Friday, February 3, 2012

Mindfulness Practices: T'ai Chi Chih and Drawing

One of my goals for 2012 is to develop my mindfulness - my ability to be aware in the moment, without that distracting internal chatter that can interfere with the connection and ability to communicate with the horse.  To that end, I've started two new practices, in addition to trying to do some daily meditation.  Also, on my daily walk, I try to practice mindfulness, bringing my attention back gently, without judgment, to the landscape and what I observe every time (and there are many, many times) when the internal chatter/commentary/thinking/list-making/remembering process starts up.  Just being aware of that internal static going on is a big deal for me.

First, I've started taking classes in t'ai chi chih again - I took a few classes a number of years ago but didn't keep it up, but remembered how good it was - now why do we stop doing things that are/feel good?  Who knows?  I certainly don't.  Anyway, I'm doing it again, and with the same instructor as last time.  She's very calm and very focussed and very good.  T'ai chi chih is a series of 19 movements and one pose - it's not a martial art, and can be done standing or sitting by people in any physical condition - it's been used with success even in nursing homes.  It's all about attention, breathing, balance, and movement, directing and not blocking energy, and flow, and coordination of legs, arms and body in a way that produces a feeling of relaxation and beauty.  Does that sound like anything else to you?  That's just what I want to bring to my riding.  I think these classes, and the practice of t'ai chi chih, will be very good for my riding, and are enjoyable and good for my life in general.

I've also taken up drawing again, and I'm taking a class that meets once a week, with an instructor I've taken classes with before.  I have a particular interest in still life and botanical drawing, including a fondness for trees and their forms and shapes, and we'll see where that takes me.  Drawing is another practice that is fun in itself - if you can take away the judging mind - and I think it's also very good for developing mindfulness and the practice of being in the moment.

Horses are about life, and life is about horses . . .

9 comments:

  1. You've got that right. My students have totally enjoyed drawing and can't believe how the time flies during class. They get in the moment and it is very relaxing.

    Love your positive attitude.

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  2. Ahh, this post could be about me. I just started getting back into the Art Studio after a hiatus and I am also trying to learn to block out that inner voice and just be in the moment when I ride. Looking forward to more posts from you.

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  3. You've got some wonderful things happening there. T'ai Chi Chih sounds very interesting.

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  4. The T'ai Chi sounds wonderful, I'll have to see if they do classes near me. Art is great, very affirming and it can be a real journey of self-expression if you can just let it come and not try to be exact and perfect. Sounds like you've started off really well!

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  5. Nice post Kate...I was formulating in my own mind a similar next post along your views. I have not done Tai Chi as yet but it is on my "to do" list as an exercise to encourage being in the "now". You have inspired me to do so...Nancy

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  6. Your last line is so true. Oddly, I have recently decided some of the same things you have, only it's yoga and quilting. I started yoga classes this week after many years of not practicing. I wanted to cry during the first class, mainly because I found out I'm not as bad off as I thought, rusty, but not really that bad. I think our horses can read the confidence in our body language. I'm looking forward to riding this spring.

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  7. Strange, but I was just thinking about doing some drawing myself today. I have several friends who are serious and wonderful artists who amaze me. Your post encourages me to do a bit on my own without putting my efforts up to theirs for comparison.

    Once again, your approach to riding makes a lot of sense.

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  8. I hope you put your drawings up and show us. I know all about a "judging mind" as I am my own worst critic. Keep at it as relaxing as well.... I need to get back to my drawing, too.

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  9. Tai Chi, is a wonderful thing for relaxation, and the breathing excerises should help calm you when working with the horses, Keep up the good work!!!!!!!

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