lessons from air-bending



I start­ed going to a tai chi class once a week dur­ing my month off in April.

It came out of a rec­om­men­da­tion from a super­vi­sor at the agency where I intern. We were talk­ing about the fear and anx­i­ety that I encounter in work and inter­per­son­al con­texts. She strong­ly sug­gest­ed find­ing a body-based prac­tice that can trans­late into some help­ful prac­tice phi­los­o­phy for work situations. 

Then she gave me a gift cer­tifi­cate that she had won for 4 tai chi lessons. “I take way more class­es than that, so I don’t need it,” she told me.

So I went. Just to see what it’s like. And I know that I’m bad­ly out of shape sit­ting in front of the com­put­er or cro­chet­ing all the time.

After the first class, I decid­ed to call it “air-bend­ing”, because of the slow, sub­tle move­ments that the body makes, as if flow­ing with air. Also, because it reminds me of my sis­ter, who’s a big fan of Avatar: The Last Air­ben­der.

I was­n’t real­ly “get­ting it” for the first three class­es. I was think­ing that maybe it’s not for me. I’m just too unco­or­di­nat­ed. I want­ed my body to move in the way that was demon­strat­ed by the instruc­tor, but I don’t know how to get it to move in that pre­cise way.

The instruc­tor was very nice. She came over to give me indi­vid­ual help every class. And in my third class, while doing this “ward off” move­ment, where the body kind of leans for­ward and the arms cross to press against an invis­i­ble intrud­er made of air, like so…

… the instruc­tor observed how I was doing it and said,

“You’re lean­ing too much for­ward. Don’t lean too much, know where your cen­tre is.”

What she said touched some­thing that was real­ly impor­tant for me. I knew it was impor­tant because my mind blanked out for a moment and was only able to repeat those words.

Don’t lean too much, know where your cen­tre is.

Isn’t that what I do every time I feel afraid? I lean into it. Com­plete­ly into it. And I work myself up to become even more anx­ious, and I tell myself that I can’t fin­ish the task. I can’t han­dle the sit­u­a­tion. I can’t do it. I’m too anxious.

But what if I don’t lean into that fear, and I try to find this core place where I can believe that I can face chal­lenges and oth­er scary things with steadi­ness, know­ing that I have some skills, some knowl­edge that will help me.

The fear makes me for­get that I have skills.

I real­ize that I’m sick of telling myself that I can’t. I can’t because I get too anx­ious. I can’t because I don’t han­dle stress very well. I can’t because it’s too much work and it’s going to stress me out and increase my anx­i­ety lev­el and com­pro­mise my men­tal health. I can’t. I can’t. I can’t.

But I can. Because I’ve done it. Every time a goal is reached, every time a dead­line is met, every time a dream is ful­filled. And, hav­ing been in school for quite a few years, I’ve had many goals and dead­lines. And because of school, some of my biggest dreams have also been fulfilled.

My super­vi­sor spoke with me about not let­ting neg­a­tiv­i­ties live rent-free in my head. 

“You have to evict them, and you have to grow that place that can­not be wound­ed. Can you find that place inside you that can­not be wounded?”

The place that can­not be wound­ed, for me, is the spir­it that God has cre­at­ed in me, and that, I think, is my cen­tre, the core place that has the strength to pull me back from lean­ing too much into fear and self-doubt.


Ah, heavy top­ic on a Fri­day. But some­thing that I felt I need­ed to sort out by writ­ing it down.

Have a good weekend!




6 thoughts on “lessons from air-bending

  1. Great post, Trish. Keep focus­ing on all the things you have accom­plished. You are very, very tal­ent­ed. And keep tak­ing deep breaths when you need them; they real­ly do help :-). Have a won­der­ful weekend!

  2. I don’t nor­mal­ly read blogs. Saw your work on Rav­el­ry, want to make Kat­su, the nin­ja squir­rel and tiny rain­bow cake slice.
    I love tiny, cute stuff too.
    Got so car­ried away brows­ing through all the cool stuff you post; I missed the begin­ning of Cor­rie St.heehee
    I’ve been con­sid­er­ing tak­ing up tai chi for the past year now.
    I think I’ll go for it.
    Love your web­site, glad i found it. :)

  3. i think you told me that… i think it would be inter­est­ing to do water tai chi. like doing tai chi in the pool. like water aer­o­bics, but only with tai chi.

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