The Beginner's Mind

First, a reminder that classes will be a little different this week: There will be only one class on Monday, Sept. 23, at 7pm. Beginners welcome. There will be sword practice at 8pm.

I want to talk a little about the "beginners mind." I first learned this term when I was learning karate, but the term its roots in Zen Buddhism. It means that no matter what level of success you have achieved (like the Level 4 Copper Tiger), you should always approach your practice with openness, eagerness, and a lack of preconceptions.

As soon as you learn the first section and begin to learn the second, you will need to--and want to--go back and "re-learn" the very beginning. Because you will have new understanding of and ability to perform the bow step, the waist movement, the roll back... Tai chi is complicated, we all know that. But I believe that our Tai chi long form is uniquely designed to teach us at the speed and depth we are able to "grasp" that bird's tail, and enjoy the physical benefits in the process. That's why we say that a beginner is learning do the form "approximately" right. An intermediate tries to become "standard," and an advanced student works toward "refinement." That process never ends nor gets boring!

--Judith Rew