At Tai Chi class last week, while practising the 10-form sequence, I felt a sudden instinct to extend my body farther out. So I began to stretch, lean forward, expand. Moved my arms further apart, expanded my chest fuller, widened my stance, sat deeper, rose higher. I felt larger, grounded and graceful, majestic.

I have always associated grace and beauty with a contained space. Expanding my body in Tai Chi, I thought, would make me look ungainly, awkward. Plus, I have nearly always been told that I am a petite, slender person, so it naturally follows that a person like me would take up less space, literally.

Hmm, I think I have grossly underestimated my body: size, height, width.

I am not a petite person. I take up a decent amount of space. But the truth may be that I internalized the petite-slender narrative well enough to begin taking up less space, literally. Perhaps, I shrank a little. Thankfully, I didn’t develop the habit of slouching or hollowing my chest or hunching the shoulders.

One day, I dumped the graceful walk. Placed my legs wider apart, dropped the shoulders, spread the arms out a bit. It felt good, freeing. I wasn’t swaggering or posturing; it simply felt like I was taking my rightful place, the actual volume of air-space occupied by my body.

I am sure there are all kinds of metaphors hidden (or not) in here, but I am going to leave it at that.

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