The Art of Tai Chi offers a viable health solution to people living all around the world. Hospitals use it as an effective and complementary healing tool for patients with cancer, heart disease, and injury rehabilitation. Corporations implement Tai Chi to spawn an atmosphere of relaxation and renewed energy promoting creativity and productivity among employees. The gentle nature of the art provides easy fitness to those with limited mobility. Tai Chi breathing trains the competitive athlete to relax and center into the “zone” of performance. No matter how Tai Chi is used, the primary goal is to weave a thread of calmness into our hectic way of life.
Knowing how to stay calm is a component of healthy living. To say that we live a busy life is an understatement. For most of us life is a “rat race”. Lily Tomlin once said, “The problem with the rat race is, even if you win the race, you’re still a rat”. This points to a crisis-management lifestyle, hurrying up to finish one task so that another task can be tackled at the same furious pace. The added onslaught of information via the information highway and social media intensifies our stress level. Stress is a fight-or-flight frame of mind that can trigger shortness of breath, tightening of muscles, a rapid heart beat and diminished mental clarity. Stress, over time, leads to exhaustion, poor diet and eventually ends in disease.
Not long ago, Tai Chi was considered eastern mysticism. Now, Tai Chi’s benefits are been touted by the most reputable medical establishments and journals around the world. M. D. Anderson Cancer Center advocates it as “healing from the outside” for it’s cancer patients. The New England Journal of Medicine describes its benefits to those suffering from Parkinson’s disease and Fibromyalgia. The National Institute of Health prescribes its use for anxiety and sleep disorders while the Lancet (British Journal of Medicine) advocates Tai Chi for stroke victims. If the benefits for the ill are so well documented, one can only imagine what it can do for those with even average health.
What is even more intriguing about Tai Chi is how easy and inexpensive it is to practice. Lose and comfortable clothes are all that is required. No expensive athletic shoes are necessary and you can practice almost anywhere. Large groups of avid practitioners can be found at local parks. Office lobbies in corporate offices are great for lunchtime exercise. Living rooms or bathrooms are ideal for the five-minute rejuvenating and refocusing regimen. Tai Chi can take a lifetime to learn fully, but the benefits of practice can be felt immediately. You can spend as much as an hour perfecting your form, or if time is limited, ten or fifteen minutes can provide time enough for energizing session.
Beyond the practical benefits, the true beauty of Tai Chi is in the alliance of mind, breath, and body. This partnership results in graceful, balanced and effortless motion. The learned relaxation and depth of awareness achieved from daily practice slowly finds its way into everyday tasks. A task once done under pressure is now done with ease. Suddenly the practitioner knows stillness, and the body feels serene. In the Martial Arts circles, Tai Chi is sometimes referred to as an “internal martial art”. It looks like slow moving Kung Fu, or possibly “meditation in motion”. It is a simple yet sophisticated and relaxed set of movements that encourages the muscles to release tension and the mind to let go of worries and anxiety.
Tai Chi began in the temples of Shao Lin in ancient China around the year 400 a.d. The temple monks designed each movement drawing inspiration from Yin and Yang, a philosophy of constant flow and intermingling forces of opposites. From a balanced center, the opposing forces are witnessed then harmonized. At its core the philosophy of Tai Chi teaches us that we are all connected and dependent on one another and nature itself. The practitioner learns to become centered, focused, coordinated and content.
While Tai Chi is a beginner’s dream, it has benefits for even the most dedicated athletes. Professional football players, dancers and even firefighters are practicing Tai Chi. Mick Jagger, Kobe Bryant and Will Smith are adherents. Even Wall Street traders are being advised to take a brake and breathe with Tai Chi. Isn’t it about time you took at look at Tai Chi and center yourself a little?
My Tai Chi form, Sheng Zhen Gong, a compassionate form of Qigong, dates back 1200 years ago when merging with nature’s Qi (life force), pronounced “chee”, was the way of life for feeling and living in pure health. The movements caress and care for the body encouraging the release of tension and stagnation to be replaced by ease and flow. In every class, there is emphasis on three components: deeply relaxing the body and mind, enjoying the carefree state of motion, and fully appreciating the community together in practice.
Sheng Zhen Gong was inspired in the spirit of unconditional love and in the spirit of returning to oneness. The practice brings health and wellness through the following eight active principles: moment to moment awareness; positive intentions with visualization; synchronization of muscular, skeletal and joints systems; active relaxation; improvements of strength, flexibility and balance; deeper and freer breathing; social and group support; and holistic philosophy of uniting mind, body, and breath.
Master Li Junfeng is the principal teacher and head of the International Sheng Zhen Society. He is the moving force behind bringing Sheng Zhen Gong, the Qigong of Unconditional Love to the world. His life and his way of caring for his students are living testaments to the teachings embodied in this loving form of qigong. Teacher Li is a qigong master who emphasizes both the physical and spiritual aspects of this practice. The practice not only promotes emotional and physical health, it also opens the heart, and elevates the spirit.
Master Li is best known as having been the head coach for the women’s division of the world-renowned Beijing Wushu (Martial Arts) Team of the People’s Republic of China. For over twelve years, under his leadership, his students won nearly 100 gold medals in national and international competitions, elevating the standards of excellence worldwide. During his coaching years, he also achieved international fame as a martial arts film actor and choreographer.
Master Li serves as special advisor to the world Academic Society of Medical Qigong and the Qigong Science Research Association of China. He has been a faculty member of AOMA Graduate School of Integrative Medicine in Austin, Texas since 2002.
If art, philosophy, and holistic health resonate with you, come move with me. I will be teaching the forms “Return to Spring”, “Releasing the Heart”, ”Sheng Zhen Healing Gong” and “Heaven Nature Gong” Join me in a Return to your Total Health.
Quoted from “Tai Chi, Meditation in Motion” – Life is Good Magazine – Bay Area Health and Wellness Publication – January/February 2013, Lisette Templin