Spotlight on:Nikki Annoni
Tai Chi is one of those things that either you love right away, or else it doesn't appeal to you at all. My interest began as a way to enhance my spirituality, but the practice became a lot more fun as it broadened and deepened.
Practicing the forms of Tai Chi can generate a serene joy. Oh yes, there is a lot of time learning the choreography, and then peeling away the layers in each posture—that isn't the serene part. But when I can stop thinking so much and let body memory move me through the forms, then Tai Chi really is a joyous meditation.
What could I compare this to? Maybe it's like canoeing, stroke after mindless stroke, while I focus on the beauty of the lake. Or ice-skating—my legs do their work while I focus on the beauty of the now-frozen lake. Running, swimming—all can be meditations.
But Tai Chi is so much more! The sword and saber are lots of swashbuckling fun, and I love the disguised beauty of the fan. Despite my noble spiritual motives, the martial applications of Tai Chi turned out to be a whole lot of fun. It's difficult to go against my nature of physical passivity, but it's good for me, too. Partner work develops more confidence in my physical capabilities, and especially develops sensitivity to the intentions of others. That confidence carries over into all the rest of my life. The increased focus, flexibility, balance, and connection with the ground—all are skills that I use at work, at play, and in relationships.
Flowing focused Chi—for me that is the essence of the art.