Bill Ryan and Kathryn Komidar
While the practices we teach originate from Taoism, people from all walks of life can benefit from exploring ideas of balance, relaxation, and self-reliance.
Harmony and Balance in Life
After 14 years leading Brookline Tai Chi near Boston, we founded Toward Harmony Tai Chi & Qigong in Northampton in 2009.
We established Toward Harmony to try to help people, including ourselves, to move toward more balance, compassion, wholeness, and harmony in our lives.
That sounds good, right? But what does it mean to move toward greater harmony and balance in your life?
The Water Tradition of Taoism
For guidance we offer our students practices and principles drawn from the Water Tradition of Taoism as developed in China. The philosophy of this tradition can be found in a book called the Tao Te Ching (or Daodejing).
We’ve learned our practices and the practical aspects of trying to live, as opposed to read about, Taoism from our teacher Bruce Frantzis. Bruce spent over ten years full-time living and studying in China and eventually became a lineage disciple of Taoist Sage Liu Hung Chieh of Beijing.
Liu taught Bruce that the Water Tradition has three core principles especially relevant to our discussion here; seek balance at all levels of your being, learn to relax into your being, and learn to trust yourself for the answers you seek about life.
Let’s briefly examine these core principles:
1. Seek balance at all levels of your being
Many spiritual traditions see love and compassion as the highest qualities one can aspire to, and the Taoist Water Tradition is among them. Yet how do you learn to embody these qualities?
Our tradition suggests that you start by trying to become better balanced.
First you learn to become more physically and energetically balanced - which will lead to better health.
A clear experience of these types of balance then will help you learn how to become emotionally and mentally balanced.
Realizing these states will help you move toward spiritual balance - out of which will naturally grow your capacities for love and compassion.
2. Learn to relax into your being
In our tradition, the “method” by which we find balance at any level of ourselves is relaxation.
But how does one learn to relax?
There are many practices and principles we teach for doing so, at all levels of your being. We'll be discussing some of these in future posts.
3. Learn to trust yourself for the answers you seek about life
In the Water Tradition you’re never asked to believe in anything.
We make suggestions about things and encourage you to try out those suggestions in your life.
If you find them to be useful to you, then you can keep using them. If not, you’ll discard them.
In this way, you’ll learn to trust yourself for answers that are useful to you.
So to return to our original question, what does it mean to move toward greater harmony and balance in your life?
Each of us can only rely on ourselves to decide. But we can learn a lot from each other and those who have come before us.
It’s for this purpose of learning from each other that we're offering this blog as a resource for our students and anyone else who seeks harmony and balance. We will share our thoughts and experiences and invite you to do the same.
We’ll explore aspects of the arts and principles we teach, as well as what it means to develop a lifestyle based on moving toward balance and harmony.
Dan Winter: Our Lead Blogger
While we’ll sometimes write about things, our main blogger will be Dan Winter, who now teaches Tai Chi with us and who is also Toward Harmony’s “chief of stuff”.
Dan started exploring the Taoist Water Tradition five years ago, and will bring the perspective of a younger person who is freshly exploring and evolving with these ideas.