There are so many physiological [seen] and mental-emotional [unseen] benefits to this practice — I know this from personal experience. As you read this article you may ask yourself, “How do I know this might benefit me?” Answer: Get yourself into a class and experience it for yourself. Remember knowing and experiencing are two different things. [I wrote a whole article on that subject, read it here.]
I have been studying T’ai Chi since the fall of 1997 with Master Sifu Gardner, and I became a Sifu (teacher) in January 2009. In July 2014, I began teaching at Huntsman Cancer Institute [HCI], and earlier this year I became a patient at HCI battling breast cancer. The more I share this modality with others, the more I know it to be a true vessel to bring you back your center — the present — where there’s no stress and you can practice true mindfulness.
Let’s begin there…
In class, I often share one of my favorite quotes from Eckhart Tolle, “The definition of stress is being here and wanting to be there.” Isn’t that true for all of us? Stress only occurs when we are holding on to the past or worrying about the future.
How often have you walked or driven somewhere, only to wonder how you got there because your mind went on autopilot, checking into the past or the future [both of which you have no control over]?
When practicing T’ai Chi we keep coming back to each present moment as it arises. Giving us a chance to let our body lead and guide us — instead of the mind. Allowing us to FEEL not FORCE. How many things in your life are forced? How often to you take the time to FEEL? When we feel — we flow — nothing is forced. When we force, we do not allow ourselves to feel.
The slow circular movements we do in class are done without force, while connecting to our breath, and being aware of our present surroundings. I believe these unseen benefits are the catalyst to bringing about the physiological benefits. They are the foundation that brings change.
One more benefit is the mind-body connection — breathing coordinated with the body movement and eye-hand coordination promotes calmness and clarity. Now couldn’t we all use a little more of that?
Again there are many. Here are just a few:
Flexibility: Can improve upper- and lower-body flexibility as well as muscle strength.
Better balance and fall prevention: This is where being aware of our present surroundings is a huge benefit. Also, reducing your fear of falling can improve self-confidence.
Lowers blood pressure. Remember there is no stress in the present moment.
T’ai Chi, much like yoga, cleanses and invigorates by increasing the flow of fluids through the body, as well as flushing the lymph nodes and lymphatic system. Its practice increases heart rate and blood flow, and also prompts the movements of joints through their full range of motion.
I invite you to take some time for yourself, “fill your own vessel”. Get yourself into a class and experience these benefits yourself.
Classes currently at HCI:
Mondays at Red Butte Garden through September from 9:30am to 10:30am.
Thursdays 6th floor multi-purpose room at HCI from 9:30am to 10:30am.
Red Lotus School of Movement
15-week Autumn Session begins Wednesday, September 6 from 6:15-7:15pm
Some dear friends took us to Santana at Red Butte Garden a couple weeks ago. The beautiful head-dress was made for another dear friend of mine when she was going through treatment, she is allowing me wear it. It was designed by artist, Kerri Wakefield.