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Metaphor For Your Mind

Marley Ogao

Dec 12, 2023

How does a teachers history in meditation influence classroom learning?

Jonathan Chenjeri has been a proud member of KU's teaching staff for the past "5.35 years”, according to his own numbers. Known for being a T'ai Chi enthusiast, one might spot his classes being led through breathing techniques or movements in the library. 

It wasn’t until college that Chenjeri first tried T’ai Chi after experimenting with boxing, wrestling, and Kenpo. After 15 years of practicing, he’s developed an appreciation for true form, Kata.  Chenjeri says, “You learn to follow through what you’re doing without being sidetracked.” This slow, controlled movement helps him focus.  

Chenjeri expresses the hardship of being a student in high school and the empathy he has for those of high school age. He recounts his high school years as being tumultuous, “I think one of the lessons, especially for young people, that they can learn is being able to process. Just as we process movement in a slow and controlled way, (T’ai Chi), we can process our minds and emotions in a slow and controlled way.”  Furthermore, martial arts have helped him organize his own discipline, habits, and focus. 

T’ai Chi practices mindfulness. However, combat martial arts such as MMA, focuses on the physical aspect of the art form. “Through social media and some MMA influences, there are some unfortunate popular and toxic influences on young men.”  Chenjeri shares his concern for the youth and the values the MMA instills through the role models found within its community. 

Throughout his years as a teacher, Chenjeri has noticed the positive effect that T’ai Chi has had on his students. Kids tend to be more attentive after practicing moves and techniques. He says that T’ai Chi is a “metaphor for your mind.”

While he has acknowledged that T’ai Chi might simply be a novelty to students, Chenjeri hopes that one day, perhaps farther down the line, they will look back on their high school years and their time learning T’ai Chi, and that they might use some aspects of it to help them get through life a little bit more easily.

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