Overcoming Adversity Using the Principles
of Tai Chi Qigong
unexpected happens. You go about your day, as usual, expecting
everything will go as planned. But, more frequently than you'd
like, your plans are thwarted by unforeseen events. Whether
it is a frantic call from a loved one, a traffic jam or accident,
or a sudden loss, your body has just been thrown out of balance.
These are the moments when awareness of how you are feeling
can help you adjust to the changed or new circumstances. Relaxing
can help your body and mind come back into balance. Not only
will this awareness place your body in a better position to
handle the onslaught of anxiety, fear, anger and other unpleasant
emotions, but your mind will also find a familiar quiet place
to pause in preparation for action.
Training your body to move slowly and
smoothly through space puts you at an advantage. Since you
constantly move through the changing dimensions of space and
time, it helps to take a short break and pay attention to
this challenging moment in time. The first principle of Tai
Chi Qigong is to relax and let each new moment pass quietly.
Absorb the positive energy and thoughts that come from withdrawing
into a quiet space in your mind and let any negative thoughts
go. Let past, present and future meld. Try not to fixate on
present events or future possibilities. You might drop your
shoulders down, round your shoulders, make some crunching
and stretching movements with your face, yawn, make a fist
and wring out your hands, and suddenly realize you're holding
your breath. So, go ahead and exhale with a sigh. Notice that
your mind is talking a mile a minute. Self-talk emerges from
the background of noise and static in your head and comes
to the foreground as you shift from outside activity to inner
mindfulness. The relaxation of your body helps the relaxation
of your mind. You are in tune and prepared to respond to adversity.
Aren't you proud of your multitasking
abilities? Are you like the millions of people who push to
the limit each day in an attempt to achieve the impossible?
Is your world fast-paced and filled with activity, obligations
and responsibilities? Does your body ever talk back, becoming
tense, getting a cramp in your neck or hips, reminding you
that things aren't going exactly the way you want them to
go? Just stop, look and listen. Are you breathing shallowly
in your throat or upper chest? Have you hunched up your shoulders?
If so, then you've stopped the circulation of Chi*,
what the Chinese believe is your life force. When difficulties
arise, step back, take a deep breath, and relax. Give yourself
the gift of time and space to solve whatever difficulty has
arisen. Now, let's take it one step at a time.
Tai Chi Qigong helps improve your posture,
both literally in the way you physically stand, and figuratively
in the way you face your routines each day. The second principle
of Tai Chi Qigong says, " The spine should be straight
in order to align the vertebrae." Standing tall lengthens
the spine, allowing the universal chi to flow uninterrupted
through the spine, channels and meridians. This gives you
physical strength to function with a clear mind and solid
body. On another dimension, standing tall can reflect your
intention to operate from a position of integrity. Take no
short cuts; be honest in your relationships. Stand upright,
knowing that whatever risks you may confront, you are taking
the right path. Stand tall when you feel weak inside, and
"Whistle A Happy Tune" just like in the show "The
King and I." The outside will affect the inside.
You will feel as good as you look! And look as good as you
Yin and Yang
Principle three regards the separation
of yin and yang. When the material world was formed, a separation
of the "One" initiated heaven and earth, land and
sea, up and down, light and dark. You live in a universe that
harmonizes and integrates these two entities. When these forces
clash, you have arguments, conflicts and discord. Tai Chi
Qigong moving forms alternate the weight of your body from
leg to leg and side to side. Work with these forces to both
push and pull, inhale and exhale, lead and follow. Feel the
soles of your feet planted into the earth, rooting you to
the ground. Feel your torso lifted and light as you move.
Try to allow your body to become empty and full as you breathe
chi in and exhale out. Over time you will learn when
to apply pressure and when to let go. You will learn to keep
your awareness both active and receptive. The principle of
yin and yang enables you to stand in a form of readiness.
