line up, (it’s a regimented practice) and move. The movements are deliberate and beautiful. And definitely not as easy as they look.
My teacher Diedre encourages us to not compare ourselves with anyone else in class and to go at our own pace. I rely on this.
One of our routines is to practice deep breathing. I love this. My Pop, Walker, taught me to breathe deeply years ago. He noticed that his youngest was the most dramatic of his four and along with that, the most likely to stress out about every little thing that interrupted the course of my day. So, he taught me to breathe.
“Pretend that when you’re blowing out you’re making tunnels of air. See them in your mind and make ‘em as perfect as you can. You do this, Cotton Top, (I used to be white blond) and with each breath out you’ll make that stress leak out of you.”
At 48 years of age, I finally know that dealing with stress is an essential part of taking care of my health. The world is so much more joyful a place to be if I learn to just LET IT GO. Breathing helps. Tai Chi helps.
Yesterday morning, I had to mail two letters. I hate to go to the post office but it was on my way back after Tai Chi, so I told myself it wouldn’t take but a minute to slip them into the outside box. When I pulled up to the box, I discovered that my letters had no stamps. Darn!
I parked and went in to find a long line. Just let it go. No biggie. I’m in no hurry.
When I got up to the front of the line (this took a while) the post office experienced a momentary power outage. After the lights came on, we were informed that it would take a “little while” for the computers to boot up again. I looked behind me and observed the level of stress this brought about to each person. One woman huffed and left the line, making sure she let the employees know of her dissatisfaction in the system. Two strangers started talking about it, both laughed and then they started talking about something else. A cameraderie formed in the midst of the post office line struggle. A man made a phone call and said loudly to whoever, “Well, it may be a while.”
As for me, I looked at the lady behind me and grinned and shrugged my shoulders. This is an international symbol for letting it go.
And then I breathed. In and out. It occurred to me that this was one of those moments in which I can add to the health and joy of my life, or I can squeeze my heart with stress. It’s a choice.
The lady behind me said tersely, “I have to be outta here to get back to my job in three minutes.”
I replied, “Why don’t you go next?”
“No, no, that’s not why I said that.”
“Please let me do this. I’m not working.”
“Okay. Thank you!”
At this point one of the employees waved her over. Then his computer failed to reboot correctly and he told her it’d be a while. She huffed and left. Oh well.
I’m not saying I’m all Yoda or the Dalai Lama or Jesus about life. I get impatient. Plenty.
But yesterday, I took care of me. I did it by breathing. By extending kindness. By letting it go.
I feel great.