Louanne offers the following insights about mindfulness and its association with T’ai Chi.
“Mindfulness is cultivating a sense of total awareness of the body, feelings, the mind and what the mind holds on to, and how they all inter-connect.
It is the practice of sensitively turning attention inwards in order to journey through the turbulence of emotions, desires and distractions to find the stillness below the surface of constantly shifting thoughts. Mindfulness is not just directed inwards, but is a quality brought, through practice, to one’s whole way of being in the world.
Bringing awareness to the breath, the mind is steadied and we become more stable, more focused and fully present, and therefore more able to give full attention to what is happening each moment of the day.
The cultivation of mindfulness takes time and needs both patience and persistence. On the one hand one listens with a discerning honesty to everything that arises and attempts to remain detached and avoid impulsive reaction. On the other hand that same honesty carries the danger of inflicting undue criticism on the self who is subject to these emotions. The only way through is to soften and let compassion become part of one’s awareness.
Essentially mindfulness is learning to let go and be kind to oneself and to others; kindly allowing thoughts to be what they are – good, bad or indifferent – without trying to control, judge or interfere; just allowing a gentle quality of stillness to seep into the deep pool of our awareness.
T’ai Chi and Mindfulness
Although the practice of mindfulness is often taught, and initially experienced more deeply, in a sitting position, any aspect of life can be an opportunity to act in a mindful way.
T’ai Chi can become the interface between sitting quietly and moving with intention and awareness. It offers a uniquely beautiful medium for working with the body and gesture.
T’ai Chi gathers the heart, mind and body into an integrated and precise focus, which then becomes mirrored outwardly in the expansiveness of the movements.
Through the fully embodied awareness of T’ai Chi, the myriad daily opportunities for mindful awareness can begin to be truly appreciated. Moving, doing chores, meeting others, holding a child, or gathering flowers can all become ways of practicing the art of being lovingly and mindfully present.”