Tai chi is about changing the way you are accustomed to moving. People often work against themselves in tai chi. They provide their own resistance to their attempts to change how they move. You can describe how this is manifested in the physical movements. Though it sounds trite and cliché, we yin when we should yang, and yang when yin is a more efficient use of energy. For example, in horizontal circles or the taiji tu when shifting weight to the back leg, we often can catch ourselves pushing against the direction of the flow with the receiving leg. The yin-yang balance would be to yang out and down the front leg into the Earth and yin inward up into the back leg. A pumping motion moves each leg like a piston pumping up then down while the other receives the energy. The mind directs it and observes changes as they occur, the energy flows and the body follows. If you’re in the Durango area come by and say hello. This summer I will be leading free classes in Schneider Park on the river near 9th Street Bridge on Saturday’s at 11 am. It’s a great way to relax and meet new friends while learning a truly artful movement system. If you decide to come please let me know before you do.
Food is like a drug. A chemical reaction takes place every time you ingest something, whether it’s food, drugs, or any chemical. The results differ and sometimes they are desirable and other times they are not. I find great value in the statement attributed to Hippocrates, the Greek physician of long ago, who said “food is medicine, and medicine is food.” Ever since I heard it I have asked myself just what it means, what it could mean for us today . . . . and the more I think of it, the more relevant it is for those of us who want to live long, healthy lives.
Many of us are sensitive to subtle changes in our bodies and in the bodies of others, but we are not aware it. Growing up, we were not trained to sense changes. As I have evolved my tai chi practice, I have sharpened skills for detecting the reactions in my body resulting from eating foods. It’s incredibly powerful. I seem to be arriving at a base state of being in which my body is at rest and from that point of reference I register change. Nutritionists call it “resting metabolic state.” As I develop a familiarity with this state of being (which I am consciously attempting to do) I become more sensitive to changes in its status. Food produces powerful effects. Different food, different effects. I am still in the process of learning how exactly and registering, measuring, etc. So far, some things we have always heard, such as: don’t drink alcohol, caffeine, sucrose, etc. seem to be corroborated.
I started a new phase of awareness building when a doctor told me I was “prediabetic” and advised me to take preventative actions, mostly diet-based. I increased my tai chi immediately. And began taking a supplement that was offered to me one day after I had been struggling to find a solution to my digestive difficulties. My tai chi and gradual, but profound, changes in diet to get more nutrition out of less food is changing my brain. This is something I like to share because I believe what I am experiencing is the direction in which we as human beings have an opportunity go towards. Diet, nutrition, physical activity are keys to the future of our collective health.