T’ai Chi and working with nature

From October 2018

Over many years I have found out by doing, that the famous ‘correct touch’ for T’ai Chi as spoken about in the Classics, and the correct touch for making things with natural materials, are so similar as to be essentially the same thing, just in differing contexts. Both require sensitivity, joined-up-ness and the ability to change moment to moment, rather than imposing fixed ideas upon the situation at hand. The correct mind for T’ai Chi and working with nature are also the same: expanded open awareness, concentration, connection, absorption, and importantly, humility. Ah, the last one will get you anyway, the bop on the nose, the ungainly trip, the bruised pride: as likely in the woods as in the T’ai Chi Class. Also, sudden moments of grace and natural movement, something ineffable glimpsed, a great push, surprising grounded-ness, an application settling into the body, also common to both realms. I am very lucky to be able to work in both these arenas, sometimes simultaneously.

Here’s a photo from my time at Wilderness Survival Skills. Joe’s such a great instructor, here is his site. There’s an ever-present theme in my life since I was 5 years old: great teachers. I’ll never stop being grateful for that, or aspiring to embody the same range of beneficial qualities in my own teaching.

Picture shows me at atlatl target practice on the last Thursday morning of the Hunter Gatherer Challenge 2018. I will remember this wonderful week for the rest of my life, as a time of unparalleled oneness with my environment. Not through ease and endless relaxation, but through the quotidian flow of what must be attended-to: the fire, the water, the wood, the spear, the foraging, the preparation of the deer. All watched and beheld by the great oaks, the owls, and the black beetles.

Published by Caroline Ross

Artist, maker, teacher of earth materials, founder of Great River T'ai Chi.

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