Peace in the Body Rev. Wm Guillermo Ortiz


My father was my first movement teacher, and a tough one at that. He ran a small moving company in downtown Los Angeles called Ortiz Transfer which consisted of him and his young sons. He’d yell out his “lessons” to us while on jobs, "Use your legs!" "Watch where you're going!" And my favorite, “Dammit, RELAX!"

For years I resented what I viewed as forced labor. I realized early on I
preferred to move my body in a different way. I became a cross-country runner and devoted my weekends to dance. Eventually, I became involved in the study of t’ai chi ch’uan in my mid-twenties.

T’ai chi ch’uan (“supreme ultimate fist”) has its roots in ancient China, being both a sophisticated martial art and a complete health system. It is a movement sequence which integrates body and mind, inner and outer energies with the very forces of heaven and earth. The basic principles are deep relaxation, natural breathing, suspended head top and slow continuous movement. When these principles are learned and embodied in practice, a state of energized calm pervades one’s entirety.

It was this feeling that sustained my practice through many years and
provided a foundation for physical and spiritual awakening. I realized that our bodies are exquisite and magnificent creations that can avail us to the most extraordinary states of peace, poise and happiness. It seemed clear that when we treat our own bodies with respect, care and kindness, we are more likely to treat others the same. With this understanding, I moved towards a greater desire to become a peacemaker and undertook my studies with the seminary.

I believe that generating peace in our bodies, by whatever means, leads to generating peace in the body of the world. So may we breathe, relax, align and connect with our embodiment of this precious human life.

To paraphrase the words of St. Francis, “Lord, make my body an instrument of your peace.”