Friday, April 23, 2010

A big mirror helps

I am writing this from a hotel room somewhere in New York. I was on a university panel looking at ethics and technology. Quite fun!

For my practice today I went to the fitness room in the hotel. Rather nice. Lots of top-notch equipment, which I didn't need. But, a lot of open space, which I did need. On one wall—the whole of the wall—was a mirror. A big mirror. "Perfect," I thought. "Now I can see what my taiji form looks like." Oh dear!

It reminded me of the poem:

O would some power the giftie gie us to see ourselves as others see us.
Robert Burns

For those not familiar with Scots, roughly paraphrased, "It is a gift to see ourselves the way others see us." It's both a gift and, well, a bit of an eye opener. I discovered quite a lot about myself, my body, my posture. I could see a thousand things wrong with my form. It was also very helpful and I could correct quite a bit.

Years ago, when I was a traditional minister, one of the parishioners told me that I ought to stand up straight. "Young man, you lean over too much. Mark my words, your back will curve." Hmm ... I suppose it was all those years hunched over a pulpit. I had seen the old boys do it. I imitated them. Not a good idea, in the long run. I systematically trained myself in bad posture.

In the big mirror it was plain to see. When I corrected my posture, it felt really wrong. I felt like I was leaning over backward. I looked in the mirror: really right. I felt in my body: really wrong. I have read that it takes a long time to retrain your body. In qigong philosophy, it is said that bad posture, holding our bodies in the wrong way, blocks energy flow. The blocking of energy flow is a cause of many of our maladies and sicknesses. Qigong retrains the body, opens the energy flow and works toward good health. It takes along time, but I am glad to be working on it. One very slow step at a time.

Now where can I get a big mirror?


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