By Ralph Whittal
Tai Chi has been part of my life for the past six months or so. I have found it to be beneficial and I could not imagine a life without my weekly Tai Chi routine. Some of the benefits for me have included centering and grounding of my thoughts and it has also helped me to find balance in my life.
I’m very much a Tai Chi beginner and went on my first Tai Chi retreat in the last week of October 2016. I immediately fell in love with the Melody Hill retreat centre. It’s such an idyllic venue and I found myself instantly connected to the natural environment. I loved the surrounding gardens with the variety of birds singing from up above in the branches and enjoyed my early morning walks and reading under the trees whilst taking in all of that fresh early morning air.
On the first day of the retreat we had a talk by Dr. Danny Pillay, chairman of Homeopaths South Africa, who also practices traditional Chinese medicine and accupunture. The talk really increased my awareness of how important it is to look after the body and how effective disciplines like yoga and Tai Chi are. They are so beneficial to improving overall health and quality of life.
I spent some time watching and admiring all the participants practicing whilst trying to learn part of the sequence. I received some much-needed instruction from Leo, our Sifu, and members of the group who were so eager to help and spend time with me.
We also did some Tai Chi in the swimming pool which was a lot of fun. I discovered that being in the pool helped to make the experience of the “flowing” that one should experience outside the pool while doing Tai Chi, much more accessible and tangible.
On the Sunday we entered the yoga studio for some gong therapy. A gong is an eastern instrument which creates sounds that allow one to find that peaceful place in the conscious mind, needed to attain or to enter a dreamlike or meditative state.
This was such an enlightening experience for me. I was amazed at how I could access parts of my conscious mind in order to bring out more of an awareness and attunement to my life and even managed to access and work through some subconscious material that has been on my mind for some time now.
I looked forward to meal times and spending time with the group socializing. The food was so tasty, wholesome and good. The centre provides many things to keep one busy and in the evenings, I discovered the art of colouring-in with books and pencils scattered around the social area. I found this to be such a relaxing and therapeutic experience, I can recommend it.
I did some swimming in the pool to cool off from the summer heat over the weekend and practiced a little backstroke whilst enjoying the socializing done with friends from the group who were cooling off with me.
The Tai Chi weekend away was an enjoyable and beneficial experience for me and I can’t wait to sign up for the next one in the new year.