Whenever I speak about Tai Chi, the first reaction I get from people is: “This is for old and sick people”. It is true that the regular practitioners age in China is middle age and retired people, but the art itself doesn’t require a certain age limit. I have been a practitioner of Tai Chi since 2008 and been teaching it since 2016. This article is based on my knowledge and experience about Tai Chi.
Practicing Tai Chi is done mostly at very slow pace and it requires probably more patience than other sports or arts. However, Tai Chi is not only for old people.
If you want to understand and experience the concept “Softness overcomes Hardness”, Tai Chi is definitely for you. Perhaps we should first understand the meaning of Yin and Yang and where the world stands now. Everyone is focused on doing more, achieving more. The world is spinning at faster pace. Less and less people think about standing still and just being, slowing down to see where they are heading. The snow ball effect is so strong that people think arts such as Tai Chi are not matching their life style.
Many came to try my classes and they didn’t come back purely because it was too slow for them. For someone who doesn’t have the basic understanding of martial arts, Tai Chi might be perceived as a type of slow dance with no purpose. Tai Chi is not a dance, even though it looks like this from outside. Every move has meaning and purpose.
What are the benefits of Tai Chi?
- LETTING GO
Relaxing and letting go in all ways – physically, emotionally, mentally – is the main focus of the Daoist practice and the core of Tai Chi. Becoming a Tai Chi master is available to anyone who wants to become the master of relaxation at the deepest level of his/her existence. From the stress perspective, Tai Chi works more on the nervous system rather than your muscles. Al our anxiety lies down in from the nervous system to the joints, muscles and deep tissues. This get engraved in our body makings us feel the anxiety even if, after a period of time, there is no cause for anxiety. Tai Chi helps the entire body at the deepest levels to relax, unwind and stretch in such a way that the anxiety is slowly replaced with inner peace.
Being flexible is a quality that may save your life in many situations. It is common knowledge today that every emotion has a direct impact on your body. Stress, anger, sadness, fears transform our body (at all levels: muscles, joints, internal organs, etc) from water to ice. From flexible to rigid. Ice breaks, but water yields. Practicing daily Tai Chi gives the physical body a break from stress, making it more flexible. We can’t stop emotions! We can only improve our reactions. Being flexible will improve our ability to react better.
- FREE WILL
How are Free Will and Tai Chi related? When we live in a fast pace, we get into the automatic pilot habit. We wake up, have breakfast, work, come back home, sleep. And every day passes by, with all related thoughts and emotions associated. We live from one day to another without even questioning our habits. We are the slaves of our habits. Tai Chi has been for me best metaphor to question my life. While slowing down your body to almost non movement, you have the chance daily to question your actions, to plan better and to make decisions better. This is the main reason Tai Chi has been called by many practitioners: moving meditation.
Tai Chi practitioners master their center of gravity. It would not be possible to execute any move correctly without having a permanent control on the body center. How do we translate this into the day to day life? Our Ego is connected to attachments outside our being. We identify ourselves with jobs, money, titles and others. All these are outside of us. If we stay connected to our inner being at all times, we don’t talk or act from EGO attachments from outside. We stay humble in our approach.
- REPROGRAM YOUR THOUGHTS
My first experience with Tai Chi was in 2008. After few months of practicing daily, I have noticed that within minutes after starting the training, I would completely let go of any persistent thoughts experienced throughout the day. I didn’t understand it but just enjoyed the benefits of it.
Simply put: Tai Chi practice requires an ambidexter approach. The perfect correlation between both sides of the body (left and right) at a very slow pace will simultaneously activate both sides of the brain. This process is scientifically explained by one of the newest scientifical researches called Neuroplasticity. When you have a certain thought, it is reflected by an electrical neuropathway in the brain. By activating the entire brain, the thought is getting cancelled. Honestly, even if you can’t intellectually totally explain what just happened, I can assure you experiencing it will be enough.
- BETTER HEALTH
I strongly believe that Tai Chi improves health on all levels, with direct impact on all areas of one’s life. Being a low-impact practice and no putting pressure on your heart, the correct and consistent practice of Tai Chi leads to life quality enhancements.
|Physical health||Emotional health||Mental health|
|No back pain||Less stress||Improved intuition|
|Improved circulation||Anger management||Improved concentration|
|Balanced blood pressure||Deal better with unwanted emotions||Boost cognitive functions|
|Improved joints condition||Reduced risk of depression|
|Fibromyalgia improvements||Improved memory|
|Internal Organs flexibility|
|Improved muscle strength|
|Reduced risk of falling|
|No neck pain|
|No knee pain|
|Improved spine condition|
On the path of enlightenment
- Master! What should I do different to become enlightened? asked the student with intense curiosity.
- Chop wood, carry water, sweep the floor, clean the toilet. Said the master.
One of the most inspiring movie series I have watched is “Kung Fu” starring David Carradine – a deep philosophical approach to life and martial arts training. The movie depicts exactly the style of Tai Chi, a slow-moving action but with peaks of emotions and then letting go.
There are many paths to become enlightened and Tai chi is just another one of them. There are many masters on Earth on their own path. If you want to understand the dialogue above, study some masters lives and you will notice a similarity: they all chop wood, carry water, sweep the floor and clean the toilet.
Becoming a master in any field requires most of all patience and discipline. If you want to master your vital energy and health, practicing Tai Chi is definitely worth considering.
TAI CHI – THE PATH OF LEAST RESISTANCE
The path of least resistance is an ancient Daoist concept. Some might consider it philosophical but I like to always keep it simple for everyone to understand. What is one thing that even an uneducated person can understand? Natural events. Science proven experiments. So, before we look at Tai Chi and its connection with the path of least resistance, lets first take 2 examples:
Water – rivers are choosing their course based on the same law. A river will never flow uphill or against an obstacle. It will naturally choose the path of least resistance.
Electricity – electrons will follow the path of least resistance.
In Tai Chi, the body relaxes at maximum to avoid any tension or stress.
SLOWING DOWN TIME
Have you watched the movie “Click” with Adam Sandler? Did you ever wish to have his magical remote controller to stop time? With Tai Chi you can actually slow down time and use this for detaching from your time line, meditate and come back whenever you want. The main benefit of this technique is to be able to understand the situations you are going through from an observer point of view.