CTQS Newsletter

Musings of a Tortoise Warrior: How Dr. Yang's Training Worked for Me

by Oliver Reimer
© 2019 Center for Taiji & Qigong Studies: all rights reserved

Author Oliver Reimer with Dr. Yang at camp

Editors note: EBQT refers, below, to combined Evidence-Based Qigong and Taiji certifications training. The training referred to in this article is 5 days long and, in addition to evidence-based qigong training, includes the first section of the traditional Chen 48 taiji form.

All the ingredients of a good learning experience were present at the recent EBQT for Sleep and Anxiety. Among them: a physical environment--comfortable and safe; an interpersonal environment created by Dr. Yang and the students--kind, generous and accepting; and, course material--stimulating and interesting while providing each of us a comfortable amount of challenge.

Always, was the feeling that though we were serious about learning we could smile and enjoy the process. We ended each session with dancing. I loved the energy all around me, the smiles and obvious pleasure in movement just for its own sake.

Finally after 7 decades I am comfortable with being a slow learner. For example, this training included the first section of the Traditional Chen 48 form, and the move called, "Warrior’s Jump" eluded me for all five days. I worked with a partner who patiently helped me figure out the foot work. Then it eluded me again.

It was a touch embarrassing but I knew if I kept calm and remained patient with myself, I would get it. Practicing back at home now, I do have it. I'm loving the learning process!

I’ve been thinking about “over-learning.” Each time Dr. Yang introduced another new form, I thought to myself that I would never be able to follow it. Each time we practiced with partners, to my amazement I could do much more than I expected.

The partners work created a feeling of acceptance. We got to know each other as we explored the movements and helped each other figure them out.

Over-loading worked for me because I realized I could practice each form without the expectation of “getting it” or being good at it. I knew that some of what we did would stick in my nervous system.

Now, practicing at home, I find the integration starting to happen. The course-DVD also helps, of course, because now my own body is a reference. I am understanding what I saw and felt.

I’ve never been fond of standing meditation because of pain in my feet and shoulders, but this time in Scranton I began to learn how to use discomfort to learn about better body structure. A fellow participant, Dr. Northam, referred to a general characteristic of successful meditators --an ability to observe an emotion rather than be overwhelmed by it.

I valued having a chance to learn some of the neuroscience surrounding sleep and anxiety issues. At this point in my life these are not personal concerns but I am glad to know more so as to help other people.

I consider Dr. Yang “a teacher’s teacher.” I left camp with lots of ideas about how to improve the quality of my own teaching. Among them, I learned from the precision of his instruction.

Returning to my usual patterns of life in Thunder Bay, I am curious about how some of the things I learned will emerge in a particular movement, or in some conversation with a friend or an interaction with a student.

The camp was a profoundly satisfying experience. There was much food for thought and I will be digesting it for a long time.

About the Author

Oliver Reimer reports that a knee injury and early retirement from teaching school combined to give him both a reason and leisure time to study taiji wth Peng Youlian. Gradually that evolved into teaching. When he met Dr.Yang in 2006 he says, "I was immediately drawn to his presence and his teaching approach. I found new inspiration in some of his camps and workshops." Currently he teaches Modern Style Taiji and the Feldenkrais Method at the 55 Plus Centre in Thunder Bay. He says, My wife is one of my students. My grandson likes the idea of Taiji. For him it involves light sabres and wild fights over the furniture and across the living room floor.

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