"My brother Patrick was terminally ill with multiple myeloma. He needed an outside donor for a stem cell transplant. I was a genetic match. If he could just get well enough for the transplant of my stem cells into his marrow, and survive the procedure, he would be cured.
"One day during my personal T’ai Chi Chih practice it came to me: the Chi circulating in my body, with a certain vibration in my stem cells, not only was nourishing and healing me with the Vital Force every second of the day, but could also heal somebody else – my brother. I realized in the most profound way, that I could share the Chi, and that I was, in that sense, a healer. I suddenly understood that each of us (whether we recognize it or not) share in this gift of healing.
"I became an accredited TCC teacher in November of 2013 and began teaching classes in January of 2014. The day after I had this realization I was teaching a class. It was the fifth week of teaching my first group of students. In the middle of class two women entered the studio. The first woman used arm braces like the ones I had seen kids use with polio. The second woman appeared physically strong, and although she was nicely dressed and groomed, she had the look of someone who had seen very hard times.
"I asked how I could help. The woman with the braces wanted to buy a yoga gift certificate for her husband and asked to sit quietly during the rest of the lesson. She found being in our presence during the movements and surrounded by the energy made her feel wonderful and relaxed. She sat on the carpet and meditated for the duration of the class. Afterward she shared how wonderful it was to be in the presence of such beautiful and healing energy and thanked us. As she remained seated on the floor I noticed how thoughtfully she assisted one of the students, who just happened to be using a walker, get into her shoes.
"Once everyone departed we took care of the gift certificate and I asked her about her legs. As a long time yoga teacher I tend to see physical disabilities and injuries as things to be dealt with – and so I can be a little bold in my inquiry. She didn’t seem to mind, explaining that she became disabled in the military, and that usually she is in a wheelchair. Her sister (her companion today) had become her primary caregiver, and was willing and able to provide the extra support she needed for balance, so now, she could spend more time out of the chair and in her arm braces. She said, “I love my sister, she is my angel.”
"She said, “It really doesn’t matter what happened. This is my body now. I accept this completely. I do everything I want to in life except two things; rock climbing and sky diving, and I can live with that. I hike, I ride a motorcycle, I do everything I want to do. I love my life. I’m happy.”
Her sharing about how she felt about her body, her acceptance of her circumstances, and this being her life, were things I really needed to hear. She was not saying she was happy in spite of her circumstances. She was saying, “This is my body. This is my life, and I love my life!” I felt a healing take place in me as I felt the inclusiveness of these ideas: We have one body, we have one life, no rejection, no exclusion. We can have the whole of life in whatever body we have right now."
First-person story by JR, a certified T'ai Chi Chih teacher in Oxnard, California. Excerpted with permission from the TCC quarterly journal, The Vital Force.