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Why I Teach...

As a teacher, I am familiar with a certain look on a student's face: the mixture of disbelief and anticipation. "You think I can do that?" Patiently, and detail by detail, I show them a new move from the tai chi form. Frustration shifts to incredulity to accomplishment. The facial expression goes from anxiety to joy! Confidence grows, and the process of learning tai chi moves forward.

The study of tai chi encompasses so many areas, starting with body awareness, and then moving on to physical strength, balance and control. After that, the benefits really start to accrue, in the mind and the body and the spirit. Students find the reasons that they may have started the study are no longer the reasons that they continue. The satisfaction of learning an art form (in their mind AND their body) is never-ending, and oh-so-rewarding.

Watching the evolution of a student from beginner to accomplished tai chi practitioner is why I continue to teach. The most current research in health and longevity says that the best outcomes are achieved when there is a balance between mind and body and spirit. Since tai chi affects all these areas, I can think of no better way to help humanity then to teach this art. Dedicated students blossom, like a lotus flower slowly unfurling. Immune function, cognitive function, and perhaps most importantly, confidence, improves.

I love hearing what students have to say about the changes they've experienced, or what their loved ones notice. From the middle-aged daughter of an elderly student: "Mom, you get up off the floor with more ease than I do!" From a spouse to her husband: "You've been much easier to live with since you've been practicing tai chi." From a physician: "You are in great shape for your age -- whatever you're doing, keep it up!" The change in attitude to difficult life events -- from frustration to challenge -- is worth the practice time. And practice it does take, just like learning any art form. And from there, comes the reward. The accomplishment is directly related to the effort, and it becomes a positive feedback loop. As the benefits accrue, the motivation to practice and learn more increases.

As I witness the change in my students: the improved physical condition, the calmer demeanor, the willingness to open their hearts and their minds -- I take a deep breath and am thankful that teaching tai chi is the work that I do.

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