Tai chi as a method for retraining mind and body

As a beginner you can think about learning taijiquan in a number of ways. As training the mind to change how the body moves, which in turn changes the brain’s function and structure. A yin/yang method for retraining mind and body. Then you have the energy generated from tai chi movement.

Without experience, the “mind-body connection” is a rather abstract notion. Ancients say mind and body are one. Instead, we are a physical body and an energy body. Learning, feeling, exploring this distinction is the ultimate discovery available in taijiquan.

Nevertheless, from the modern perspective, a couple of distinctions stand out that can help familiarize you with tai chi and clarify practice.

In one, you have the brain and its various functions in relation to the body. This is the biology of body and brain. Exercise improves function on many levels.

Then you have intent, volition, vision that are part of the “mind,” integral in the process of learning tai chi. We use attention and intention to move, often  hoping to overcome old, habitual ways of moving that have become less productive in a body that grows increasingly less functional.

Then there’s the feeling of the movement itself—the qi, or energy, or life force. I like the sound of the force of life. It has its own mind that’s like an awareness that feeds back to you—if you listen.  Tai chi is a method of listening. The energy communicates back to the brain as you interact with it through movement.

By virtue of your practice, you feel the results, which is a form of knowing. Researchers record endless streams of information demonstrating, even proving, that, in the final analysis, the proof is in the practice.

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