As members of the Master Ding Academy we are lucky to have the opportunity to go on a week long residential retreat three times a year. Because of past restrictions we have not been on retreat since December 2019. But, the week before Christmas 2021 we managed to have one thanks to Sifu Ding.
Each retreat we attend has a theme. The theme for the Christmas 2021 retreat was Listening Energy (Ting Jin). The list of Chinese characters that make up the word ‘Ting’ (listening) can be read as an effort to encourage us to listen with a noble heart so we may aspire to be our highest self. This sounds quite grandiose. But if the only requirement to listen was an ear, that would be the only character in the ideogram. But the word is also made up of characters for heart/mind, righteousness and nobility. So listening requires more than an ear. In Tai Chi listening can be replaced with the word feeling. And the best way to feel is through partner work.
So, we need each other’s presence and energy to set ourselves on, and to continue on, the path to a higher self. Partner work cultivates power and sensitivity. The tested is the one building their power, the tester is the one nurturing their sensitivity.
In class, right now, partner work is mostly out of the question. For now, our presence in class must be enough. In class repeating the movements in the form gives us a window of opportunity to practice listening to (feeling) ourselves. To listen without distraction so we can cultivate concentration (heart/mind) honestly (rightteousness) in an effort to leave the class a little stronger and little bit more sensitive than when we arrived (nobility). Repetition is the key. And how do we begin? Simple, we turn up. See you in class.