One of the challenges that confronted with is to learn to describe taiji so others will understand what it is and what it offers them. Also, I am challenged to encourage others to pursue the study of tai chi over an extended period of time in order to reap its greatest benefits.
Taiji is a multi-faceted form of exercise as well as a martial art. The exercise for health part is what attracts me the most at my age.
One thing that fascinates me, on the surface at least, is that we are so much the products of our environment that we don’t see the influence that messages in society have over our decisions to live a healthy life. For example, we have been bombarded throughout our lives with calls to eat things that we increasingly know are not good for our bodies.
At the same time, questions of what is health and what is healthy are more prevalent. As is that of who determines what is healthy, individuals or institutions. Many thinkers have said that if you want a better world, make yourself better first and the rest will happen.
Taiji may not make you live longer, although it could very well do so; but it offers the tools and methods to live a better quality of life for the time you do have. We often come by this quality of life question rather late. If I had discovered taiji earlier in life I probably would not have as many injuries to carry over into my later years, making it more difficult to enjoy life. My ability to deal with the injuries is greatly improved, however.
The freedom of youth and its freedom of movement is often taken for granted. That’s no surprise. When time has passed and we are behind the curve regarding overall health, some of us face a sometimes desperate push to get back some of what we have lost. I meet many people in this stage of self-discovery. They are the ones who come to a tai chi class or two to check it out. They are depleted energetically and their decision-making facilities are impaired. The determination and perseverance it takes to establish a regular routine of exercise and nutrition is overwhelming and they quit after only a couple of practice sessions.
When we have become aware of our waning energy, weakening body, fogging of the brain, worsening eyesight, and so on, the hour is already getting late. Even if we begin taiji at age 40 each of us likely will have to face the turmoil of resisting the tendency to give in to those influences that hinder efforts to find new ways of taking care of ourselves.
I believe we intuitively know what is good for us even while we are being influenced to consume unhealthy foods and live unhealthy lifestyles. I think that taking the step to learn taiji reflects a deeply rooted connection of this intuitive awareness. Those who persevere overcome a lot of resistance to a practice routine. The learn secrets about tai chi, about being health and cultivating a sense of well-being, and they learn a lot about themselves. They change themselves and that is where a better world begins.