As Gently As Possible

Tai-chi qi-gong, like yoga, is about moving around and looking slightly silly while calming the mind. It is an art designed to attune your mind and body to the vital energies of the universe. It’s popular in China and Japan for sustaining health, vitality, and flexibility well into old age.

The trick to making qi-gong work is to relax as completely as possible while you move.

If you’re stressed, in a hurry, you just end up flapping your arms around like a startled goose.

But, if you can stay calm, centered, focused – not only are your motions graceful, but they fill you with incredible energy and awareness.

Meditation also works this way.

Here’s how meditation teachers explain it: You sit. You focus on your breathing. You try to let your mind be still. You realize that you have been thinking about Doctor Who, Nancy Grace, The Dali Lama, your neighbor Fred, squirrels, work, your toe, dirty dishes, next Thursday, and everything else in the world besides stillness. Then you go back to focusing on your breath, and repeat the process over and over, and over. And over.

Meditation never worked for me because I would berate myself for thinking about stupid things, and then try to guilt my mind into shutting up. This, obviously, was thinking, and would lead to a cycle of more berating, more thinking, and generally less peace and stillness.

The trick to avoiding my mistake is to refocus your mind (each of the ten billion times it gets distracted) as gently as possible. It’s sort of a game. It becomes like watching rivulets of water appear and disappear into a river. Thought, return, thought, return. But it only returns if you’re gentle.

It is the gentleness, the gracefulness, that allows you to open to the flow of the universe.

The same is true for life. Sometimes the best way to make your changes, face your dragons, and walk your path is as gently and mindfully as possible.

Of course, there are also times when you just need a kick in the ass.

The only way to know is to try it and see.

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