Maybe you or someone you know suffers from years of chronic pain and survived by doing the best you could to ignore your body.
You were very active in sports and enjoyed such things as running, cycling, and skiing. Over the years, you became increasingly stiff, and simple activities such as sitting in a chair became virtually impossible.
You constantly struggle against gravity just to hold yourself upright. Perhaps you suffered an injury in a car accident, which compounded your problems.
You’re complaining about chronic neck and lower back pain. This pain severely restricts your mobility. You sought relief from orthopedic surgeons, chiropractors, and physical therapists. You may have explored relaxation and visualization techniques to relieve your discomfort on your own.
Does any of this sound familiar?
Without any success, what else can you do about your situation?
Your situation can present an opportunity for inquiry rather than trying to solve the problem of pain.
You enter an inquiry that involves a change in how you experience your body. You don’t want to keep thinking about the pain, and instead turn to what is most meaningful in your life.
What are you trying to fix right now? What are your problems? What are you fixing in your body? Well, instead of crowding yourself into that space of having to fix something, why not experience the pain differently, in a broader way?
Start paying attention and notice as straining occurs.
Learn to relax and let go as opposed to compensating for it.
When you compensate for something, you are putting more effort into it and pushing yourself too hard. Instead, try to have a broader perspective on how you’re experiencing this problem. In this way, you open into an aliveness by receiving the enormous space that is surrounding you.
Surrender into your root and let go. You then learn to extend your presence into the inner space. It’s a subtle shift of awareness that opens the space in which you can extend yourself into. Once you learn to invent and discover space within, you can keep expanding infinitely outward.
One way to feel whole again is by practicing Tai Chi. Tai Chi is a practice that begins with inquiry. Ask yourself the following questions:
How are you sensing the way you sit in a chair?
Are you sitting down like a sack of potatoes?
Are you collapsing on yourself?
Are you tensing the muscles of the lower back and neck?
Are you tensing your shoulders to hold yourself up?
When you stand up, are you lifting yourself up or are you pouring your weight into the ground?
In Tai Chi, you pour your weight into the ground, like grains of rice pouring through a silo and you are allowing gravity to support you.
By practicing Tai Chi, you learn to stand by anchoring your sacrum. Stand right now and let go of your tailbone and experience how that feels. Does it feel expansive? Does it feel like you’re extending yourself out into space? You find that you can stand without tensing your skeletal muscles. Sense your upper body is floating upright and it gives you pleasure.
As you move through space, you may feel different. You feel more grounded and lighter. The more you practice Tai Chi, the more you sense the ground rising through you. You may discover greater vitality and ease in your structure.
Let’s do some Tai Chi right now and feel that ease:
1. Sink into your right foot.
2. Step with the left.
3. Shift the weight.
4. Turn in, and exhale. Let go.
1. Energize, expand out. Bring your arms up in front of you.
2. Exhale, relax, and sink back down.
3. Energize, open out.
4. Relax back down, sink in.
Let’s move into our next set of movements.
1. Energize, turn open, and make space.
2. Shift the weight.
3. Step out, exhale all the way, energize, expand out.
4. One hand faces the other.
5. Turn, step and exhale.
1. Turn your body to the right.
2. Shift the weight back.
3. Exhale, energize, and roll back.
4. Shift the weight, and exhale.
5. Energize, press.
6. Shift your body back and open, and exhale all the way into your right foot.
7. Energize, push.
8. Shift your back, wind up. Then unwind, open, and expand out.
Lastly, step back, exhale, let go. Energize and make your space. Then relax back down and let everything go.
What if you can begin your inquiry into how you formed yourself that brought you so much pain?
What if you can participate creatively in how you form yourself and your world in the here and now?
As you begin your inquiry, where should your focus on awareness be next?
Follow me on Instagram as we continue our journey into Tai Chi. I post videos and tips there so you can follow along with me.