A Workshop with Invaluable Insights
In her workshop in Reston, Virginia, in only one day, Sherry Kent took a group of about 14 people (of various levels, abilities, and ages) into a deep experience of the pivot line and then connected it to simple, powerful sensing hands work that anyone could do and appreciate.
She began by introducing us to the three points on our foot that are designed to bear our weight. She showed us anatomical drawings of these three points and led us through a series of exercises that allowed us to feel the three points and when the weight was equally distributed among the three and when it wasn’t.
We put this new awareness into motion by shifting from one foot to the other, and most importantly, by shifting back and forth from a 70/30 stance to a 100% stance to see where we ended up when we arrived on each foot. Were the three points touching equally? Or was the weight mostly on one or two points or some other part of the foot?
We then imagined a “track” running diagonally from the “sweet spot” on one foot (where the weight was evenly distributed on the three points) to the sweet spot on the other foot. We shifted from one foot to the other along the “track,” noticing when we drifted off the track and returned to the track.
When we reached the sweet spot on the front foot, we were in 70/30. When we reached the sweet spot on the back foot, we could align the spot with our dantian and the center of the top of our head to experience our pivot line. Finding our pivot line allowed us to feel our 100%’s and to truly RELAX in the channel between heaven and earth. And taking the time to actually reach the pivot line made it easier to rotate.
This work was invaluable to improving our tai chi form. However, Sherry also took things to the next level by leading us through simple, accessible, but very powerful sensing exercises with a partner. In the first one, both people held one dowel between them. In the second one, both partners “embraced” the other person by putting our hands on each other’s shoulders and feeling the contact between the shoulders and arms, which allowed us to feel the movements of our partner’s body.
Both sensing with the dowel and in the embrace amplified our sense of touch and made it easier to feel the other person’s body and movement as we went back and forth. While we shifted, we listened for when our partner or we left the “track” and began to drift. These moments of drift or float showed us our moments of vulnerability and were an opportunity for our partners to stay centered and show us that we were drifting.
The entire day sensitized us to our feet, how we transferred weight from foot to foot, to the pivot line and to the moments when our partners were stable or unstable along the way.