16 April 2021

The T'ai Chi Centre summer intensive 2021

We can finally confirm that we will be running this year's intensive back at the Kingston Leander Sea Scout hut, our usual venue. As many folks cannot attend this year due to Covid travel restrictions or shielding we will have a 4 day event rather than the usual 7 1/2 days. It will run 2-9.30pm 24th-27th July. We won't be having a Friday night warm up session. 

It is still possible for people to stay in the venue. We will all bring our own food this year, rather than sharing dishes. Teas and drinks will be available as usual and we will have a kitchen rota for that. Cost will be £45 per day or £25 per half day, by cash, bank transfer or Paypal to Mark. Concession price is £24 per day.

Petersham Sea Scouts hut will now not be ready for hire this year, but we will be able to be there again in 2022.

Many if not most of us will have had one or both of our vaccine jabs by the end of July, and with our planned hygiene measures, bringing our own food, and providing good ventilation, the summer workshop should be no extra risk to anyone regarding Covid. If measures are relaxed as per the government plan, there should be no remaining restrictions by July 23rd, when we will gather.

However, you may feel you do not want to be indoors with people for a long period. If you normally attend, but feel you won't come to Kingston again this year, please join us in October at the proposed 4 day autumn workshop, hopefully at Fetternear Hall as usual. Next month we will see if we can organise the dates we want for that, after Scotland comes out of its restrictions. 

Also, I know it's not the same, but I hope that Mark allows me to livestream at least some of the teaching from the first day, Saturday. Particularly the bit where we do the warm ups, Short Form and Long Form, and some Salutations. That would make for a rather lovely couple of hours for people to join in. And don't worry, anyone who hates to be onscreen, I will point the webcam at Mark and check who's in view... Then, if you are at home, you can at least make a cuppa, clear your living room floor, and join in with some medicinal T'ai Chi together. At Tea break we can all say hi if we want to, via the little Zoom boxes...

24 March 2021

Brief pause and news

I am away from home while my boat is being mended and painted so I cannot do much in the way of planning, organising or blogging during this time of dislocation. Zoom class links will continue to land in your inboxes in the meantime. Email me if you want to be added or removed from any lists. I do not have a date yet for when in-person classes at Trinity Church Hall or Mark's studio can resume, but will post them here as soon as I get them. 

I have found a wonderful, affordable riverside venue for evening classes in future, where I live. I taught my Zoom short form classes there the last two weeks and it was lovely, 360 degree river views! Soon I will introduce Mark to the person who runs the space, and hopefully as soon as restrictions allow, we can have spacious, airy indoor space for pushing hands, evening groups, heartwork and occasional Sunday afternoon sessions. Watch this space!

Very best wishes to you all from near the Petersham venue, where I am staying until tomorrow. i shoul dbe back aboard my home on Friday.


22 March 2021

Term dates and summer workshop latest

NEWS: Easter holiday. There will be no break in online classes with Mark during the Easter period, as he is not able to go away due to lockdown restrictions - and he lives only 60 metres from the studio! He understands that you might not be able to make it to class over this period, or may want a break, and will make sure no one gets left behind on anything that gets covered. However, as many folks may also be stuck at home, he thought you might like to join him for T'ai Chi anyway.


Summer workshop: I will be meeting the Sea Scouts at Petersham soon to arrange returning to that wonderful riverside venue this summer for the 15th Annual Intensive. Of course we cannot know what, if any, restrictions will be in place at that time, how long the workshop will be, if not the usual full week, and many other things. I went to see the new building yesterday from the outside, it is mostly completed and looks fantastic, airy and big, perfect for rainy days. The outdoor space is still great, big enough for classes and camping even though there is now a cool bushcraft area. The fire site is still there with plenty of wood for bonfires. 

We will provide hand gel and the new venue toilets are going to be clean and accessible, so hygiene will not be a problem. It is likely we would all bring our own packed meals this year and have a rota for serving teas, rather than a free-for-all in the kitchen. But this is all easily doable and so worthwhile. I will post more here when I know more. Last year I also bought a 4m square gazebo for when I moved boat. I will be ideal as a dry store for bags and shoes during the day so that we can stay outside for all but loo visits. Now we just all need our vaccines.

11 March 2021

This week's left side film

Sadly due to a technical mishap on my part this week's class did not record. This weekend I will record Mark teaching the instructional part of the lesson, and send a link to you all as soon as I can. Sorry for delay. I am away from home for two weeks while my boat is mended and painted, so everything is 5x harder / time-consuming than usual. 

23 February 2021

Films of Mark's Left side classes

I have just edited all three lessons so far. I will send the link to the first one with lesson 4. 2 and 3 should be with you already, if you are a member of the class.

