This is an older article but the content is still current. “Adding a little tai chi to your life could help lower your risk for developing dementia or Alzheimer’s disease, according to a new study in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease.”
Read the whole article at: http://www.prevention.com/health/brain-health/health-benefits-tai-chi
The article provides links to DVDs and websites, but I recommend going straight to the highest (and deepest) level of teaching from the start. Take a look at http://susanamatthews.com for streaming videos and opportunities to learn that incorporate taiji qigong and movement theory. Or http://mastersfromchina.com
One of the things you’re going to hear and hopefully see for yourself by practicing taiji and qigong is that consistent efforts bridge the body’s physical structure with our energetic essence. I found a very interesting and well-written article about that from the perspective of quantum physics. Science confirms much of what the old Chinese practitioners discovered and acknowledged millennia ago (yogis and Tibetans, too, of course).
Nothing is solid, everything is energy
I recently shared a view of how the body has an awareness separate from the brain (The body’s way of knowing) and just now discovered this video that helps to confirm my attempt at voicing the insight. I just barely scraped the surface with that post. So much is explored and understood by so many across the world trying to articulate what appears to be emerging in collective consciousness. Enjoy the video.
Entering practice is like going into an edifice … one of learning. This edifice is active, ever changing, built out of the stuff of life itself. Fresh with every passing moment. To receive understanding, the learner must shift with the constant and endless fluctuations of the edifice’s structure. In this way, you and your practice are like the edifice…energetic, ever-shifting, agile, changeable, free, alive, infinite.
Note to self. Do tai chi and qigong.
Breaking old, or so-called “bad,” habits is not easy. Though we commonly think of habits as bad, we develop them in the first place because they comfort us. Habits, routines and repetitive behaviors actually have useful purposes. And while they often do turn on us (like smoking, for example), acknowledging the positive aspects of habits might actually help in leaving old habits behind. Unloading the negative attachment is the key. So how do you do it?
More and more people are finding that tai chi and qigong movement offer beneficial ways to help shift from one habit to one that we welcome. Practice evolves positive change to grow something new and fresh, which is invigorating and life-affirming. Repetitive, rhythmic movement powerfully influences our ability to loosen the hold of undesirable habits and open us up to the positive power of routine. It works for me and I know it can work for others.
(While writing this post, I searched for similar writings and discovered this one in the Huffington Post:
“Want to have a perfect posture? Rearrange your habits.”)
I welcome comments on how tai chi and qigong have helped others curb unwanted habits.
The effects of taiji practice are cumulative. You might say it’s like riding a bike. The body never forgets. But taiji is much more. The more you practice, the better it gets. Your whole being carries the effects onward even if you don’t practice for a long time. It’s like taking a pill that works on you while you just keep doing whatever you do. Of course, you do have to practice enough initially in order to store enough memory for the cumulative effects to take. But by the time you do, you won’t want to stop practicing. Nice trick, eh?
I like this brief article about how the author discovered tai chi by weeding out tech-based tools to help reduce weight and arriving at tai chi, the “unplugged” exercise. It is often the case that tai chi is the last ditch effort for people in need. I certainly believe it can help you lose weight along with improving a whole lot of other things. With mindful application, it can do wonders.
Qi Circles and modified kagles that I learned years ago from Susan Matthews and Master Wang Hao Da didn’t do much for me at first. Susan stressed them so vehemently that I had to make myself do them even though I didn’t see the value at first. Gradually over time my body showed some positive response to them. Once I actually practiced them it didn’t take so long to see the value. Now I teach them to others.
Funny thing about qi circles, most people don’t see their value when first introduce to them. These days I vary how I teach them. I often don’t even talk about them specifically as a set of practices. I incorporate them in other movement practices, such as Chen Style form. The importance of shapes and directions in tai chi and qigong are profound, and a matter of fact with seasoned practitioners. It’s different with beginners, who in the absence of clarity, doubt. Understandable … many of us start with doubt, because it was doubt that developed before we tried one more thing in attempts to solve whatever concern we had.
Qi circles are useful for a number of things. For example, they can help to develop a stronger, more responsive digestive system. They can enliven the metabolism and reduce, even eliminate, constipation. Nutrition and digestion are interests for me, because stress seems to hit me right in the gut as I’m sure it does for many people.
I also try to eat stuff that is easy to digest if I can ever figure out what that all is for my particular body. I suspect it’s different for everyone, though there are commonalities. I believe that more easily digested food could be more nutritious because nutrients are more bioavailable and metabolize more effectively. Food we had no trouble processing when our bodies were young and operating optimally may not be the best for older folks.
(https://www.youtube.com/embed/fnvtp1LfCUA“>watch a youtube clip of Susan demonstrating qi circles)
Tai Chi movement is interesting and tai chi non-movement may be even more so, especially if you are trying to detect the difference between the two. One thing to look for is if a part of the body is not moving, then the part attached to it probably isn’t moving.
For example, sometimes a part, such as a shoulder, runs up against stuck ribs which don’t support the shoulder movement. The shoulder is moving in isolation from the rest of the body, throwing off one the first things a learner should understand: whole body moves as a single unit. You can think of this, and practice it, in terms of bio-mechanics or energy. Bones, joints, ligaments and tendons, or qi (yi-qi-li).
More often than not we don’t recognize this is happening, even though we have a frustrating sense of something not being right. Aggravating it is. It’s not that it’s not right, it’s just not moving.
Here is a little solution: track this non-movement to its origins. Become aware of what moves or not. Learn how to move any one of these parts. Repeating single basic moves rhythmically is great to loosen and move stuck spots. You usually have to change your idea of how to move. You have to see it in your mind’s eye before you are able to move what you haven’t moved probably in years. Look at the joints, ligaments, and tendons, not the muscles. Move them. Feel the energy flow through the body.
Check out this sample of George Xu doing Chen form here, followed by a nice explanation
The Chinese word for central equilibrium is zhong ding. It is a place and a concept. It is the center point of alignment. It is 3D, as Master George Xu says, meaning it can have volume, or more precisely, six directions: up/down, front/back, left/right simultaneously.
A basic concept of internal movement art is to move from a single point. The attention is placed and held on that point and the movement is initiated and the rest of the body is activated. Placing and holding the attention is a listening with your whole body, not just the ears. It’s like seeing with the ears and listening with the eyes.
To practice zhong ding, move just the spine. One vertebra at a time, like climbing a ladder. The attention climbs up and steps down each one at a time. A center line comes into your view upon which energy moves. It’s like a tube aligned along the spine from tailbone to top of head. This is the place of zhong ding. This line can go deep into the earth and high into the sky.
Progress to focusing attention on the central equilibrium of the legs. Ultimately you can shift your attention to anything, inside or outside the body, and give it a central equilibrium and move from there. This is the concept of zhong ding practice.
Just about any simple move will do. Perform slowly, softly, and intend on holding your gaze on the locus; in a beginner’s case, the spine area.