About Shen Tao T’ai Chi Ch’uan
Michael and Sara Stenson are second generation Cheng man-ch’ing teachers whose studies of the Solo Exercise, Tui Shu, Da Lu, Chien, fencing, and Chi Gung exercises began in the early 70s. They have taught at Naropa Institute, Rocky Mountain T’ai Chi Ch’uan, an East West Journal conference, the Dali Lama’s Conference on Education, and founded Shen Tao T’ai Chi Ch’uan.
Our life is shared with horses, dogs, cats, and all the local creatures. Our daily lives, how we relate to critters, friends, and the land are infused with T’ai Chi — it is interwoven into our being and all that we do. We will continue to teach as long as our spirits and legs stay strong to guide us.
Michael Stenson— I was drawn to T’ai Chi Ch’uan from the first moment I began to study. T’ai Chi is the perfect counterbalance to my type ‘A’ personality, a treasure trove for my curiosity, a proving ground for the mysteries of Confucian and Taoist tenets, a circle of remarkable women and men, and a physical regimen of limitless potential. In my 70s now, I appreciate all of the years spent practicing T’ai Chi. After more than 45 years, I uncover wonderful new awareness of suppleness every time I practice. The core philosophy of T’ai Chi inspires my daily life so my passions and desires have grown quieter as I work to be of service. I have long maintained that I have two gurus: Gravity to keep me real and Levity to keep me from taking it too seriously.
Sara Stenson —T’ai Chi Ch’uan is my spiritual path. I pay attention to the subtle nuances that change my body while practicing the slow, choreographed movements — a meditation on internal awareness. Awareness and skillfulness in movement create playfulness in my dance of life. The imagery nurtures me on the sacred path of a peaceful warrior. T’ai Chi soothes me back together when the chaos of daily life scatters my energies. The life-long effects of my practice are learning to let go of excess worry and tension, thereby creating a strong yet soft resilience throughout my being. When my body is happy, my mental and emotional realms are also at ease and joyful. T’ai Chi Ch’uan is my foundation.
Affinity – An axiom of nature is that all success depends on the effect of mutual attraction. Sun and earth attract each other and all creatures come into being. Through attraction we influence not mere behavior, but the nature of all things. Making it easy for students to do the right thing by showing them where and how to relax is the cornerstone for all of the work. When working, you must first rid yourself of preconceptions and expectations, timelines and goals, and let the spirit of the work guide you.
Discipline – A bell struck with a pebble makes a small sound, but struck with a mallet a big sound. The discipline of daily practice is what makes the difference between lasting effects and mere dabbling. The wild horses of the mind can be tamed only by regular practice; a consistent, organized, firmly integrated approach. The daily practice is both a teaching and calibrating tool – it cultivates the qualities and principles of the work and keeps us grounded with the feedback that can come only from experience. A gentle, unwavering endeavor to attain the goal is the key.