February news & Summer workshop planned dates

Classes are continuing online until Easter with Caro and Mark. A link to the recording of last night's left Side class should be available today when I have edited it. 

We are tentatively hoping that the postponed 15th Annual T'ai Chi Intensive will be able to run this year. I will contact possible venues today and hope to have more news at Easter. The proposed dates so far are the usual last week of July (24-30th) with our usual warm-up the night before for partnerwork on eve of 23rd. Obviously everything depends on a certain virus, and on the UK government's handling of it, and on so many other variables. But I am writing this plan here, in the hope that it may come to fruition, and that we will all be able to push hands again soon. 

Perhaps we will need an outdoors venue and covered area, and to have to bring our own packed meals, not to share. We will certainly have lots more handwashing and hand gel applications, and have windows and doors wide open. Maybe tea and coffee will be made by a couple of people each break, and laid out, on a rota, likewise with washing up. We are adaptable folk, us T'ai Chi people, and with humour and a bit of planning, as well as lots of care, there is a good chance we can have our week or at least 3 or 4 days, of workshop. 

15 February 2021

Classes with Mark and Caro continue until Easter

Get in touch to be put on any of the class invite lists, or to be taken off!

Classes continue until Easter, exact dates to follow soon.

Not Two

Last week Mark mentioned in class the piece of writing below, by the Third Chinese Zen (Ch'an) Patriarch. He sent me this link and I quote it all here for your interest. I have added bold type to the passage Mark discussed, the section which had inspired John Kells about 'not-two'.


The Great Way* is not difficult for those who have no preferences.  When love and hate are both absent, everything becomes clear and undisguised.  Make the smallest distinction, however, and heaven and earth are set infinitely apart. If you wish to see the truth, then hold no opinions for, or against, anything.  To set up what you like against what you dislike is the disease of the mind.  When the deep meaning of things is not understood, the mind's essential peace is disturbed to no avail.

The Way is perfect, like vast space where nothing is lacking and nothing is in excess.  Indeed, it is due to our choosing to accept or reject that we do not see the true nature of things.  Live neither in the entanglements of outer things, nor in inner feelings of emptiness.  Be serene in the oneness of things, and such erroneous views will disappear by themselves.  When you try to stop activity to achieve passivity, your very effort fills you with activity.  As long as you remain in one extreme or the other, you will never know Oneness.

Those who do not live in the single Way fail in both activity and passivity, assertion and denial.  To deny the reality of things is to miss their reality; to assert the emptiness of things is to miss their reality.  The more you talk and think about it, the further astray you wander from the truth.  Stop talking and thinking, and there is nothing you will not be able to know.

To return to the root is to find the meaning, but to pursue appearances is to miss the source.  At the moment of inner enlightenment, there is going beyond appearance and emptiness.  The changes that appear to occur in the empty world we call real only because of our ignorance.  Do not search for the truth; only cease to cherish opinions.

Bodhidharma Image 2Do not remain in the dualistic state; avoid such pursuits carefully.  If there is even a trace of this and that, of right and wrong, the Mind-essence will be lost in confusion.  Although all dualities come from the One, do not be attached even to this One.  When the mind exists undisturbed in the Way, nothing in the world can offend, and when a thing can no longer offend, it ceases to exist in the old way.

When no discriminating thoughts arise, the old mind ceases to exist.  When thought-objects vanish, the thinking-subject vanishes, as when the mind vanishes, objects vanish.  Things are objects because of the subject (mind); the mind (subject) is such because of things (objects).  Understand the relativity of these two and the basic reality: the unity of emptiness.  In this Emptiness the two are indistinguishable and each contains, in itself, the whole world.  If you do not discriminate between coarse and fine, you will not be tempted to prejudice and opinion.

Bodhidharma Image 3To live in the great Way is neither easy nor difficult, but those with limited views are fearful and irresolute; the faster they hurry, the slower they go.  And clinging (attachment) cannot be limited.  Even to be attached to the idea of enlightenment is to go astray.  Just let things be in their own way, and there will be neither coming nor going.  Obey the nature of things (your own nature) and you will walk freely and undisturbed.

When thought is in bondage, the truth is hidden, for everything is murky and unclear, and the burdensome practice of judging brings annoyance and weariness.  What benefit can be derived from distinctions and separation?

Bodhidharma Image 4If you wish to move in the one Way, do not dislike even the world of senses and ideas.  Indeed, to accept them fully is identical with true enlightenment.  The wise man strives to no goals, but the foolish man fetters himself.  There is one Dharma, not many; distinctions arise from the clinging needs of the ignorant.  To seek Mind with the (discriminating) mind is the greatest of all mistakes.

