ROCKPORT — They find peace in regularly practicing this ancient Chinese martial art.
‘They’ are the men and women who meet weekly at the Rockport Community House for Friday sessions of tai chi, which is based on gentle movements performed either standing or sitting.
There is no leader, per se, but Amy Seabrook coordinates the Five Circles Tai Chi class which meets from 10 to 11:45 a.m.
“This is my favorite hour of the week,” said Kathleen Adams of Rockport. “It makes the air around me feel good. I look forward to seeing each person in our class — love the sharing of instruction and of thought. It heightens my awareness of everything — in a positive way. The balance is mental, as well as physical — that I feel we gain.
Tai chi is recommended as a way to keep fit while growing older, when compared with calisthenics and other forms of exercise. That’s something that Kasha Gula of Rockport found to be true.
“I was hurting myself coming into my 70s in every form of exercise until I began tai chi. Also; I was falling like someone cut the strings on a puppet,” Gula says. “Tai chi is a marvelous form of exercise. It frees and refreshes me. I have gained a sense of balance and equanimity in this practice.”
But besides building fitness, flexibility and endurance, some find the focus needed to perform the movements is a form of meditation.
“Tai chi stimulates my mind, I think, even more than my body,” said John Seabrook of Gloucester.
“I wouldn’t come if it were just about meditation,” said Nancy Sullvian of Gloucester. “I can’t keep still with simple meditation. However, with tai chi and this moving meditation, your body takes over and your head is quiet. You clear your mind.”
New members are welcome and the first class is free. Afterward, dues vary from $5 to $7.50 per class, depending on attendance. Seabrook says most people see, or feel, the results of regular practice.
“Our postures are more relaxed as if the edges have worn off,” she said. “Our muscles’ holding patterns have softened. Each of us has a better sense of balance than before.”