Movement, Synergy and finding my Ikigai
Ikigai (ee-key-guy) is a Japanese concept that combines the terms iki, meaning “alive” or “life,” and gai, meaning “benefit” or “worth.”
Combining these terms means that which gives your life worth, meaning, or purpose. In other words, “reason for being”.
The story that follows takes a circuitous route, so bear with me.
The story begins with a book that I bought in 1991 when I was living in Kathmandu, Nepal. It was titled Tai Chi – Ten Minutes to Health, by Chia Siew Pang and Goh Ewe Hock. I had always been intrigued by the smooth, graceful movements of this ancient form of martial arts and was determined to learn it. Never mind that there was no school or teacher to teach me – I was going to learn it by myself, following the detailed instructions and meticulously laid out photographs. Well, that plan didn’t work out! After a few months of trying to teach myself and not making much progress, I put the book away, but the desire to learn was never extinguished.
The Learning Journey (oh, what a long journey it was!)
The book accompanied me to Canada when I moved there a few years later, but remained closed, on a bookshelf for over 20 years! It was only in 2016 when I finally signed up for Tai Chi lessons that I opened the pages of the book. It was still in the plastic cover I had put on it in 1991 and looked the worse for wear but was actually pristine on the inside since it had hardly been used.
The Tai Chi classes were taught at a local community centre by an amazing teacher who also happened to be a wonderful human being; passionate about the art, kind, generous and selfless about passing on the knowledge she had on Tai Chi and Qi Gong. I consider myself very lucky to be her pupil and remain deeply grateful for her mentorship.
My lifelong desire to learn Tai Chi was coming true, and with that, an affirmation and experience of the Tao principles that I have always been drawn to… Of balance, harmony with Nature, the natural order, going with the flow, inner calm and compassion. I read books to feed the hunger to learn more and get a deeper understanding of the philosophy of Tao, the concepts of energy flow, being connected with Nature and finding clarity from inner stillness.
Today, I teach Tai Chi at local community centres and retirement homes. I love the interaction with the community, connecting on a personal level and being part of their wellness journey.
I also teach at a program called Next Step to Active Living – a program for individuals with acquired disabilities, many of whom are stroke survivors. I embrace this opportunity to learn and grow from this experience; what better place to practise empathy, patience and compassion while helping individuals regain stability, balance and confidence as they prepare to integrate back into society.
Finding my Ikigai
I see now that my quest to learn Tai Chi in 1991 was actually the start of my journey towards finding my Ikigai – my life’s purpose. It took decades, but when the right time arrived, things fell into place almost effortlessly. Which underlines the Tao principle of going with the flow – not rushing things, just like a flower that blossoms at its own pace, one cannot rush one’s destiny. I knew from a young age that I wanted to help others, make a positive difference in people’s lives. Little did I know it would be through my interest and passion for Tai Chi!
My journey of learning and exploring new things will continue as I embrace each opportunity to make meaningful connections and find Zen moments in everyday life.