Posted by: Mike Ferruggia | April 27, 2010

Equanimity and Detachment

A lot of times, the answer to a difficulty in our lives is simply a matter of changing our perspective and attitude. It doesn’t change the thing itself, but it changes our perception and our reaction to it. One of the qualities tai chi reinforces is equanimity, or calm under stress or pressure. It’s hard to do and takes practice, but it is an important quality to have not only in a fight but in many life situations. Keep your cool. Allow yourself to assess the situation, and don’t get pulled off balance by the forces of the ego–anxiety, worry, anger, fear. This is what the I Ching means when it speaks of non-ego and non action.

So, how do we let go of our anxieties and fears? I suppose it’s a question of will power, deciding to let go and not let something control our every waking moment. Letting go and detachment, as well as equanimity are qualities that come to us from both the taoist discipline and the catholic. It takes a great burden off one’s shoulders when you turn over a matter to the Higher Power of the I Ching or to God of Catholicism. THis is not to be interpreted as an abdication of one’s personal responsibilities in life. But it is an acceptance that there is what we can and are obligated to do out of moral duty, and what we cannot control or have any effect on.

The I Ching offers us a Way: humility and acceptance, purifying inner thoughts, innocence and truth, quiet perseverence and gentleness, patience, equanimity, detachment, modesty. Do we use these qualities in life? Do we try to resolve conflicts, deal with difficulties in this way, or like the novice at push hands, do we revert to our old ways, stiffen up, get angry, get flustered, lose our cool, fly out of control? Practicing tai chi chuan refines these qualities, but these qualities also refine our tai chi, as we practice with gentleness, softness, innocence, modesty, patience, and so on.

The change in perspective, the change in attitude, is like the flick of a switch. You just decide to do it. Let it go. Perhaps it’as easier to let go if you are living a tai chi life because you get it, you understand. I know a person who is being hard headed about something, and you can see it in his posture, hard, stif, unbending, unforgiving. If you sink into a tai chi stance and become ‘song,’ it’s hard to stay mad for very long.


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