At some point in your life, you probably asked the question: Who Am I?
This is a deep and philosophical question – one that arises when you’re possibly facing your own death or when you’ve lost someone. You’re starting to question whether your life has any meaning, purpose, value.
You’re facing a crisis. You may be asking questions like:
- Who am I?
- What do I really do in this life? or
- What do I have?
Then the question becomes: What does it really mean to be a human being and to be fully alive?
You start a list – you’re a mother, you’re a father, you’re an architect, you’re a chef, you’re a friend, and the list goes on and on. You realize you have many versions of yourself.
The next question becomes: How can you be the best version of yourself?
This is a very popular question in today’s society. In your life, you have sought useful and heartfelt answers to this question.
You’ve sought to understand the realities of your human condition. That is, you live in this temporary body while trying to establish some sort of contact with your spiritual center. You try to find a balance between your external circumstances and your internal being – your true self.
How To Answer: Who Am I?
The answer lies in your ability to have access to your “center” in order for you to answer this question. And what better way to answer this question than to meditate on it.
Meditation is a practice of being in a state of centeredness. It allows you to access your true center. Tai Chi is one form of meditation.
In fact, it’s meditation in motion. And there are three things you should know about Tai Chi meditation.
1. It is a practical means for you to enhance your physical, mental, emotional and psychic parts. When you do Tai Chi, you not only access your five normal senses, but you have access to all the other senses your body affords you. These senses may be hidden from you, and you can enhance these senses to identify those things that are concealed from your life.
2. Tai Chi meditation gives you comfort. You can be comfortable and at home with yourself, with your ever-changing body, your mind, and you can be comfortable in your spirit. In order for you to do that, Tai Chi gives you access to your inner resources, to your total being so you can find the answers you want in your life.
3. Tai Chi enables you to experience and have a personal connection with the Source. The universal consciousness that is always present, never-ending. This consciousness gives rise to all the phenomena that you experience in this world. This source is called the Tao. We will talk about Tao in future posts. For now, when you do Tai Chi, know you are preparing your body for meditation, for finding your way.
The biggest challenge to any kind of meditation is to concentrate on what you are doing for an extended period of time without becoming distracted.
How do you do that?
The very simple answer: by doing breathing exercises. The exercise of breathing is a form of one building block to Tai Chi. Breathing exercises are valuable by reducing your stress and building your stamina. Athletes focus on breathing because they need strength from their breath.
The strength and weakness of your breath are major factors in determining your mind’s clarity and your body’s health and vitality.
Calming the Monkey Mind
Breathing is not just about taking in oxygen, it’s about reducing your stress and controlling the mind chatter that’s happening, what the Chinese call the monkey mind. The monkey mind is when you jump from place to place, when you have trouble getting to the center of an issue. Your monkey mind takes you all over the place.
Exercise – Follow Along with the Video for This Part
Let’s do a breathing exercise that gives you internal strength, that gradually enables you to put your mind at rest, to settle and concentrate for long periods of time, and to awaken the energy of your lower dantien.
- Start by becoming still. Breathe through your nostrils. Feel your breath go in your nostril and feel how it tickles the hairs of your nostrils. In the next breath, feel how your breath touches your throat.
- Then breathe down to your chest and lungs and feel how your breath is touching your lungs. Then in the next breath, go deeper into your body, into your solar plexus, and feel your breath there.
- Then feel in your next breath touch your lower abdomen, your belly. Feel the expansion-contraction there. In your next breath, go down to your lower dantien.
Your lower dantien is fundamentally the energy center for meditation. It is also a center for healing and psychic development. The lower dantien is just right below your belly button, a third of the way between your belly button and your genitals. This is your physical center.
I’m going to give you a technique to train your awareness so you can become conscious of the inside of your physical body and its energies.
In your practice, become aware, observe and notice your breathing. Now you are going to start your body in motion.
- Place your arms in front of you. Hold them at an angle in front of you. Your fingers are softly extended out, and walk around while being conscious of your breathing. Walk around in your room this way.
- Walk around very slowly and deliberately step by step while holding your arms at an angle in front of you. And pretend you are a bear. The bear is a very powerful animal. It’s also an animal of leisure. The bear is not going to do any harm unless it is threatened. The bear walks around as if it is thinking to itself, pondering life…
- Have that spirit and energy of the bear. And continue to observe your breath. Feel it touch your body while you walk around deliberately like the bear.
This exercise helps you to train your awareness and be conscious of the inside of your body and its energies.
Are you still asking, how can you be the best version of yourself?
What if you can begin to experience your spirit while you breathe deeply? What if you can move into the depths of your awareness and essence of your true self? What if, at the very core of your being, you realize you’re not bound by time and space?
What if you become spiritually alive, connected with yourself and connected to others, and connected to your environment in a profound and deep way?