Essentials of T’ai Chi and Qigong, Part 3, Harmony and Balance

By Frank Simons

Imagine what it would be like if you were never bothered by stress again. The stressors would still be there, but they would no longer bother you—no longer trigger fear, anger, or anxiety. Worries wouldn’t linger, keeping you awake or making you mull them over for days. This kind of inner peace is possible when you learn to apply the principles of t’ai chi to your daily choices and actions. T’ai chi is more than a martial art; it is also a practical living philosophy.

Video Presentation
Essentials of T’ai Chi and Qigong, Part 3, Harmony and Balance
Thu, Jun 16, 5:30pm
Meditation Center
Callejon Blanco 4
Free, donations accepted

The phrase “t’ai chi” is a prefix that can be attached to such things as “ch’uan”, the open handed martial art, or “cao”, easy t’ai chi. What unites all t’ai chi is a core principle and philosophy that says balance and harmony are the highest good. Balance and harmony are the goal, for when one is in balance, everything in life just works better. The dance of t’ai chi turns the concept of balance into a physical experience by taking you through a progression of physical challenges, each exploring a different aspect of balance, on both a physical, literal level and on a metaphysical, mental/conditional level. These lessons have a direct application in daily life—for health, fitness, attitude, and peace of mind. T’ai chi is a philosophy for the whole person.

One obvious example of exploring balance is the one-legged stance employed in “the golden rooster stands on one leg.” With these movements, you learn a series of physical skills. A neutral spine makes it easier to maintain the one-leg position and finding and releasing areas of physical tension frees up energy. Trying to stand too straight with the joints locked is a common cause of falling. These are useful skills for aging, considering that falling is a primary cause of mortality in people over 65. But that is only half the lesson. T’ai chi philosophy also teaches you to use these skills the same way to keep your balance mentally and psychologically. A calm and balanced attitude is difficult to maintain when one is holding onto old thoughts or emotions but is easier if you “let go.” Relaxing your mind and heart frees up energy you can devote to compassion and affection.

The philosophy of t’ai chi is one of understanding the dynamic interplay of yin and yang in any given situation and, moreover, how to work with it. In our daily lives, are we really paying attention to how much energy we give to yin as well as yang, or vice versa? Even in our thoughts, are we trying to hold onto one state more than another? This creates tension between the natural cycles of nature and our own inner human thoughts and emotions. We have a word for this: stress. Life is messy, but it works better when we are in balance. Everything in life is either a step toward or away from balance. When we live in a balanced way, our health is better, we are more prosperous, our relationships are more meaningful, and our work is more fulfilling. When we drift away from balance, life becomes more challenging and difficult to navigate.

 

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