Slow Movements Remind Me of My Grandpa

The hallmark of our modern life is a faster and faster tempo, leaving no room for the body to digest and integrate our experience.  The simplest way to step off the hamster wheel of a modern pace is to practice slow movements.

Slow movement is a radical act in our modern era.

Slow movement is an alchemy between the Yang of movement and Yin of stillness. It requires a delicate balance between control and release. As the Yin and Yang interact and alchemize Qi, life energy, starts to generate within the meridians and revitalize the physical body. That is why the hallmarks of Qigong practices are slow, deliberate movements that undulate with breath.  

S   L   O   W   

D   O   W   N.

Slow down like clouds unfurling lazily across the valley, flirting with the wind.

Slow down like sea grass swaying in the water, dancing with dappled light.

You will be amazed how much your body can remember its natural intelligence by simply slowing down the movement tempo so your awareness can find its way back into the finer resolution of the body.

When I was five, I lived with my grandpa in Tianjin, eighty miles away from Beijing. At that time, life started to speed up in China as large-scale industrialization and consumerism started to spread. My grandpa, however, refused to speed up. He is a man with a heavy frame. He did slow movements of Tai Chi in the morning, despite young boys running by him and laughing at him. At that time, Tai Chi, among other traditional cultural practices carried a shameful stigma due to the westernization and colonization mentality.

My grandpa always walked at a slow, deliberate pace his whole life, with a mountain-like dignity. He even walked that way when crossing the road, causing cars to stop and wait for him. This was during a time when there weren’t too many cars on the road yet, and no one even dreamt about owning private vehicles.

I remember feeling protective of Grandpa and wanting to shield him from other’s disparaging looks. I also didn’t understand what my grandpa was doing. Everyone else is running. People are concerned about being stronger and faster. Yet my grandpa waved his hands mysteriously like clouds floating in the mountain, quietly rising, and falling.

Years later, when I turned 18, I followed my grandpa’s path and started doing Tai Chi, which has accompanied my entire life. These slow, gentle, and water-like movements become a clear pool of water, providing nourishment and regeneration when I feel burnt by the hamster wheel of modern life. My practice became a sanctuary where I can nestle next to my grandpa’s mountain-like body.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.