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"Without Exertion"

Tai Chi, Qigong, and Lessons from China

There are so many reasons to visit China. Some visitors seek the captivating temples, others the beautiful country and some come to explore the cultures of different regions. My purpose in visiting China was to immerse myself in Tai Chi (Taiji) and Qigong. I wanted to learn more and practice at the birthplace of Taiji. The most provoking experiences of my trip were the morning visits to the cities’ local parks. It’s in these giant parks where I encountered China. The parks are their gym and people gather to exercise together in their own little "communities" dotted throughout the park. One morning, I could see in the distance a group of young people harmoniously practicing Taiji together as if being carried by an invisible current. On closer inspection, I saw that these “young people” were actually retired adults. Their balance and flexibility were amazing; I was totally mesmerized! A few of them waved me over to join them and with hand gestures and smiles, they made a space for me. I joined and we moved together in fluid, effortless movements, spiraling and circling together like a murmuration of slow-flying sparrows. This experience repeated itself in different parks and I learned Taiji is generally appreciated by older people; it takes age and practice to enjoy the benefits of Taiji, namely to reside in a state called Wu Wei, meaning, “without exertion”. I admit this is a challenging idea to grasp, coming from the west, where more exercise is better, but there’s another healthier view held in Taiji circles that “the only sin is excess”.

After more trips to China, I wanted to practice and share Qigong / Tai Chi with my neighbors in Grand Junction. There is now an established local clan of beginning enthusiasts who practice three days a week at Sherwood Park. We practice on Mondays, Thursdays, and Saturdays at 10:00 on the north end of Sherwood Park. If you'd like to join us, just look for a group of youthful and happy people. Put on comfortable clothing and come!