How Tai Chi and Arica Work Helped Me to Be a Better Therapist and Person
By Catherine Cody, LCSW
I was raised in a small affluent town in Fairfield, Connecticut. My father was a general practitioner who helped all people, some for free, some for an apple pie and some for money. His focus was service to all.
After a few bumps in the road growing up, I headed to social work school so I could be of service and focus on people in need with real problems. To do my work I moved to New York City. There I met a man who invited me to a gathering of people for a lecture. They all had a light in their eyes, and I wanted that light too! So, I went on a retreat: an Arica 40-Day training, a program created by Oscar Ichazo. Arica Work opened my eyes to seeing and feeling that humanity is One, that we are all One. We connect with each other and share the light in our eyes and in our souls. I met Oscar Ichazo and other Aricans and called myself an Arican, too.
I was now working for a drug counseling program in Manhattan. My clients were mostly street people with issues with drugs, addiction, and the crimes committed to get drug money. I knew nothing about these kinds of people, some of whom came straight from jail, but I felt our common humanity. We were One.
Tai chi was talked about a lot in those days in Arica and I was told that Oscar recommended it. So, I began to study tai chi with Patrick Watson and fell in love with it and went on through all the classes and levels until I could teach it to others. I shared the tai chi principle of “strength through softness” with my clients. I learned in class that we could practice push hands in more ways than one and I focused on “emotional” push hands. Working with tough and often angry individuals, I learned when to accept and receive the anger and how to sink and relax emotionally and send their feelings back with love and understanding.
And then, Roots and Branches Five-Element Qigong was developed within our tai chi school. With the help of senior teacher Pat Gorman, I learned a short set of moves and postures that we turned into a therapeutic system to help my individual clients find themselves. With these moves they learned to draw energy from the earth, send their spirit out into everything they needed, draw back into their center and let go of everything they didn’t need, find their way or purpose and finally come to a full and loving sense of self repeating “I Am.” Amazingly, it worked!
And my last thought is that tai chi is about strength through softness, balance, gentle fluidity and flexibility. It is also known to some as the Supreme Ultimate, a martial art. It is not always talked about as a martial art, but it is a martial art, no matter what level you are just now. As we mature it can be looked at as the ultimate fight between the aging mind and aging body and the spirit. For example, the aging mind says, “I want to do that.” The aging body says, “I can’t.” The spirit, the martial artist, the warrior says, “Yes I can, watch me, I’m on my way!”
And that is what this work with Patrick and Oscar has done for me.