Adapt to change with tai chi

Tai chi is a tool for adapting to changing conditions. Change prevails wherever you look. The weather changes. The wind blows, doesn’t blow, blows hard, then is a breeze. The temperature is hot, cool, cold. It’s raining or it’s dry. Grass is green and moist, or brown and maybe tinder dry. A tree never stops growing. It’s always at some point of changing from a sprout to a tree. Even a desert plant that seems never to grow is active in its own way. Water flows in a stream or river. It is never the same river, they say. People change. We flow, or stumble, through emotions all day and even through our dreams at night. Change prevails. Tai chi is a method of adapting to change by focusing on the act of change itself.

It seems human beings are the only ones who want things to stay the same. Sometimes we call it the “status quo,” sometimes simply inertia. Not that it’s a bad thing—it’s serves its purpose. But some things we hold onto no longer have purchase in a ever-shifting world. They are not serving other than to hold us back from evolving. Staying the same will not always protect us from the onslaught of the constant flux that surrounds us. The whole universe is in constant flux. Time itself seems constant, yet it is nothing if not constantly changing, moving ever out of the moment into another. The present is not the same now as before.

We can change what and how we think and we do it all the time. Rather than thinking you want things to stay the same, you can want them to find equilibrium—balance. That balance is what taijiquan attends to.

Tai chi still requires adapting and shifting with the tides, but it gives you a way to do that.

Many beginners who give up before reaching a threshold of practice view tai chi as too much to learn. You tell yourself that you’ll never be able to learn all that. As a teacher, I have had many difficult moments trying not to blame myself for that thinking. I want to make tai chi available to as many people as I possibly can, but they quit before they learn enough to see what it offers them. I know now that tai chi hasn’t failed them, nor have I, rather they have failed to see the potential for themselves, electing to go the same route that has led them away from a personal evolution.

I don’t blame them, even though change is easier than they think. The key is to approach it with a mind of taking small steps and learning a little at a time and building a bunch of little pieces of knowledge and ability upon previous learning. One day you’ll look back and see a massive body of knowledge buoying you up.

It’s not a matter of overcoming inertia as much as acting in spite of it. Inertia seems much more overwhelming than possible to overcome. Too great of a mass of resistance. And yet, often the simple act of standing in Wuji, the first posture of tai chi, is enough to set you off on a new path of awakening.

 

Learn more at DurangoTaiChi.com

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Pure, clear, strong and free

I have to remind myself often of this. If I don’t, my conviction wavers.

Pure heart,

Clear mind,

Strong body,

Free spirit.

Mind-body health goes both ways

I tend not to feel good unless my body feels healthy and strong. My mental health is influenced by my physical health. It goes both ways, of course. People seek out feeling good through artificial means, such as drugs, pain killers, mind altering chemicals, and other forms of mediated reality. But they don’t usually give the body itself everything it needs, which is strengthening exercises.

Even if it’s just walking, which is as good as anything else. Walking, or hiking, can round out a complete exercise practice along with a package of various practices, such as stretching, qigong, single-basic exercises and tai chi form.

Don’t take my word for it. This is just my personal opinion. Take a walk. Walk until you have shifted your view from yourself to the countryside. By then your mind will be cleared and your body will feel better.

A special key to internal movement

Do you know what is so special about internal movement arts? Control. Mind control specifically. That’s where it begins. You focus your attention on a focal point in the body, initiate movement in certain directions and shapes, then sustain that focus. Control the mind and the body follows.

Control doesn’t mean just to hold some place still. It means being more capable of effecting change. It’s very important to realize that control is not about maintaining status quo, it’s about overcoming inertia.

Bully through the pain

You can’t bully your way through the pain. You have to negotiate with it to alleviate it. Give it a wide breadth while you keep a mind towards overcoming habitual postural positions that feed it.

About Tai Chi and Social Connection

Tai chi classes are social experiences, learning new things in a group setting and practicing together. You get exercise, but you also can reap the benefits of social connection.

Research shows that older people are happier and less lonely when they spend time with others. Research also shows they can even be healthier. Evidence suggests that we even live longer by virtue of being part of a regular sharing and caring group.

It doesn’t have to be your biological family, either. A tai chi family is just as powerful in overcoming loneliness and in creating a safe environment to explore activities that are shown to be positive influences for physical and mental health.

I invite newcomers to see how tai chi and social connections can make their lives more engaging and active. March is beginners’ month.

WALKING A MINDFUL MILE

All the doctors and such tell us we should walk at least a mile a day. You would think that anyone could walk a mile who is reasonably healthy and able to. How you walk that mile can make a big difference in the potential benefits. How you walk. It’s in the walk. Do tai chi when you walk and you’ll get a lot more out of a mile. Observe how the parts move and how each contributes to the whole as it makes its way through your mindful mile. You’ll have to walk many days, a mile a day to sustain attention on the many parts available to examine. Quality not quantity.

Is tai chi the old person’s exercise?

Did you know that tai chi is where people go when they’ve washed up on the shores of “retirement.” Even in the USA, many think that tai chi is for “seniors.” That’s a euphemism considered appropriate for “old people.” Of course, when you reach a certain age, as everyone will, you realize you have misused, overused, and otherwise abused your body to the point that you do feel old and weak—age notwithstanding. Believe it or not, tai chi adds perspective to the use of one’s body at any age. Just sayin’.