Many people are feeling stressed and a little lost these days. We’re bombarded with information, but we don’t know who and what to trust. We want to relax and de-stress, but there are so many pressures, distractions, and alarms, that it seems impossible.
Taichi offers a solution: Stop, slow down, and center ourselves by getting back to what is real.
Centering in on What’s Close at Hand
Taichi begins by putting us back in touch with what is most real in our lives – our feeling, our breath, our bodies. It gives us simple, easy-to-learn-and-do ways to rest and restore ourselves through focusing on simple movement that keeps us centered in the here and now. For a moment, or five minutes, or half an hour, we can use Taichi moving meditation to quiet routine thoughts. We gently practice again and again to gradually strengthen our ability to bring our mind back from the scattered and noisy distractions around us. We begin to build the security that we can always pull ourselves back from the complicated outside world to reconnect with these very real parts of ourselves that are always near at hand – our feeling, our breath, our life energy.
Once we learn these simple movements, we do them as a moving meditation that we can carry with us wherever we go. They are a portable toolbox for centering, calming down, and quieting our mind so we can connect with what’s deepest in ourselves. When and as we do this practice, we can often see everything more clearly.
Ancient Body-Mind Therapy
Ancient Taoists used many of the same advanced mind-body techniques we embrace today by incorporating Taichi moving meditation into their daily regimen.
For example, today we understand that deep abdominal breathing actually switches our bodies from reliance on the sympathetic nervous system (the one that puts us on alert for fight or flight under stress) over to the parasympathetic nervous system (the system that keeps us calm and steady). By reactivating the parasympathetic nervous system, we regain our focus, our balance, our ability to think more clearly.
Abdominal breathing is and always was a cornerstone of Taichi and Qigong, and one of the first techniques students learn. Our practice actually begins and ends with placing both palms in front of the center of our lower abdomen — the tan tien —to help our mind focus there, at the center of our being, the place where our life began as an embryo drawing nourishment from our mother in the womb. We use the tan tien in the lower abdomen as a center for our movement, a reference point to center ourselves, our mind, and our breathing, no matter which direction we turn.
The Taichi Reset
Life is so challenging and often confusing. It’s easy to feel lost. Yet when you’re lost, even the best map is only useful if you know exactly where you’re starting from. That’s why Taichi brings us back to the basics of who we are. By bringing our attention back to our lower abdomen and our breath, and the feeling of life energy, Taichi creates a reference point of “You Are Here!”
A few minutes of Taichi moving meditation is like a ‘reset’ that can allow you to start along your journey again with a clearer mind and a calmer spirit.
Relax and breathe, meditate, move slowly through your favorite Taichi or Qigong form, quiet your mind to feel your movement and your breath, and see if you can feel the subtle sensation of your life energy deep inside.
Rest inside of this feeling, inside of your moving meditation- in what’s real in this moment. The more you do, the more the way will clear for you to re-enter your daily life with greater calm, peace, and self-awareness.