By Sorcha Hegarty
One of the things tai chi class can help with is becoming more grounded. Being grounded means being connected. Connected to your body, to its rhythms and needs; connected to the earth, and to what’s happening in the world around you; and connected to the present moment.
I am not a person one could ever accuse of being grounded.
I stay up too late. Show me a good book or film, and I could easily stay up all night, putting aside my tiredness until the sky starts to brighten and I’m suddenly reminded of what a struggle it’s going to be to get through the day on an hour’s shut-eye.
I can go all day without eating, skipping breakfast and working through lunch, sustaining myself on cups of tea, and then suddenly realizing that I’m famished, and reaching for the first thing I can find.
I can go days without proper exercise. Shut up in my home office, buried in projects, only emerging to run to the shops. Feeling the restless, twitchy energy building up in me, but convincing myself that I’m too tired to do anything today.
I can walk miles without seeing a step, because my mind is on work, or on worries. I can talk to a friend and never hear a word they say, because I’m waiting for my turn to speak.
And for years, I never really noticed this. Or if I did, I thought it was an indelible part of my personality, not something I could or wanted to change.
I was walking home from tai chi class last week, and the sun was bright and the breeze was fresh, and I wasn’t thinking about anything at all except how nice a day it was, and the feel of my feet on the ground. And I realized that I can’t remember the last time I stayed up too late. When my body gets tired, and my mind starts to fog, I turn off the computer and go to bed. When I’m hungry, I notice it and eat something. When I see friends, I listen to them with full attention, enjoying our time together.
Tai chi class was a big part of this shift, and practicing what I’d learned at home helped even more. Somewhere over the last few years of tai chi, and later qi gong, the lessons about focusing on the body, on the movements, on the breath, started to sink in.
It didn’t happen over night. This change in my life happened like the movements of a tai chi set: slowly, gracefully, and with unexpected power.
© Sorcha Hegarty, 2014