Wow, what a week. There were 100 participants from all around the world immersed in the beautiful setting of the International Centre and the incredible Three Religions Temple, where we chanted in the morning. We were led through a combination of practises including tai chi, Taoist and Confucian chanting, standing and sitting meditation and working together and looking after each other, by FLK President Marsha Eberhardt and Secretary Jim Nicholson. FLK director Judy Millen was also present and helped us with instruction, stories and laughter. By the end of the week we felt very different; much better than before.
On the first day Marsha helped us orient ourselves to the week ahead with a wonderful talk and we were soon in groups discussing our expectations. It felt like it would be a special week when people in every group expressed the similar feelings that they had come with open minds and hearts and were ready for whatever the journey offered. And what a journey it was, what an adventure.
Over the five days Marsha and Jim took us further and deeper into the Taoist arts and traditions. Our sitting and standing times increased daily and became more comfortable and rewarding. The momentum gathered and a nice rhythm began to emerge; chanting in the temple (so beautiful), breakfast and tasks, chanting, tai chi sets, standing meditation, group practise, lunch and tasks, chanting, tai chi, sitting meditation, talks, supper and tasks, tai chi, talks, films. Each day was different but similar, except for our experiences, which were different day by day and different to each other. As we progressed the practise revealed more of itself and revealed us to ourselves in new, interesting and exciting ways.
Dan yu and tor yu improved with instruction, help and practise. We found that we could centre better, be more balanced and drop inside more comfortably. These feelings followed naturally into the meditation and chanting and were also developed by them. On the Tuesday evening we received more guidance at Tony Kwong’s class and watched some of our instructors receiving instruction, which was humbling, inspiring and helpful.
Practising and sharing in groups and working together on tasks helped to quickly develop a sense of community and very quickly, a warm and trusting atmosphere grew that allowed us all to talk with a candid openness due to our shared journey along the path and understanding of the challenges we all commonly face. Encouraged by Marsha, Judy and Jim we shared our experiences, as they shared theirs, and laughed a lot, at ourselves and at each other, usually at one and the same time.
We also; chanted with Mr and Mrs Tam, watched a film of the Fenway, our new International Centre in Florida (in case you’ve not heard about it), and were told how the project currently is and will develop by Jean Swantish and board member Allen Pearce from USA, had a fascinating talk about the All Souls festival, what it means and why it’s held, and watched our amazing new film: A Moving meditation for body, mind and spirit. We were stunned by the quality, the honesty and down to earth nature of all those featured and the breadth and depth that it covered (put link in here?). “It makes me feel proud to be a part of this,” said Henriette from Denmark, and this was followed by a murmuring of agreement from the whole group. Somehow this film sums up who we are and what we do and also encompasses the variety of experiences we had over the last week.
There were many tales of health improvement in body, mind and spirit from participants including Harolyn from Marathon, who had only been doing Taoist Tai Chi™ for 10 months and was concerned that she was going to need a hip replacement but found that the pain in her hip quickly went as she practised and followed Marsha’s instructions, as did a clicking in the joint, albeit more slowly, until she was able to sit and meditate cross-legged in comfort.
This was such a rich programme in so many ways and we all felt truly fortunate to have been part of it. Many aspects of the practise came together and made it feel, for me, like a big reward for the previous year’s training since the last FLK week I attended. But even this fantastic week of wonderful experiences and friendships had to come to an end and yes, we had to let it go…otherwise how will we make the most of the next one?