|Push the Sky, Open Your Wings, Take Off
30th December, 2003
T'ai Chi is a mindful practice, an ancient, internal martial art, which gives you a feeling of success and accomplishment. It helps you find out how to slow down instead of always going faster and harder. Buddha said: "Life is so short that it must be lived slowly". Slowing down can mean you look at things calmly. Don't fly off the handle. T'ai Chi can positively affect every aspect of your life including your physical and mental health, your view of the world and the way you interact with others.
After 25 years of personal experience when I say that T'ai Chi is a highly evolved art, science and philosophy of mind and body development, for health, healing, sickness prevention and stress management, I am only endorsing the views of its many followers worldwide, who kick-start their day with some T'ai Chi. Although T'ai Chi is only 400 years old, its principles of action have been developed over thousands of years. Considered a cultural treasure in China for centuries, T'ai Chi is the culmination of martial art, traditional Chinese medicine and Taoist philosophy which is concerned with life on earth and works on the premise that the softest things in the world overcome the hardest things.
T'ai Chi took birth at Chenjiagou, a village dominated by a simple farming community and located on the Yellow River in the peaceful countryside of northern China. The continually spiralling, coiling, flowing movements alternating between slow and quick, gentle and firm, rising and sinking, contracting and expanding, combined with natural deep breathing and full intention, promote a deep sense of relaxation of body and mind by releasing nervous tension and balancing the circulation of internal energy or chi.
A typical T'ai Chi session consists of "Embracing the Tree" which allows you to feel your body and the chi and its movement. Also, it helps you to become aware of any tension in the body, which you can release by letting your breath go to the spot.
Exercises like "Push the Sky, Snatch the Yang and Open the Wings" improve the digestive functions of the spleen, pancreas and stomach, and help you to focus and concentrate. This is followed by a series of continuous circular, flowing movements called silk-reeling exercises which calm the mind, strengthen the chi and provide physical benefits. The session usually ends with a long sequence called the ‘form', central to any T'ai Chi system. The T'ai Chi Form is the greatest teacher, and through it the serious student ultimately understands the true meaning of T'ai Chi.
While T'ai Chi for seniors restores youthful pliability, joint mobility and increases energy levels, for children, it cultivates self-discipline, self-control and emotional balance, through teaching them mutual co-operation rather than competition.
There are opportunities to put a little T'ai Chi practice into practically everything you do. Sink a little and do some abdominal breathing when stuck in a line at the bank or grocery store. Instead of pulling the door with your arms, pull the door open by shifting your weight. You can try mini-meditation while the phone is on hold. Practice yielding and you will be amazed to see how relaxed you feel and how much more efficient in life you become.
Life is simple — normally you live, learn, seek happiness and love, you grow old, and you die. Whether in T'ai Chi practice, at work, in personal relationships, or shopping at the mall, live and act simply and truthfully. Get out of your own way, and you'll find all your problems begin to resolve themselves.