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The Healing Effect of Tai Chi – Part I

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Tai Chi is much more than simply a martial art. It is not something that can be described in words alone. It is left only to be experienced by the artist who is practicing it. People looking in at people practicing Tai Chi cannot fully appreciate what the practitioner is experiencing, although some do get the sense that the practitioner is very tranquil. Tai Chi is based on one of the Taoist principles of Yin and Yang, that the simplest is at the same time also the most profound. It starts with the simplest of movements and leads to extremely profound states. It is said that a baby who never crawls will never be able to walk and if a child has never walked he surely will never run. This is one of the principles that Tai Chi masters have used to teach individuals for centuries. Tai Chi starts with the simplest of movements but it leads to a way of life.

Tai Chi is a way to help the human body attain homeostasis. It is also a means to retain the health, energy and vibrancy of childhood. Tai Chi is used to bring the body, mind and spirit into harmony with one another. On a basic level, how does Tai Chi accomplish this difficult task? It starts with one of the most simple of human body actions and that is motion. Some people ask why would someone practice something that people do every day of their lives without the least bit of trouble. The answer to that question is that although we perform movement everyday it is not what a Tai Chi master would call “perfected” motions. “Perfected” motions are much more profound than simply moving from one point to another but at the same time they are more simple. “Perfected” motion has basis in one of the Tai Chi theories that less is more. One meaning of this is that the least amount of energy needed to perform an action is the most optimal. The goal is to not expend more energy than what is needed and that the entire body must work together in order to obtain that. Conservation of energy may sound like a lazy ideal to strive for, but if you think about it in another way it makes sense. If you were going to design something like a car or a computer would you not want to design it to run as efficiently as possible? You would not want it to use any extra energy than what was needed for its tasks. This is something that Tai Chi practitioners strive for…the most efficient means of action possible.
Efficiency of human motion starts with a person’s posture. A person’s posture must enable him or her to hold themselves up but at the same time not use any extra energy to accomplish it. Once posture has been mastered the practitioner can then begin training simple motions while standing. Once these simple motions are mastered then a practitioner will begin the practice of walking and then walking while performing certain motions. With all of these motions one strives to move in the most efficient way possible. On a more advanced level a Tai Chi practitioner will place emphasis on training ones ability to calm the mind and increasing his or her ability to focus. Tai Chi appears so simple on the outside but it’s actually very complex on the inside.  (To be continued…)

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