How or where do I begin this long-overdue letter to my tai chi friends in Melbourne!? It has been only 4 months since I left Australia and just over 33 years since I embarked on my life-long tai chi journey. Yet, it feels like eons! Has time shrunk just now or have I changed, utterly? Most likely both, in my mind at least. But I do know that tai chi has been that continuing thread in my life that has often kept me ‘together’, energised and calm, particularly in recent times. And, for that, I am beyond grateful to all my teachers, tai chi masters, the Celestial Tai Chi College and my fellow tai chi-ing enthusiasts and practitioners.
As some of you may know, I relocated to Belgrade, Serbia, with my husband George, wishing to change the scene and experience the vibe of our homeland after 35 years under the southern skies of the vast Australian land. Knowing mentally that everything in life changes is one thing, but experiencing it is quite another, especially at a certain tender ripe age. Hordes of new people and brand new generations are now walking up and down these curvy, busy Belgrade streets, new speak, new governments, old animosities, vast changes and future hopes are buzzing all around us in this constant dance of life.
Should I summarise my personal tai chi history or give you several lines from my Serbian diary here, hm, it could be quite an entertaining read, but I’d rather not bore you with farcical snippets from my autobiography. I’ll spare you for now. Instead, let me refocus on whatever inspiring, creative and revitalising thoughts come to my mind in the midst of this chaotic, hectic and challenging new life in Belgrade.
Here, take a peek at a few situations in which tai chi and qigong skills have come in quite handy: On a zebra crossing, for instance, or boarding public transport, or riding on a bus requires a skill in balancing on one or both legs, whilst holding arms above your head onto a rail. Sudden stops, when the crowd shifts forward and backward, make you spontaneously produce those Xu and Chui sounds (demonstrating liver and kidney qi) that we learned in Liu Zi Jue Qigong routine. Also, shoving and pushing those around you inadvertently, on the bus, trolleybus or tram, is just common behavior, no hurt feelings or surprises, except on my face. No doubt you can clearly visualise now how beneficial our basic tai chi moves are. In particular, White Crane, Shoulder Ram, Lotus Kick, Knuckle Strike, not to mention Play Guitar, or even the inevitable Horse Riding Stance. Thank you GM Eng Chor and SM Chin Min for teaching me all these application moves over the years! I knew they’d be useful one day in real life situations.
Not every practice of mine feels like the above hard core demonstration of skills. Sometimes I feel truly blessed in my favourite park, like Tašmajdan Park (near St Mark’s Church in central Belgrade), in the middle of a pine tree circle, letting go of all stress and just breathing and moving in rhythmical sways and steps, feeling free, relaxed and hooked all over again. Hooked on tai chi and qigong, these beautiful artistic disciplines that have fixed my body, refined my focus, movement and energy flow, as well as physical centering — also taught me to conserve energy, breathe in harmony with movements, stay consistent, disciplined and relaxed in tough and easy times alike. In the park, passers-by and their dogs, crows and pigeons, would stop to glance at fluid tai chi moves, some take photos, others stare or smile. Hence, no wonder I enjoy sharing these skills with folk around me, across continents, hoping that they would discover at least a scrap of beauty, good health and overall balance in their own practice. Or, at least have that ‘aha’ experience while learning the moves for the very first time.
Well, my dear Melburnians, tai chi friends, I’d like us all to be well, healthy and strong, as we dig deeper into our tai chi and qigong enquiries. To keep learning and stimulating both internal and external qi circulation is not effortless, but may ultimately become a way of life, hopefully effortless. Till we meet again I’ll keep micro-boosting our field of infinite energy flow.
Adjunct Senior Instructor
Updated: 12 November 2023