Monday, June 2, 2008

Connecting Mind, Body, Spirit, and the Natural World Through Movement

As a graduate student exploring the realm of spirituality, I am intensely interested in interconnectedness. And in these last days of the spring academic quarter, I find that most things in my life are connected to the end of the school year—this blog entry is no exception!

In one of my courses this term, we have been looking at various methods of decision-making or discernment. Each of the paths we’ve studied incorporates some form of spiritual practice and a reliance on information from one’s body and felt senses in addition to the information one receives from the rational mind.

I could go into much detail about specific forms of discernment, but that is not my goal here. Instead, I would like to share one the practices that our class has been using to center ourselves at the beginning of our time together.

The practice of Shibashi (also known as a form of Tai Chi or Qigong/Chi Kung) draws on the wisdom of the natural world, and practitioners use the simple movements to promote healing and a balanced perspective.

When I first saw a description of Shibashi, I was struck by the poetic and evocative names of the eighteen movements:

Waving hands by the lake,
Expanding heart on mountain,
Painting a rainbow,
Parting the clouds,
Floating silk in the air,
Rowing a boat in the middle of the lake,
Presenting a peach to the sage,
Gazing at the moon,
Wind rustles lotus leaves,
Hands in the clouds,
Scooping the sea and viewing the sky,
Rolling the waves,
Dove spreads its wings,
Dragon emerging from the sea,
Flying wild goose,
Windmills turning in the breeze,
Bouncing the ball in the sunshine,
Nature’s fragrance drifts up.

As I enter into the practice of Shibashi, I connect my own human experiences to those of my fellow beings in the natural world—How does a wave feel as it crashes to shore and then rolls back out into the sea? What would it feel like for a dove to spread its wings or for a wild goose to fly in formation with its flock? Even if I practice indoors, I can imagine the touch of the rustling wind, the warm sunshine, and the cool water of the ocean.

I encourage you to explore a practice that nurtures your unique place in the interconnectedness of Creation!

To see a video of an individual practicing all eighteen Shibashi movements, click here. As you’re watching, keep in mind that each movement is repeated three times.

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