out of our skins

The year of the Snake has crept in, close to the ground, yin in aspect, water and Earth. The snake has much to teach: about patience and then directness and of how these two abide together.

In our culture to say of someone that they are self-centred is to be pejorative, meaning that they are self-ish and see all that happens around them as actions and achievement reflective of themselves. They are sun and fire without the balance of moon and water.

Yet in our practice of Tai Chi we are most often encouraged to move from our Centre – to develop self-awareness. A Koan-like puzzle is thereby prompted:

Where is the Self centred?

What is it, this Self? Does it have physical life in the body? Is it within-dwelling, of flesh blood marrow and bone? Does it flash in the brain, fly through the senses? Is it, perhaps, without? Is it, perhaps, nothing to do with you and what you call yours at all?

Take the snake: Where is the beast centred; whence moving? At head, middle, or tail, it is master and mistress of the knowledge (that is patient) and action (of directness) that knows that everywhere is the centre of somewhere*…  And just when you think that maybe you, too, grasp this; just then – in a limber moment – she slips subtly out of her skin*…  and was never really there at all.

*with apologies to Ben Jonson
* see also ‘towards Solstice…’
February 2013©