Saying “Yes” to Taiji

by Camille Lipford on 2021/03/17

Today in class, Master Chen commented that there was new flow, clarity, and sharpness in my form. He said this day was a small milestone for me, and he wanted me to document it. He asked: Did I feel something different?

Honestly, no.

Practicing more and more, encountering more and more stuckness and difficulty…  There are probably more areas of ease and insight also, eluding my attention for the most part. Maybe what brought about a change is not caring anymore about achievement. Realistically, I am a middle-aged wife and mother who drives buses for a living. Decades of injuries speak to me every day.  However, loving taiji, I have stopped wondering why. Turning into a wrinkly old crone, I might as well do something good with life, and haven’t found anything better than our Practical Method.

Reflecting more…Have I done anything differently in the last few months? A few things come to mind at first: taming a semi-wild dog, growing and eating more sprouted food, enjoying more hours in the forest….Could these change my taiji?  Maybe it’s because of studying the actions of our old-fashioned grinder: rotating, grinding, and spiraling as I crank out coffee beans and wheat sprouts? Is it because of a general strengthening of integrity in my life these days?

It’s possible that my attitude towards taiji has been changing for a while.  Master Chen was teaching us in 2019 Maple Ridge workshops to say “Yes” to taiji.  When he would explain what we needed to work on next, some students would groan and say “We’ll never get it!”  This attitude is not productive.  Also, asking ourselves “How is this taiji?” while going about our days allows training to take place with every action.

When our practice space in Port Alberni closed due to social restrictions last March, we moved practice to the park.  When Zoom classes were offered at seemingly awkward times, I adjusted my schedule, or took class as I walked to work.  In case I won’t be able to fly, I am dreaming about taking a freighter ship from Port Alberni to Qingdao, next time I visit Daqingshan.  It’s only a 25 day voyage, or so…..  Saying “Yes” to taiji allows life to present interesting alternatives that previously remained hidden from consideration.

Sitting for the past few months in the international Zoom class is helping hammer home the basic taiji principles. I love seeing each student’s work, seeing the common difficulties we must overcome.  Master Chen has said : “The transmission is in the touch.”  Looking forward also to training in person.


{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

Matt Landau March 18, 2021 at 7:49 am

Great post. Your mention of 3 qualities: (i) humility, (ii) productive attitude and (iii) training taking place in every action; they are insightful and necessary for us all to further refine. Master Chen’s lessons are profound; when taken seriously they affect every aspect of our existence. Let us all continue to work hard(er) to one day become truly worthy students of his transmission.


Camille Lipford March 18, 2021 at 9:43 pm

Aye, that.


Ramona Gomez March 19, 2021 at 3:24 pm

Hi Camille,
I loved reading your post. It spoke to me when you said “Maybe what brought about a change is not caring anymore about achievement.” I don’t think it’s about ‘not caring’ (as I can tell you are very committed), but as we learn to quit trying too hard and stop comparing ourselves to others and just accept who we are and what we are capable of, we find we can achieve more. I know that is true for me.
Your statement about watching other students practice and noticing that we all seem to have common flaws and difficulties is very true.
Maybe someday we can meet in Daqingshan. Visiting there is one of my dreams.


Camille Lipford March 19, 2021 at 7:40 pm

Hi Ramona, I’m glad you enjoyed the writing…I also used to compare myself with others, which as you pointed out is not helpful. It would be lovely to meet you at Daqingshan, or Arizona, or some place!


James Tam April 23, 2021 at 6:31 pm

I thoroughly enjoyed the article…while enjoying my coffee on a freighter to Daqingshan…and enchanted by the sprightly sparkle in the eyes of a smiling taiji face.


Camille Lipford April 24, 2021 at 12:28 pm

That’s funny James. I don’t think Ottawa is a deep sea port! Your journey will be quite different from mine 🙂


Dina Kerr September 18, 2022 at 2:28 pm

Wonderful, I can relate to your words xd


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