When I think about the experience of connecting and reconnecting deeply, the Chinese discipline of t’ai chi comes immediately come to mind. As befits something so rooted in yin-yang ideas, there are two aspects to it – two sides of the same coin.

One aspect is about connecting with the self as you practice – that feeling of being transported to a different place internally; a rich feeling of connectedness of body and mind that transcends time.

The other side of the coin is fundamentally the same phenomena, but is about connecting to the world around you, with other people. It’s like when you play music in a group. You are suddenly moving totally in synch with others, in that timeless zone. It’s an ethereal space in which you can really “hear” the other people in a non-verbal manner.

So t’ai chi creates a space, not just of one individual’s internal being, but rather, at the same moment, you are in a connection beyond your self, to the room you’re in, to the people around, to the world outside.

If that weren’t enough, I found that t’ai chi also became a wonderfully intriguing connection through time and generations: to teachers, their teachers, and far beyond them to the ancient philosophers of China, chief among them Lao-tzu and Confucius. So t’ai chi becomes a vehicle for exploring, understanding and expressing these things.

In the end, all of this t’ai chi practice turns out to be not about esoteric or abstract ideas, but the embodiment of the art. In that realm there is no difference between mind, body, soul and energy. And that’s a wonderful realm to visit.

Barbara Davis is director of Great River T'ai Chi in Minneapolis and has been teaching classes on the I Ching since the 1990s. She has a master's degree in East Asian Studies and is at work on a reader's guide to the I Ching. Barbara's prior works include the Taijiquan Classics: An Annotated Translation. She is editor of Taijiquan Journal, an international quarterly on T'ai chi ch'uan, and has presented workshops around the country. Barbara can be reached at 612.822.5760 or at editor@taijiquanjournal.com.

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