Doing Ai Chi affects each of us in a unique and individual way every time we do it. We come to this practice from different life experiences~ from interactions with others at home or en route to the pool, after hearing a breaking news broadcast or listening to relaxing music. We have different backgrounds, health issues, emotional experiences, support systems, coping mechanisms and internal resources. Some come to Ai Chi with a goal~ to improve balance, mobility, core strength, or breathing, to reduce stress, find pain relief or simply to feel more centered… Ai Chi can bring all of these things. It is a tool for strengthening and healing.
But there can be roadblocks to being in the frame of mind to fully enjoy Ai Chi practice in the moment. Perhaps the water temperature is not quite right or the noise level is high. Perhaps you had a distracting encounter or something is weighing on your mind. What can you do?
The structure of Ai Chi is there to help you. The introductory steps invite grounding, with a stable posture. Turn your attention away from the commotion around you to your breath, to the sensation of the buoyancy and support of the water and to the fractal patterns in the ripples as you move. Acknowledge your concerns, and leave them behind for a little while~ you can get back to them later. Accept the presence of distractions, but let them be. They may persist, but you are involved in something else for the moment. If you find yourself inhaling during an exhalation movement, know that it was because you needed it. Don’t let stress creep in if you omit a step or move left when you normally would have moved right~ the structured patterns of Ai Chi are a framework for you to build your own experience. Jun Kono reminds us through his words and through his own practice adaptations that however it turns out is how it was meant to be.
In the 1930’s, a chef at the Toll House Inn in Massachusetts named Ruth Wakefield wanted to serve her guests a new variation of cookies and ice cream. As she started her baking project, she was tight on time and realized that her supply of easy-melting Baker’s sweet chocolate was depleted. The only chocolate available was a semi-sweet chocolate bar, which she chopped up and put on top of the cookie batter, hoping it would melt to create a chocolate cookie. Instead, the beloved chocolate chip cookie was born~ comfort food that was meant to be.
Ruth Sova recently shared these timely words from Henry Ford: Even a mistake may turn out to be the one thing necessary to a worthwhile achievement.
Sometimes what we perceive as “mistakes” are really how it was meant to be.
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