From Tai Chi to Duality
According to Chinese cosmology, in the beginning there was a big void, called the Wu Ji. The void held within itself all possibilities, but was beyond needing to take any form. However, in order for creation to come into existence, there needed to be a creative force. This force was called Tai Ji (pronounced in the West as Tai Chi).
Tai Chi is inherently complete within itself, but for any manifestation of existence to function and interact with the rest of creation, Tai Chi needs to separate and differentiate into opposites of Yin and Yang – the world of duality. All Yin and Yang pairs can be perceived either as opposites or as a complementary flow. However, both elements are partners within an interconnected continuum, with many gross and subtle relationships between them. The interplay between Yin and Yang is what we call life today.
At a deep human level, the idea of Tai Chi represents the capacity to balance everything within you: from mundane to spiritual. In order to implement the possibilities of Tai Chi, you need a method, hence the fluid movements of Tai Chi. Philosophically and Spiritually, Tai Chi represents personal enlightenment, a part of the universal enlightenment of Wu Ji.
Tai Chi manifests in duality, as a multitude of combinations of Yin and Yang, which at human level may be decoded as stories. Human beings are born storytellers. Their life unfolds through stories. Everything in life is based on a story, called ‘reality’. Starting with our parents, continuing with our friends, colleagues, teachers, bosses and life partners, we keep listening to their stories until we build our ‘own life story’, developing our own set of values and beliefs, which later becomes our instructions manual of life.
Every day is a life by itself, with one or more stories to read, write, listen, tell and most importantly, live. Some stories seem to be imposed on us whether by family, society, religion or local traditions. The truth is that nobody can force a story on us, unless we allow it to happen. Using free will becomes crucial if we want to be in charge of our life story.
How Stories Affect our Body
Whenever we encounter a new story, it is mainly a mental process. Even though it happens only in our mind combined with imagination, every single story affects our physical body, because every story is charged with an emotion, and every emotion creates a hormonal chemical reaction in the body.
Let your mind flow through the stories below. Watching movies can be addictive predominantly because we immerse ourselves into a world of fiction. Almost every kid dreamed to be Superman or Spider Man. Some of them even bought a tailor-made costume just to dress one day like their favorite super hero.
Watch the stories first, test how you feel while watching and then continue to read on.
Story 1 – Kung Fu Panda Epic Fight
Po is a panda bear who becomes the most important Kung Fu warrior in the country. With no prior training in martial arts, Po is being chosen by fate and he is being given a dangerous task: to safeguard the secret scroll, which no one yet dared to read. Po is the perfect embodiment of a good and honest character that shows that willpower is needed to write your own life story. Watch to see what happens, and watch how you feel.
Dopamine is the hormone of motivation¸ a substance that drives our willpower. It is stimulated by a reward of pleasure, regardless of the reason. In storytelling, the suspense can trigger the motivation to find out what will happen at the end of the story. The main effects of dopamine are motivation, focus and a better memory.
For those who love to study, dopamine helps you to focus better on the subject, becoming more efficient. Dopamine plays a role in how we feel pleasure. It’s a big part of our unique human ability to think and plan. It helps us strive, focus, and find things interesting. The habit of triggering dopamine can help you achieve your long-term plans.
On another note, surprising someone (in a nice way) stimulates the levels of dopamine for both parties involved (you and those surprised).
Story 2 – Fishing
It defines the most human quality of all: empathy. Oxytocin is normally produced in the hypothalamus and released by the pituitary gland. It plays a role in social bonding, reproduction, childbirth, and the period after childbirth. Oxytocin is released into the bloodstream as a hormone in response to love, and in labor. This helps with birth and bonding with the baby. It is also associated with empathy, trust, sexual activity, and relationship-building. It is sometimes referred to as the ‘love hormone’, because levels of oxytocin increase during hugging and orgasm.
The last twelve months have been rather hug-less because of the new norms imposed by the COVID 19 pandemic precautionary measures. This, unfortunately reduces the overall production of oxytocin in humans.
Helping others, it genuinely increases the release of oxytocin in our bodies, with the effect of less anxiety and stress. Making this part of your life story is a wise choice which in exchange will ensure maintaining high levels of personal health and wellbeing.
Story 3 – Laughing with Mr. Bean
It is not worth living your life without smiling and laughing every day. No matter how much stress we have, a good joke will fade away the stress. And a joke is ultimately, just another story. Endorphins play a major role in the body’s inhibitory response to pain.
Endorphins are responsible for producing the euphoric state in cases such as runner’s high, sex, orgasm, listening to music, and eating appetizing food.
Chocolate is the perfect example that works for most people who want to increase the level of endorphins. Meditation, if practiced regularly can also be used to trigger endorphin release.
Choosing a funny story when you start a meeting can set the tone within the room, making people more relaxed and acceptant of any message you intend to communicate. It is the same in a relationship, but most importantly, in the relationship with self.
Getting into the habit of laughing and smiling every day will change your body chemical composition, enjoying a stronger immune system.
When living with stress, fear and anxiety, our body has the tendency to resist, or in other words, saving us from situations of crisis. Stories filled with fear, disbelief, anxiety and anger trigger hormones related to our survival.
The body doesn’t make the difference between a story and the reality, mainly because the reality is made of stories. As part of the body’s fight-or-flight response, cortisol is released during stressful times to give your body a natural energy boost. But when being stressed becomes a habit, the prolonged existence of cortisol will affect the blood sugar levels (causing diabetes) and the bones density (causing osteoporosis).
As a personal experience, whenever I had accidents or injuries, I felt I am more powerful than ever, but it doesn’t last more than half an hour. The most powerful natural drug produced by the human body kicks in. It is called adrenaline. When a real body injury happens, it is a life saver. It cancels the pain to the extent that you can actually reach the emergency room by yourself, to save your life, even with a broken arm. This can create feelings of dizziness, light-headedness, and vision changes.
Adrenaline causes a release of glucose, which a fight-or-flight response would use. When just a story (and not a serious accident or injury) unfolds, the physical body doesn’t make the difference. The adrenaline kicks in again, to assist in the survival process. But there is no survival needed, it is just a story.
When adrenaline is released, there is a massive energy consumption in our body, which can be felt long after the incident. This negatively impacts the immune system and our overall health. The kidneys get depleted and that results in several other energetical imbalances of the body.
Tai Chi – Observer Mode
Tai Chi means going back to a place of neutrality, a place of balance between Yin and Yang. Looking from there, the stories will be only stories and nothing more.
Being the observer of your life can make you smile when you hear a story, because you know it is just another story. Practicing Tai Chi means practicing being in the observer mode, centered, not being affected by the stories you receive, a place of wisdom, where free will exists at the levels of mind.
It is the place where you decide which stories you allow to pass and which ones you don’t, knowing well which ones will benefit you and your wellbeing.
Decide well what is your next story!