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Slow down |  Slowness is energy

Slow down | Slowness is energy

I've always been fascinated by people practicing Tai Chi in public. The first time, I found it strange – “But what are these people doing?” » – Belief in artistic performance. Then, as the trend took hold, I wondered if it wasn't just a pose, and then I ended up thinking that maybe it was an activity for older people and esoteric people.

In my life, I've done yoga, Pilates and meditation, nothing intense, but Tai Chi remained a mystery that I never really dared to uncover, until the idea of ​​this group file on the importance of slowing down came about. Tai Chi is a very slow thing, and by exploring it, I can satisfy my curiosity at the same time. Because ultimately, what I find so intriguing about tai chi is precisely its assertive slowness.

Because I always had a lot of difficulties with meditation, I never believed that Tai Chi was for me. It's stupid, but meditation exhausts me, and I can't do it. The little hamster runs through my head too fast, and my thoughts go in all directions — that sentence I read earlier, what's for dinner, call the accountant for my taxes — and I count down the minutes until the session is over, frustrated with myself. That is if I don't sleep on the rug while standing on the floor.

Yet tai chi is in a way “meditation in movement,” explains Marie-Eve Gamache-Perron, of the Art de Chi Montreal school, who contacted her for a group workshop in Laurel Park.

To my surprise, I really liked it. We feel a kind of meditation, but the very gentle sequence of movements prevents the mind from going elsewhere, by grounding us in our body without rushing. This mind is that the attention economy is constantly eating us away.

Photo by Josie Desmarais, Press

One Sunday in Laurier Park, our columnist practiced tai chi.

In fact, if the mind wanders, we simply cannot follow the movements, which I did not know. The beginner has to stay focused, but imagine the other level of concentration he reaches when he incorporates the gestures. This is without counting the seconds to maintain a difficult position or the number of repetitions to strengthen the muscle.

Photo by Josie Desmarais, Press

Marie-Eve Gamache-Perron, from the Art de Che Montreal school

We're not just telling you to “don't think about anything.” The head has something to do. It's slow, but very full at the same time, not flat.

Marie-Eve Gamache-Perron, from the Art de Che Montreal school

After the session, I certainly don't pretend to tell you what Tai Chi is, which is an ancient practice. The Art of Chi Montreal, which belongs to a network of centers around the world, offers teaching based on the Stefanovic Method – as there are many traditions, schools, approaches and philosophies. “Our school was founded by a great Chi master in the 20th centuryH 20th century, explains Vladi Stefanovic, now deceased, Marie-Eve. He studied under professors from different disciplines – Japanese, Chinese and Indian – and looked for common points between them. »

In fact, there is no real word in French to properly define what “chi” is, which we try to define with the expression “vital energy.” “Energy is something felt and experienced,” Marie-Eve sums up.

In Laurier Park on a Sunday morning, experiencing minor side effects from celebrating with my mother too much at Mother's Day dinner the day before, I participated with about a dozen people in a session led by Johan, an experienced teacher. She reminded me of Jose, a great friend of my late mother-in-law, who had been practicing Tai Chi for a long time. The same Olympic calm of the face. There were as many men as women, including a couple.

Photo by Josie Desmarais, Press

Tai Chi has nothing to do with performance.

I thought I would sit on a bench to observe them and not disrupt their session with my ignorance, but I was invited to participate in a qi gong routine. I don't think I bothered anyone, because everyone was focusing on their actions.

At first, I was a little nervous, I imitated their movements by moving very quickly, as if I wanted to prove that I understood and that I could be good, but very quickly, I adapted to the rhythm of the group. Tai Chi has nothing to do with performance.

In a break between two sequences, while I was asking participants why they practice Tai Chi, Diva, deadpan, elicited laughter and protests from everyone by saying that yoga requires a lot of work and that Tai Chi is for lazy people. Playing on clichés. These people seem to be looking for something more than just 'fitness', they want to move without pressure and without hurting themselves, to participate without comparing themselves, to experience something more than to accomplish something – this is my very personal reading.

Photo by Josie Desmarais, Press

Our columnist practices Tai Chi

“The important thing is to feel good,” Marie-Eve remembers. In this school, there is “comfort first”, and there is nothing tyrannical. Afterwards, we feel lighter, and our “body pajamas” feel looser. » I burst out laughing. “Normally, our attention is focused outward, on speed, and actually bringing our attention back to the body level slows something down and allows us to open up to other things. Not only on ourselves, but also on others, on the environment.”

More than taking care of the body, when we work on chi, the life going on in our bodies is taken care of, and this is very tangible. It's a completely different approach and attitude.

Marie-Eve Gamache-Perron, from the Art de Che Montreal school

I was surprised to learn that Tai Chi is also a martial art. In fact, as I was looking for Che one Sunday morning in Laurier Park, I had the impression of repeating movements from my childhood, when we imitated Bruce Lee's karate in slow motion as in his films, with the same pleasure. To dance too, with graceful movements, I who most of the time feel like a bull in a china shop.

I believe these are the inner power positions hidden behind slowness. Tai Chi focuses a lot on the pelvis, breathing, balance, upper muscle relaxation, and concentration. That day, in the faces of a few passersby looking at us, I recognized that somewhat sarcastic curiosity I always felt in front of a group practicing tai chi. But this time, I was inside, and I wasn't bothered at all, too busy with the feel of the wind on my skin, the smell of the emerging trees, and how perfect the temperature was, despite the gray clouds.

I don't know if I will continue my discovery of Tai Chi, but I know now that when I see people doing it in the park, I will feel more envy than amusement.

A major launch exercise will take place on Sunday, from 10 a.m. to noon, at Sir Wilfrid Laurier Park in Montreal. Training will continue every Sunday at the same location until August 25. Free and open to everyone.

Visit the Art du Chi School website

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