Workshop Number: 25
Leaders: John Smallwood
Who May Register?: Open to All
Worship/Worship-Sharing: 10%
Lecture: 10%
Discussion: 10%
Experiential Activities: 70%

Who May Attend?
only full time attenders (participants should attend all week)

This is principally a movement workshop. We will discover the experiences of body awareness, movement, internal energy (chi), and meditative practice. Participants will be taught a simplified tai chi form called Tai Chi Chih. We’ll also explore selections from the Taoist contemplative classic, the Tao Te Ching and Quaker worship.

Workshop Description

In times of rapid change and upheaval, where can we look for emotional and spiritual balance? A place to start is by sensing our own bodies in movement. We can also experiment with contemplative mind. Tai Chi movements and the Tao Te Ching offer us these paths of exploration.

Come and explore the experience of body awareness, internal energy flow (chi) and meditative practice. You will be taught a simplified qigong movement form called Tai Chi Chih ®. If you have never done tai chi, you will learn to do this form. If you already know this form, you will deepen your experience. For more information see:   We will practice this form daily to explore its physical, energetic and spiritual effects. At the same time, we will explore the Taoist philosophical roots of tai chi by reading selections of the Tao Te Ching.  This foundational, contemplative text was attributed to the sage Lao Tsu. A poetic masterpiece of 80 short chapters; its written form first emerged about 2400 years ago. But its contemplative wisdom is ancient. We will attempt to discover how Lao Tsu’s mystical poetry informs our movements and how our movements inform Lao Tsu; and how both affect our approach to living in these tumultuous times. 

At workshop’s end, you will know the Tai Chi Chih® form, be conversant in the basic principles of tai chi, the Tao Te Ching and silent waiting Quaker worship. More importantly, you will hopefully feel within you the texture, sensations and transformation these diverse practices can offer. 

No prior experience or commitment in Tai Chi, Taoism or Quaker worship is necessary for this workshop. What is required is openness to explore experiences outside traditional boundaries.

Tai Chi Chih ® is a series of slow, gentle movements, done standing. Thus, participants should be fit enough to stand and move on their feet for at least 45 minutes periods.

Bring with you: loose fitting clothing, comfortable shoes or heavy socks. It will be helpful if you are familiar with the Tao te  Ching text before you arrive at the Gathering. Also bring your sense of adventure!

Leader Experience

Leading this workshop has allowed me to share with Friends the incredible interblending of spiritual resources that have nourished me.

I have been worshiping with Friends for many decades, often holding leadership positions in my monthly meeting and Baltimore Yearly Meeting. I have traveled widely among Friends, worshipping with conservative, evangelical and orthodox Friends. I have lead spiritual workshops and retreats for the Yearly Meeting, Quakerism classes in my monthly meeting. For several years, I was the worship leader in the Friends in Christ group.

Within the last twenty years, I have also been drawn to eastern practices. I am an experienced tai chi chuan student and an accredited Tai Chi Chih ® instructor, who has taught Tai Chi Chih ® classes of all levels. Using chi energy, I have a small healing practice as an accredited Reiki Practioner and an accredited Medical Qigong Therapist.

 Within myself, all these practices have blended with a robust interplay. I have lead similar workshops teaching Tai Chi Chih at the 2009, 2010, 2012, 2014, 2015, 2017, 2018 and 2021 FGC Gatherings. All of these were well received. 

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