When most people first join a Tai Chi or QiGong class, they are not quite sure what they are getting themselves into. Most have a mother, a doctor, a friend, a daughter, or son telling them, “This Tai Chi stuff is the greatest thing since sliced bread and you have gotta try it!” However, these enthusiasts can’t quite explain why you’ve gotta try it. So the following is for you, or whoever’s been trying to explain it to you.
In modern terms, Tai Chi and QiGong are ancient systems of biofeedback and classical conditioning. Traditional Chinese doctors of long ago noted that our natural tendency is to hold onto stress, which bogs down the brain. They therefore created exercises that would train the mind and the body not only to continually dump stress, but also to actually change the way the body handles future stress (not the way your kids change the way you handle stress, but in a good way).
As Tai Chi players move through their slow motion movements, their mind becomes calm, their breathing deepens and slows, and their muscles relax. All this happens while the muscles are toning, making it a very efficient exercise. But, forget about efficiency, Tai Chi should be done as though you were going to do it forever. If you try to “hurry up and relax,” it doesn’t work as well. By proceeding slowly with Tai Chi, and making it a game, you will be much more likely to enjoy it and to stick with it. Chapter 2, “Let’s Get Physical,” explains how even in Tai Chi’s easy going way, there is great power and dramatic physical benefit awaiting you, no matter what style of Tai Chi you enjoy.
Tai Chi can boost your energy levels tremendously. However, it is important also to get the proper amount of sleep. Do not try to use Tai Chi’s energy boost to replace proper sleep and diet. Tai Chi will promote an all-around healthful lifestyle as you become more subtly attuned to your body’s needs. One aspect of Tai Chi’s quiet mindful movement is that it quiets you down enough to sense the mind and body’s needs, whether it’s more rest, water, and so on.
The Least You Need to Know
> Tai Chi reduces stress and slows the aging process.
> Everybody can do Tai Chi.
> Tai Chi restores the power of youthful exuberance.
> Tai Chi is an efficient therapy that can improve all aspects of your life.
> By clearing the mind, Tai Chi reminds you that life is a miracle.