I feel I was very fortunate to have found the Taoist Tai Chi® arts almost twenty years ago now, especially when I witness my siblings still to this day struggling with the effects of our tough childhood.
When you are born into a dysfunctional family, have parents who have a volatile relationship, undiagnosed mental health issues, and who then go on to have ten children…you find yourself in an environment of turmoil, neglect, and emotional and physical abuse, where there is no trust, no direction, no chance of being able to let go. All of this takes a toll on your health.
After the busy period of time in life finally started to slow down – with work, bringing up a family, and trying to catch myself up on my lack of education – I decided it was time to look after myself a bit more. I’d already had a couple of health issues in the past but I was then diagnosed with an inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). I was told it was going to be a long-term condition, but I wasn’t prepared to accept that so I sought out an art to help me regain my health. For a few years I practiced a different style of Tai Chi, but it didn’t have the philosophy that I expected a Tai Chi society to have. I then came across his teachings. That first session I attended had a feeling of being at home and I can still remember that feeling and visualise that class today.
I feel that the many years of classes, intensives and retreats I have attended over the years feel like the long foundation course that I personally needed. They helped me rid myself of the IBD condition and prepared me well for the last two years of the pandemic where I was able to focus even more on myself and my self-practice. The last two years, for me, have felt like the degree course that followed my long foundation course. With the weekly FLK sessions helping me along the way, the many reminders of not to worry, and applying the themes of the FLK sessions to my practice and my daily life. The daily physical practice slowly became a habit. Paying attention to the feelings, alongside the admin involved in the national, regional, branch and class zoom calls – all of these things together helped me to finally recognise and experience the feeling of trust, the feeling of being part of a family who cared enough to nurture us, the feeling of having some direction and the feeling that I can maybe even let go, even during these strange times that we are in.
When as a child and as an adult you are given no option but to get drawn into other people’s turbulence, because they are your family, it has meant the journey of gaining balance, health, trust and confidence has been a long one for me. Today I am healthier than I have ever been. The years of practicing his teachings resulted in a feeling of stillness, a stillness I had never experienced as a child, this stillness alone has made that long journey worthwhile.
My parents have both since passed. During the All Souls Festival last year, hearing that the idea of the festival was a way to help everyone to let go and reconcile themselves, find harmony, move forward and return to healthy relationships both for the living and the dead. All this was difficult for me to relate to, but I bought two temporary memorial plaques – one for each of my parents, in the hope that they are both finally resting in peace.