This requires skillful observation of how your actions affect
others, and awareness of how you would want to be treated
by others in a similar situation. You are fixed in a position
to challenge danger, misfortune or adversity simply in the
way you read and reframe each situation. Do you view the glass
as half-empty or half-full? Can you find the positive attributes
in this seemingly negative situation? The mind will affect
the body whether you work consciously to improve the outcome,
or fight against it. Mindfulness will help you maintain good
physical and mental health, reducing the stress in your life.
Lead from the Center
The fourth principle is to lead from
the center. Your center is the dan tien, the place
where chi gathers and is stored. Traditionally, this
place is located an inch or so below the navel. Tai Chi Qigong
teachings state that you can create more energy through breathing,
meditation, visualization, stillness and movement. Two meditation
techniques most commonly used are:
- concentrative meditation, in which you focus
on a single thing like your breathing
- an image, a sound or mantra
- mindfulness meditation, in which you are aware
of all thoughts, feelings, sounds, or images that pass
through your mind.
In Tai Chi Qigong you can integrate these
techniques through a mixture of standing, moving, and chanting
with attention to thoughts, inner and outer images, and your
breathing. Daily practice, usually 15-20 minutes a day, helps
quiet the mind as thoughts enter your awareness and are released
unhindered. Meditation helps empower and free your mind of
blockages. Affirmations to the self will also build positive
energy into the dan tien. You can change your luck
to good fortune with the knowledge that as you affirm love,
kindness and forgiveness you store positive energy in each
cell. Medical research has proven the beneficial effects of
meditation upon health, both in withstanding stress and in
healing the body after illness.
Beautiful Lady's Hands
The fifth principle, called "beautiful
lady's hands," indicates that the hands are always in
a position of elegance and beauty. Have you ever noticed that
your hands can be relaxed and yet strong? They can perform
complicated manipulative tasks, lift and carry heavy loads,
and yet stroke a baby with a gentle caress. Your hands are
powerful tools of communication and symbolize expressive body
language. They can signal to others and the self, both on
the unconscious and conscious levels. Why not use your hands
in their most gracious manner, through training? Tai Chi Qigong
forms utilize many hand and finger movements to press acupressure
points, to lead the way, give direction, grasp chi
energy, express a concept, and most importantly to allow flowing
chi to enter the fingertips. These ancient techniques
show you how to use the fingers and hands to apply pressure
and resistance, creating opposing forces which enable the
body to strengthen the tissues, bones and muscles. In addition,
you use the hands to enhance and direct the flow of chi
around and through the body and all the organs. You strengthen
the aura and spirit of the self as you circulate the chi
and bless your body with infinite energy. Improve the quality
of your life by applying the creativity and power in your
hands, your actions and movements each day. The energy you
create will expand out to all living things, creating a safe,
loving community and environment.
Tai Chi and Qigong (pronounced "chee
gong") are ancient Chinese exercises. Tai Chi and Qigong
are based on the theory that energy, called Qi or Chi, flows
through your body along energy pathways called meridians.
If the flow of Chi is blocked or unbalanced at any point on
a pathway, it is thought that the person may become ill. Tai
Chi and Qigong are done to increase a person's energy (Chi
or Qi) and improve health through gentle, graceful, repeated
Tai Chi and Qigong are also founded on
the ancient Chinese philosophy in which nature, including
the body, consists of opposing forces called yin and yang.
It suggests that good health results when these forces are
in balance. Tai Chi and Qigong movements are done in an attempt
to help restore the body's balance of yin and yang.
Tai Chi is a series of movements done
either very slowly or very quickly to move the body's Chi.
People use Tai Chi as a way to combine meditation and movement
and to improve and maintain their health.
Debby Bruck, BS, MS, MA teaches Qigong
in Cary. Call about classes for the upcoming New Year 2003
at Rex Cancer Center, Meredith College and NC State University.
Call 919-469-0195, email firstname.lastname@example.org,
or visit http://www.homeopage.com.