by Sam Langley: This morning I’ve awoken with a desire to write. My Tai Chi practice can wait for an hour…
At the moment everyone is thinking about health, their own and their family’s and friend’s. People might start to think about ways to strengthen their immune system but what can be done? Eating better, sleeping better and exercising more will help.
Or you could just practice Tai Chi. Believe me when I tell you that it will help more than anything else. Whilst exercise alone might give some benefit, mindful exercise that promotes relaxation is better. Stress and anxiety have a powerful and detrimental effect on the immune system. Tai Chi practice calms you down to a profound degree and so undoes the harm caused by stress.
Being sedentary is not good and so we need to move but we need to move in the right way. Going to the gym and lifting weights is not the best way to exercise, sure you might look toned but you are probably physically tense and posturally imbalanced. Tai Chi is all about balance. You never force anything. Even if it’s done badly it’s very unlikely to cause injury. If it’s done properly, however, the health benefits are myriad. After a short while, you’ll notice that you feel stronger, fitter and significantly calmer.
Many people take up Tai Chi after ruining their bodies with other physical pursuits. Tai Chi is a martial art and in the long term can be extremely effective but it also works as a different kind of self defence: Self defence for your health. Karate, Jujitsu, boxing and Muay Thai all have their place but are very likely to cause damage long term. Go to youtube right now and look at the power and grace that Chen Xiaowang displays, you won’t find many septuagenarians from other disciplines that can move like that!
There is something special about Tai Chi beyond the mechanical. Something energetic. Tai Chi was probably influenced by traditional Chinese medicine which has a different way of looking at health to the western model. It’s quite understandable to be sceptical when you hear people talking about Qi energy and it’s not something I spend much time dwelling upon but….there IS something there. Go and have accupuncture and you’ll see what I mean.
Tai Chi is an internal art. It is the product of hundreds of years of introspective practice. What happens when you look within? When you feel your own body? Beginners often think they are feeling Qi. They might be but what’s more likely is that they suddenly start to experience their own bodily processes. On a simple level, this can involve a growing awareness of what you’re doing wrong. I stopped drinking coffee soon after starting Tai Chi because I realised that my heart was racing. The calmer you become, the more your awareness grows and the more you perceive in yourself.
There are many reasons to start Tai Chi, especially right now and not many reasons not to. Sitting at my computer writing this I feel the need to move and so I’m off to practice.