“Hi, my name is Irving Yee and this is The Art Of Tai Chi – THE place for you to learn Tai Chi in one movement with ease and excitement. Learn it, practice it and live Tai Chi in every aspect of your life. I’m happy that you are here. It’s time to live and age well by cultivating your INNER CHI!”
There are many beneficial reasons to doing Tai Chi. One stands out for me.
It has awakened me to become aware of what’s happening within my body.
Tai Chi brings me into the present moment. And this is important because…
Not too long ago, I felt a little bump on the lower right side of my abdomen while showering. It was a bit strange for me considering I hadn’t sensed anything in the area before. I was curious and had to investigate further.
I needed to focus my attention on this matter.
After the shower, I lied down on my bed with my legs hanging off the side. I began to stretch my abdomen gently and found it a little discomforting. Without overthinking about it, I went to the doctor and found out I had a dull form of appendicitis. It was enough for me to get an appendectomy as the doctor recommended.
Could I have found this out later? Yes. But, I believe I caught it in just the right time.
The pain could have been worse. It could have turned into an acute form of appendicitis ready to burst had I not caught it at the moment I did. That is why I am so grateful for Tai Chi. It helps me to be present NOW.
Why does Tai Chi bring us to the present moment?
Tai Chi can prevent severe medical conditions from happening. Heightened body awareness does guide you through a balanced life. With increased focus, awareness and sensitivity, you are able to respond effectively to any situation by having a clear state of mind.
You can sense where you have tension and tightness.
You can sense where you are strong and where you are weak.
You can understand where your movements come from – out of fear or out of grace.
In addition to being aware of my bodily sensations, you are aware of your thoughts and emotions, and the connection you have between your body and mind.
My mental focus made me think about what the appendicitis meant for me. It led me to a plan for the future and made me prepare for the surgery. It set aside all other plans and external distractions of the world.
Being in the NOW could save your life.
In today’s fast, chaotic world, it is best to slow down and notice what’s happening in the present moment. When you practice Tai Chi, you always sense what’s happening from moment to moment.
Self-awareness gives you focus for what is needed and appropriate for the right time.
In my case, I pay attention to the qualities of my breath, balance and movements.
For self-healing, I am mindful of the chi within me.
For self-defense, I am mindful of my surroundings and others around me.
For life, I am mindful to live Tai Chi in every aspect of my life.
What is mindfulness in Tai Chi?
Let’s define what Tai Chi is to the mind.
First, Tai Chi is a health-promoting philosophy and lifestyle.
It is rooted in the Eastern philosophy of Taoism. Taoists observed that we are a part of a larger universe where we can learn from it to live a better, longer and fulfilling life. When we are in, under or around water, we are in a relaxed state. We feel connected to the universe. Our thoughts change, they lead us to happiness.
Second, Tai Chi is a martial art. It is a fighting style with an emphasis on mindful or internal strength. The movements are soft and yielding like water. As Bruce Lee would say, “Be water my friend!”
Third and most importantly, Tai Chi is a healing art. It is a health-promoting exercise based on the movements of nature and animals.
The Taoists observed living creatures and saw that some live longer than others based on their patterns and behaviors. The tortoise is one such creature. Slow and deliberate are its movements. It is focused on its journey and never wavers. Its body is made for such a lifestyle.
Having a healthy body is not everything. You have to have a healthy mind too. The mind is always distracted, busy at work and multitasking, never at rest. There’s a name for this…
The Taoists and others have called it the “monkey mind”. It is so named after the animal that jumps and climbs all over the place, scattering things along its many paths.
In today’s age of information overload from the internet, our minds can wander aimlessly. We get lost in thought or we lose our thoughts, unable to connect them with all the distraction. Sometimes, we play things over and over again in our heads, not moving on to the next thought or having any meaningful progress.
How do you become more mindful?
Mindfulness is setting aside time for internal development. It combines the physical awareness needed for a strong body with the focused attention of a sharp mind. The connection is then made for a healthy approach to life.
Tai Chi is practiced more these days for self-development in this manner.
To do this, it is good to clear or empty your mind of all thoughts as some other traditions would encourage you to do.
It is also important to fill your mind with active and focused awareness. This type of meditation brings you to notice your bodily sensations in the present moment.
Think about water being always present in your body. It takes the shape of your body. The body constantly absorbs water in order to function properly. Likewise, the brain absorbs water for energy to perform its functions.
The water is absorbed, emptied into the body. It is flowing into the cup that is your mind and body. Water becomes you. It is always present. To be mindful is to fill up with water constantly.
One of the first things I do when I wake up in the mornings is drink a full glass of water. This hydrates my body and opens my mind to the new day.
My attention is drawn in to the present moment. I have a singular purpose in this moment. That purpose is to open and be accepting of the day that is unfolding.
I have a greater inner awareness of what is happening. It brings attention to my breathing patterns. It points to where I am having excessive tension. With more internal sensitivity, I am where I need to be.
Peace of mind is developed.
What if you experience heightened awareness?
In Tai Chi, you are taught to meditate while doing a body centering exercise. This is why people describe it as a “moving meditation.” While moving slow and deliberately like the tortoise, you’re drawn to the moment-to-moment sensations that are happening inside your body. It teaches you to hold your mental focus. Tai Chi is a way for you to manage your distractions and mental chatter by being active in your body.
Let’s go to the present moment by simply noticing what’s happening right now.
If you can stand, stand up. Feel your feet on the ground. Feel your breathing. Notice your posture.
Notice how your posture is based on how you are standing. Are you standing on one leg more than the other? Feel your feet further. Take a minute or two.
If you are sitting, do the same thing. Feel the support through both of your sit bones. Feel your breathing. Notice your posture.
Notice how you’re sitting based on how you are positioned in your chair. Are you sitting on one sit bone more than the other? Feel your sit bones more.
Your body has a preference of one over the other. Experiment throughout the day. Stand on the train and see which foot takes more of your weight. Sit at your desk and notice how your body prefers one sit bone more than the other.
Don’t think too much about it. Don’t judge. Just notice.
Close your eyes. Are you standing still or are you swaying? Are you sitting still? Feel how your breathing is moving your body.
Now, I want you to actively shift your weight from side to side. Our bodies are mostly made of water. Feel the inner nature of your body as liquid is being poured from one leg into the other. Think of the ocean, feel how water moves in a wave.
Feel the blood flowing into your foot. Then feel it again into the other foot.
If you focus on one foot, the chi moves there.
If you sense any one part of your body, the chi moves there.