Tai Chi – To Be Or Not To Be?
By Howard Gibbon, founder of the East-West Taoist Association
One of the problems experienced by new students to Tai Chi is they often complain they can not remember the moves. Because Tai Chi relaxes the body and dulls the thought processes, the moves are often easily forgotten but the essential benefits of Tai Chi i.e. the meditative experience is remembered. Because it is absorbed into their being.
This is the beauty of Tai Chi. The inner experience outweighs the outer for the newcomer and as this is an unfamiliar experience, the mind fights it because it does not understand and can not define the experience by looking at other experiences. The mind wants to understand to link to a past experience and to commit that experience to memory. Now we have a big problem. The new student feels good after the class but when trying to relate their experience to others, find it difficult to put it into words what that experience was, because essentially it was an experience that was felt not deciphered by the mind.
Tai Chi practice should refresh you; not burden you with more things to remember. True understanding in Tai Chi brings a deep wholeness to your essential being. Not another memory attached to the intellect. There is no need to remember it – it is there…
As you practise let thoughts come and let them pass through. Become the watcher. Be indifferent to the thoughts. When you listen or read word of wisdom, don’t try to remember them or the meaning will be lost. Let them wash over you, cleaning your mind, emptying it. Do not let thoughts whip up your mind like a strong wind ruffling the surface of water causing confusion and doubt, be still like a calm lake. The purpose of meditation is to throw out the mind. Tai Chi empties the mind. Do not burden yourself with more words or thought processes.
See from your deep inner self, let that wisdom go to work to change and empower your essential self, the real inner you. Forget for the moment your outer self, your conscious self that was born of your upbringing, your surroundings and moulded by others’ expectation of you and what you should become.
Tai Chi given the chance can change your life, if you let it. This is true, I know beyond a shadow of doubt because I am living proof of that.
Being of service to others by passing on the teaching I was so privileged to receive from my Tai Chi Master and spiritual mentor. I am living a life of happiness and satisfaction beyond my wildest dreams. I have found my personal Dao.
Perhaps I was lucky but I really believe I had the sense to see the Master when I met him and intuitively felt that this was what I should be doing. I didn’t understand why, it just felt right and I did not deny that or subdue it with logic. I followed my heart though the good and the bad times and allowed my inner self to flower.
About the Author
Howard Gibbon was born in Hull in 1946 and began training under Chee Soo in 1973. He has been an instructor of both Tai Chi Chuan and Feng Shou Kung Fu since 1976. He lives with his wife and mosaic artist Gisela in Scarborough, North Yorkshire.
Howard’s early fascination for Tai Chi soon grew into a life-time vocation, realizing that Tai Chi went beyond a purely physical discipline, but Tai Chi was also a tool for self-development, spiritual growth, and a way of helping himself and others to achieve holistic health and well-being. Extremely proficient in the Feng Shou self defence arts, Howard nevertheless felt a special love for the various Tai Chi Forms, K’ai Men and Dao Yin. In fact he is famous for being Chee Soo’s only instructor who practiced the Tai Chi form every morning, with the exception of Christmas Day, for 15 years! (And he is still practising the Tai Chi form, with an odd exception, on a daily basis!
Chee Soo had hundreds, perhaps thousands of Tai Chi students who entered his training halls through the years, but in the end there were only four in the country who stayed long enough to gain the highest Master Grade Chee Soo issued in his life time. One of those students was Howard, respected by his peers as the foremost authority on the Lee Family Tai Chi form. Howard’s and Chee Soo’s friendship was legendary and it is a privilege for those who today train under Howard to be shown an art so ancient, taught as he was taught, undiluted by fads and fashions, imbued with love, enthusiasm, precision and quality.
Chee Soo passed away in 1994. In order to safeguard the continuation of the Arts and their philosophy, Howard founded the East-West Taoist Association in 1999. Howard has a weekly Tai Chi evening class as well as taking regular all-day Tai Chi courses and grading days.