Dancing Tao

cover image of practical guide to ear candling

Practical Guide to Ear Candling by Russell Sheppard from Amazon.com

Austin, Texas

I moved to Austin, Texas in the fall of 2001.  Austin is a great place for a lot of reasons and it seemed like a good place to start Dancing Tao.  My plan was to get settled in and start offering classes, perhaps even start a studio.  I wanted to find a way to make a living doing something that would be good for others while supporting my own growth at the same time.

While I was putting things together I also started checking out what was happening in Austin.  Jampa Stewart, one of my first Healing Tao teachers, is based here with his Healing Tao Institute.  He was very welcoming and supportive of my ideas for Dancing Tao.  I took a few workshops with him and got much more deeply into the intricacies of Master Chia's short, short form of tai chi.  Jampa also helped bring Master Li Jun Feng to Austin.  He's a highly regarded teacher associated with the Academy of Oriental Medicine.

I also experienced watsu, a form of massage based on shiatsu that occurs in a chest deep warm pool of water.  Tom Thacker, whose practice is called Watsunami, introduced me to this form of stretching massage.  By the second session I was able to release tension that I'd never been able to get to otherwise.  Truly a special experience.

Another new experience was shared by a friend, Rachel Gentry.  She turned me on to ear candling, in which I had always been interested.  Rachel just does it for friends and I felt lucky that she could take the time to apply this noninvasive form of ear wax removal.  It may sound rather inconsequential, but I discovered that there was so much wax buildup in my ears that it had been affecting my balance.  All those years of odd moments in tai chi when I just sort of slipped over the edge of a move were suddenly revealed to be an equilibrium problem caused by a level of ear wax that drops just didn't take care of!  Of everything I've done, ear candling offered the quickest and most dramatic effects on my general grounding.

I eventually started teaching by renting space at Casa De Luz and the Austin Ki Aikido Center.  I also offered a couple of classes through the Informal Classes program at UT Austin's Texas Union.  Teaching these classes was a good experience for me.  They showed me that there was real interest in Austin for what I had to share and that I could build a practice here, though it would take a while.  But I also realized that building a teaching practice as a business wasn't really attractive to me.

So I decided to focus my business energies elsewhere and to look for other opportunities to pursue the Dancing Tao concept.  But by that point I'd had a website up for awhile and people seemed interested in the ideas.  So I finally decided to put this site together, to pass on some of my influences and acknowledged the wide range of wonderful people I've had the good fortune to work with.  In fact, in learning to put together websites I met another great Austinite, Virginia DeBolt who is the webmaster for MusicAustin.  And there are even more special people that I've encountered along the way than get mentioned here.  Perhaps some day I'll return to this work in a public way.  If I do, I'll let you know right here at Dancing Tao.



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