Having been diligent and focused during my first three years of college, I have extra time on my hands to use for whatever I wish now that I am wrapping things up. I have decided to take up Yoga and Tai Chi.
My college offers both of these courses as physical education and I was excited by the idea of having to force myself to set aside the time for something I have always been passionate about.
I practiced martial arts for many years and had to give them up as my college years approached. Beginning with Shaolin Kempo Karate, I later realized that it was the art and mindset that I enjoyed chasing so I moved on to Tai Chi and Wushu.
I gave up these arts when I realized that it would be difficult to practice while away at college. Holding a job, going to school, and keeping up with martial arts is a full load. Even though I had to leave them behind, I never wanted it to leave my heart.
That is what I noticed was happening when my third year of college came around. I noticed that the fundamental ideas and some of the positive characteristics of practicing martial arts were escaping my memory. Even if I reviewed my old notes or read my old books, I could not get that feeling back.
Now, my class schedule is set up so that I am in the dojo five days a week. Even though I have only been to one Yoga class and one Tai Chi class so far, I am starting to remember. We practiced the first moves of the form that we will be learning in Tai Chi a few days ago. The movements felt so familiar and I could feel the old energy that I was accustomed to coursing through my veins.
Even on the first day, my yoga teacher reminded me of something that everyone forgets every once and a while: the art of being present.
He discussed his strict attendance policy and how he expects us all to be right on time in the morning. He said he will lock his door right when class starts to keep people from barging in and interrupting. That is when he said something that caught my attention. He said for the first ten minutes of class, he has us sit in silence to give everyone a chance to show up.
This contradictory statement raised many eyebrow, but it wasn’t long until we realized what he was saying.
“Have you ever gone somewhere and you were definitely there, you just weren’t there?” He used this question to help guide our thoughts. “The first ten minutes of class are to be used as a centering, to give each of you a chance to be present. Once your minds are officially here with us, class will start.”
This is a practice that I have carried in and out of the dojo for many years. Many times I find myself going so fast, from one thing to the next, that I don’t give myself a chance to be here. Being present is one of the best and most simple ways to improve your life, and I am looking forward to bring such practices back into my daily life.
Getting on the floor again is one of the best decisions I have made in college. I already know that I am going to have a great last semester as I revive some of my old habits.