Rest and unrest derive from illusion; with enlightenment there is no liking and disliking.  All dualities come from ignorant inference.  They are like dreams or flowers in air; foolish to try to grasp them.  Gain and loss, right and wrong; such thoughts must finally be abolished at once.

If the eye never sleeps, all dreams will naturally cease.  If the mind makes no discriminations, the ten thousand things are as they are, of single essence.  To understand the mystery of this One-essence is to be released from all entanglements.  When all things are seen equally, the timeless Self-essence is reached.  No comparisons or analogies are possible in this causeless, relationless state.

Consider movement stationary, and the stationary in motion; both movement and rest disappear.  When such dualities cease to exist, Oneness itself cannot exist.  To this ultimate finality no law or description applies.

For the unified mind in accord with the Way, all self-centered striving ceases.  Doubts and irresolutions vanish, and life in true faith is possible.  With a single stroke we are freed from bondage; nothing clings to us and we hold to nothing.  All is empty, clear, self-illuminating, with no exertion of the mind's power.  Here thought, feeling, knowledge and imagination are of no value.  In this world of Suchness, there is neither self nor other-than-self.

Bodhidharma Image 5To come directly into harmony with this reality, just simply say when doubts arise, "Not two".  In this "not two", nothing is separate, nothing is excluded.  No matter when or where, enlightenment means entering this truth.  And this truth is beyond extension or diminution in time or space; in it, a single thought is ten thousand years.

Emptiness here, emptiness there, but the infinite universe stands always before your eyes.  Infinitely large and infinitely small; no difference, for definitions have vanished and no boundaries are seen.  So, too, with being and non-being.  Don't waste time in doubts and arguments that have nothing to do with this.  One thing, all things, move among and intermingle without distinction.  To live in this realization is to be without anxiety about non-perfection.  To live in this faith is the road to non-duality, because the non-dual is one with the trusting mind.

Words!  The Way is beyond language, for in it, there is no yesterday, no tomorrow, no today.

* NOTE:  The Chinese character translated as "Great Way" or "Way" is the character for "Tao."  --  Weinstein

07 February 2021

Invites are go

Hi all, hope you are having a good weekend despite the snow.

Invitations to all these classes have just been emailed. Please get in touch daytime on Monday if you don't have the invitations you need to join your Zoom classes. Thanks!

Monday eve Left Side with Mark

Tuesday eve London Dance group with Mark

Wednesday morning Short Form with Caro

Thursday eve Long Form with Mark

01 February 2021

This week's classes with Mark

I took the weekend off for a bit of birthday relaxation so the Zoom invites are only going out this morning. Please check you have the invites you need at least by the morning of the class. Thanks! 

Mark is recovering from something and says he will do the filming as soon as he feels up to it. He will be teaching this week, however. 

We will be recording the fortnightly Left Side Zoom class so that people can watch it at a later date. It will most likely be uploaded to zoom, or we could send the link to the students. Mark has not yet decided which it will be. 

30 January 2021

Next week's online classes

Tomorrow I will send the links to all the classes with Mark and myself via Zoom. Please check you have links to all the classes you'd like to attend, at least a day before the class, so that you have time to contact me to resend it if it has gone astray. Sometime people are contacting me 5 minutes before the class. So far I have been able to resend from my phone, if I am in the room assisting Mark, or from my laptop if I am at home, but this may not always be the case in future if I am away, or otherwise engaged. A bit of notice makes it easier. 

We'll also be recording future Left Side sessions, as folks have asked for those as a resource. If you have other classes with Mark that you would like recorded, let me know. I think Mark is more amenable to that now he is experienced teaching by Zoom.

Have a lovely weekend, I am having a birthday day off, apart from this one post!

27 January 2021

Our new website is live


This month I have been mostly staring at the laptop screen!

Great River T'ai Chi has a new online home - www.greatrivertaichi.com please have a look and let me know any thoughts, email me with suggestions, mistakes you may have noticed, or anything else. I have chosen a very simple style of layout, as people spend so much time online these days, it is good just to provide clear text, the information they may need, and some nice pictures. Crucially, this Wordpress site, like my art site at www.carolineross.co.uk, is optimized so that it is easily viewed on any device, phone, tablet or laptop / pc / Mac.

The old website now redirects there too. All the content has been refreshed or rewritten. I just have a few photos to find over the next few days and will keep adding at least one article to the blog each week. This events blog will stay here, as it is where we put all the 'housekeeping' messages and announcements for those already part of the schools. 

Today's new Sort Form lesson is up on the Dropbox. Best wishes to all, Caro x