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T’ai chi may lead to fewer blogposts, but they will continue

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Before this month, rarely a business day passed without an Underdog posting. This month has seen some business days without postings.

When I am not working or spending time with my family, I am spending increased time practicing t’ai chi ch’uan. At first, when I started practicing t’ai chi in 1994, I thought t’ai chi development needed at least one daily full round of the 37-posture yang style short form, as developed by Cheng Man Ch’ing. The form takes around eight minutes. Then, last fall, t’ai chi master Ben Lo advised me to practice in the morning and evening, increasing my practice to sixteen minutes daily.

Next, two months ago I started learning sensing/push-hands t’ai chi practice well beyond the few times I tried it out for a few short moments, rarely missing a Saturday morning practice now at Lincoln Park, a few blocks from the Capitol. Through talking with one of the advanced practitioners and reading Wolfe Lowenthal’s t’ai chi book Gateway to the Miraculous, I learned that doing the t’ai chi form once in the morning and once in the evening is not much more than a warmup. Thereafter, I have increased my daily t’ai chi practice to an average of 45 minutes to ninety minutes total, as I describe here. My daily t’ai chi commitment is akin to the time spent driving to and being at a health club. The beauty of t’ai chi is that the time driving to the health club can instead be used to exercise wherever a person happens to be.

My increased t’ai chi practice helps me achieve further in such essential t’ai chi practices as fully relaxing, sensing my surroundings and opponents’ actions better through quieting the mind and emptying overclutter in the mind, and rooting the soles of the feet to the ground like a plant that cannot be pushed over. Particularly with the summer weather, I am doing more of my t’ai chi practice outside, not only in the morning after I awake, but in the evening before going to bed. Where before I usually fell asleep easily but sometimes started waking up before I planned and with an unquieted mind, I am sleeping more soundly for a longer time and am spending more sleeping and waking hours with a much more quieted mind that is no less active than needed.

T’ai chi is not only a martial art, but according to the late physician and t’ai chi master Cheng Man Ch’ing, t’ai chi is unparalleled at making the strong stronger and the weak stronger, and at making one healthy in the first place so as to reduce the need for acupuncture and any other medical treatment. For those who believe in the benefits of acupuncture, which focuses on the flow of one’s chi, t’ai chi focuses on the same.

Professionally, t’ai chi continues providing me tremendous and increasing benefits. Some of the benefits come from my daily practice, including the increased relaxation, calmness, and mental sharpness that are a far cry from the dread I often felt in the pit of my stomach early on in my criminal defense career when walking into courthouses and recognizing head-on all the injustice being inflicted on too many people, including the many unjust bail orders that lead to many defendants coming to court in chains rather than through the front door.

Additional benefits come from speaking with fellow t’ai chi practitioners and reading some excellent t’ai chi books. Wolfe Lowenthal provides great lessons in fearlessness and equanimity, which is a topic I frequently blog about. One of my t’ai chi teachers is a lawyer who found the time to teach t’ai chi while a big firm law partner and while the chief lawyer at a huge corporation, all the time exhibiting total calm when I have seen him, together with his having fun pushing and bumping into me to illustrate his answers to my longtime questions about whether t’ai chi really works as a martial art. The foregoing t’ai chi benefits help me not only as a lawyer, but as a person; of course, to become a better lawyer, one must simultaneously become a better person.

Around 1997, I wrote about the overlapping benefits I derive from applying the lessons of t’ai chi, the Trial Lawyers College, and the path of peace. As I continue to apply these lessons, I learn that the thick skin I have developed over the years to toughen myself in coping with and fighting injustice, unfairness, heartlessness, and inhumanity did not help me sense often enough when others felt harm by words and actions that often roll off my back like water on a duck. This foregoing path that I have taken helps me shed unnecessary armor to better empathize when, for instance, a client feels all bent out of shape when a court starting time changes, and to better sense how everyone around me is reacting to — and may react to — me, others, and everything else taking place. This is critical in persuading and living inside and outside of the courthouse.  

I continue benefitting professionally from blogging. Blogging keeps me motivated daily to review appellate court opinions, to continue developing the art of persuasion in every aspect of trial and appellate litigation, to continue to know myself and others, and to get the word out when it needs to get out about justice and injustice. Therefore, I will continue making time to blog. At the same time, blogging is a solitary practice, sitting in front of a computer, sedentary. T’ai chi is anything but sedentary. It is alive. It is the supreme ultimate.