More and more young people are looking into tai chi as multi-level exercise and martial art for mind, energy, and body practice. Merging these and more is tai chi’s magic. No other exercise does all that tai chi does. It helps to heal injuries, maintain healthy systems functions, such as nervous and lymph systems and blood circulation. It helps to detoxify and cleanse. It trains memorization skills, too; like a crossword puzzle for the whole body, not just the brain. Neuroscientists talk about “neuroplasticity” to refer to the brain’s ability to disrupt our tendency towards inertia. It is a bio-mechanical stretching method that can improve elasticity of bones, joints, ligaments, tendons and muscles. Tai chi and qigong are preventative, a great benefit to younger practitioners in our current era. I’m convinced tai chi and qigong can reduce healthcare costs when the aging factor begins to kick in (which is younger than we think!). Live longer, live better. Enhance daily living with a daily practice. It will change your life.
The benefits of tai chi are numerous and have been known for a very long time, but Americans are really only recently learning about them. It takes time to find out about things even in these times of rapid-fire media. It takes time to to take hold and I’m finding out that people begin to notice more of what I’ve known for almost two decades when articles about research start showing up in media where people get their information.
I’ve found many interesting sources of articles about tai chi on http://news.google.com, the Google news section of Google+. For example, this one on tai chi and other modalities helping to relieve suffering form fibromyalgia: http://www.youthhealthmag.com/articles/3126/20141125/fibromyalgia-and-complementary-health-approaches.htm.
I know about the abilities of tai chi to heal after practicing it for 16 years. I’ve seen it change me and my health and my approach to health. I tell people all the time about what they could learn from doing tai chi, but it is difficult for them to believe and to change their routines in order to spend the time it takes to experience the benefits. I hope more people discover the potential and possibilities from tai chi and qigong, as well as other complementary and alternative approaches to preventative healthcare. If people don’t believe me, maybe they’ll believe references to research that seem to influence our belief systems so much.
Taiji is easy to learn for some of us. For others it is difficult and slow going. Everyone must be patient though. This need we all have in common. Won’t learn without patience, without the info, without the teacher. Without one’s self. We all also have perseverance in common. Patience evolves into perseverance. Remember why we took the initiative to give it a try in the first place. Trust ourselves that we made a good choice from which we are already benefitting by virtue of showing up to practice. Beyond that marvelous rewards and discoveries await.
Visualize moving from a specific locus on or in your body. Beginners are probably told to focus on the area just below the navel and inward a little. This is a basic practice. It focuses concentration on a point and helps to quiet the mind. … Which is difficult for many to do at first. Movement and intention activate the body’s healing abilities. The energy is stimulated. You don’t even need to do moves specific to taiji. They are naturally better of course. But taiji improves any kind of movement. Sports, labor, even sitting.
Tai chi is one of those things we encounter in living that is difficult to describe. You know it by doing it. I train learners by creating visualizations to aid them in seeing what taiji is and how to do it with their own particular bodies. Words only point the way. The actual state of being while moving with a taiji mind is barely describable.
Chinese texts are full of metaphors that are difficult to understand. Try reading the Tao Te Ching by Lao Tzu. Whatever translation you have, much of it has little resemblance to anything common to our times. Or the Taijiquan Lun, or the 13 Postures . . . . It is often said of these abstruse descriptions that the authors didn’t want enemies to steal their secrets so they wrote them as lyrically elusive as possible and taught their students the practical meanings in indoor training.
Perhaps, it is also because the ethereal qualities of Taiji and Qigong are understood more by imagination than by language. Visualizations work rather well. Even the most absolute beginner grasps images that the teacher conjures up for their mind’s eyes. The images are more visible for most of us and surprisingly you’re moving mind, energy and body in effortless harmony.
The mental processes taking place in the brain when a person practices tai chi movement are complex, even for the smallest task or movement. Doing taijiquan, you are forging new pathways in the brain that previously were unused or lay dormant for a long time. The subtle elation many feel when that occurs, that release of dopamine, is partly from opening new channels of awareness or consciousness in the brain and the body.
A brain scientist could tell you much more about what is going on in the brain than I can. But I know that the key to the complexity is to do the moves consciously, or to use a popular term of the day, mindfully. But what is that? My answer to that is do tai chi and find out for yourself. Words just get in the way.