Hard to believe it’s already been 1 year, 2 months and 19 days since I first shared details of the “morning routine.” That routine was a wonderful ally during a year that brought a series of huge changes, including the departure from South Bend, IN–our home of 27 years–a road trip / cross-country move with our dog, the end of one professional Identity, and the creation of a new life in Seattle, a hometown I hadn’t lived in for 34 years.
Three days after we arrived here, on July 5, 2018, I made my first official visit to the Seattle Kung Fu Club via the West Seattle Water Taxi. What an ecstatic, strange, and sobering journey that was!
Ever since that day, I’ve practiced a new routine of physical conditioning. The mental conditioning continues as well; in October I began learning Qigong from Jean Clough, at the Fusion Kung Fu and Movement Arts.
Seven months later, I am happy to announce the results are wonderful. A new, more flexible routine has become my ally. It is not any shorter, but it is guaranteed to work, day in, day out.
The flexibility comes from the fact that the morning routine is not always done in the morning anymore, apart from the 30-minute standing meditation. I have not found anything as powerful to battle the morning funk / angst / depressing thoughts. When I do practice this simple exercise, I always feel warmer, stronger, and happier. (It requires standing with heels touching, knees slightly bent, and feet splayed at 90 degree angle, hands relaxed and listening to your breathing, calming your thoughts, for 30 minutes in silence. Sometimes I read a line or two from a favorite book on this list.)
The exercise routine has changed considerably, although I still try to do at least 20 push-ups a day. As a student of the Seattle Kung Fu Club, I now do 21 preliminary exercises before practicing the Wu Form of T’ai chi, which I am gradually learning. The exercises are amazingly long and rigorous–we do 12 sets of each, on both sides–and they never fail to make me feel warm, strong, and powerfully rooted. (Details upon request.) Together with the Wu T’ai chi form, it takes about 90 minutes to do. Sometimes it feels frivolous or a waste of time; yet when I finish, I always feel happy and grateful, and I often have a new idea…
Last month, SKFC leaders invited me to be part of the short T’ai chi demo that will be performed for guests on February 16 and I accepted of course (yikes!). As one who never played team sports as a girl (or ever!), it has been an interesting thing to watch myself enter such activities. I do not like doing things I’m bad at, like striking heavy bronze cymbals out-of-sync. I do not like being the slow person in the performance, the one everyone has to watch. I feel strange standing around like an extra on a movie set. Yet over the days of practice, I have come to feel immensely happy to be part of this group; I love moving in sync with the others, and feeling the energy flow between and around us.
What I’ve learned: it’s not about me anymore. There is a great pleasure that comes from being nobody special, an extra, a warm body. I am pleased to be able to use my abilities (sometimes wobbly, often imperfect) to honor someone else.
Happy Year of the Pig!