Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Temple of Heaven Park

Tai Chi in Temple of Heaven Park

One splendid day last September, I visited Temple of Heaven park in Beijing.  I was deeply moved by how people came together to "play Tai Chi", practice ballroom dancing, and to write beautiful Chinese calligraphy and poetry.  To move their bodies and experience nature in community.   

The man in the center above is a friend and former Tai Chi instructor of Dan, our tour organizer (black t-shirt, below).  Our group was encouraged to try Tai Chi, and the combination of cool breeze, warm sun, gently flowing body and energy, kind encouragement from new friends...well, truly it was like being in the temple of heaven!   
Practicing push hands, a technique that encourages attention, awareness and coordination

I met the DH (dear hubby) in a ballroom dance class 17 years ago.  Dancing holds a special place in my life, and I'm always interested in observing other dancers.  Much to my delight, people in China practice dancing in the parks!  I've thought many times in the past year about trying to get something like this going where I live.  My educator side also noticed how the instruction was being done.  Dance was being taught like a martial art - make the form, hold it, repeat, repeat, repeat.  It wasn't about constant movement but about body learning of the correct forms.   
Dancing in the Temple of Heaven Park

Below, a gentleman writes in  beautiful Chinese calligraphy.  Notice the large brush.  He is writing with water; this work of art is fleeting.  Joy in the doing.
Ephemeral art

My experience in Temple of Heaven park has returned to me often.  There are things to be learned here, and I am grateful for the opportunity.


Snap said...

Steph, your lovely post reminded me of a novel I read several years ago that I still think about: The Last Chinese Chef by Nicole Nones. I really think you'd like it.

Steph said...

Snap - I will request it from the library now!

relevanttealeaf said...

What a beautiful experience for observation and participation. I can picture you being so agile on your feet, Steph. I'm certain you're a beautiful dancer!

Marilyn said...

Love seeing tai chi out in public. The Lan Su Chinese Gardens has Tai Chi a couple times a week. Jim has taken Tai Chi before and I keep trying to encourage him to go to these gatherings. Maybe I should go too. Sometimes we do Tai Chi in swimming.

Anonymous said...

It was an amazing day! I was fascinated by the diversity of activites going on in the park.

Mary Jane

Colleen said...

I just went to Tea & Human Health symposium in DC this week. Lecture on tea and Bone Health discussed study on post menopausal women. Results after 6m were significant better bone biomarkers with green tea and adding in tai chi resulted in improved muscle strength AND quality of life! Was very exciting first study with people not animals.
And that news doesn't even touch on the beauty and community spirit of practicing as group in park! It was spectacular- one of my favorite experiences in Beijing

Steph said...

Thank you, Colleen!

Anonymous said...

Hi Steph,

I remember thinking that day that there was such a diversity of activites at the park and how everyone was enjoying the day.
Loved the ballroom dancing.

Mary Jane

Angela McRae said...

Wow, that calligraphy is amazing! And I love the idea of "dancing in the park" (you've got me humming that to the tune of Springsteen's "Dancing in the Dark" now!).