Today was a beautiful day outside. We went to yard at 2:15PM and after a few laps to warm up I started to do taiji. Janda was the yard CO and I knew he was OK with me practicing because we had chatted about taiji as he brought me back from dad’s visit 63 weeks ago and he used to do it too. I was going at an exceptionally slow pace, on track to do the long form in 30-35 min when the fat, bald and racist equipment manager popped his head out of the door and said something to Janda. Janda then came over and with an obviously pained look said the captain had said I had to stop. I guess the captain had been watching on video or something and sent the equipment guy out to tell Janda to stop me. I asked Janda whom I could ask for permission to practice and he suggested I send a kite to the captain. After thinking it over I decided the captain had already made his opinion clear so I wrote a kite to the warden (now the 2nd time I’ve written the warden and I’ve only been here a month. Ha) Here’s what I wrote:
Today I was told I can not do tai chi while on the yard. You may know tai chi as the exercise that groups of elderly Chinese people perform in parks where they move painfully slowly and purposefully. I’ve been doing tai chi and yoga for about 10 years and though both have physical benefits I do them more as meditation for their calming and stress-management qualities. Chen Man-ching, the first person to introduce tai chi in America defined it as “meditation in motion” and it is the physical practice of the Taoist religion’s principle of Yin and Yang. During the psych eval here I mentioned that I used tai chi to relax and manage stress and the counselor suggested I write you to ask for permission to keep practicing to help me stay calm and centered. Unfortunately, there isn’t room to practice in my cell so I am asking to be allowed to practice on the yard or at gym.
Thank you for your time and attention,
Robert J. Heist II
Now I sit and wait to see what he says. I expect it will be a “no” mostly because that is correction’s reflex answer to everything. *sigh* The funny thing is for all the gentle mocking I originally got from some of the guys in the housing unit, they had grown to accept and even respect my practicing taiji and once I was told to stop they have been supportive. One guy even suggested I get a petition signed by everyone on A side requesting I be allowed to practice. I was touched at the thought but I suggested that appearing to “organize” the inmates might make the administration fearful and they could try and say I was starting a gang or something. LOL! For now I’ll wait for a response.