Great at last a fine day. I took my laptop into the garden to do some work on our monthly Tai Chi newsletter whilst getting some welcome sun on my face.
Then it hit me my laptop has just done Tai Chi!
You see, I needed a file from my other computer in my upstairs office, and here I was now downloading a file onto my laptop from my computer upstairs in the house. No Wires, no obvious link between the two computers, and Bob’s your uncle, there was the file. No trekking upstairs and sifting though the desktop computer’s files then transferring it to a pen stick (a small storage device making it easy to transfer from one computer to another).
The very thing that separates Tai Chi from most other forms of exercise is the way it works on and builds up the energy system of the body. Students new to Tai Chi are usually concerned with improving their physical health and enjoying the relaxing feeling Tai Chi practise brings. Through the regular practise of Tai chi and its sister arts of Kai Men and Dao Yin the benefits to your health are many and long lasting.
But if they are still around in a few years time.
Students usually become fascinated by the energy side of Tai Chi. Now before you think I am one of those aerie fairy types who are off their rocker on cloud nine. Let me point out that science now states that everything is energy. It is just that those solid objects vibrate at a different level to us and other things. Everything all around us inside and out is energy vibrating at different frequencies. Just because we can not see that does not mean it is not real.
If you care to read a book about the fascinating things that scientists are working on at the moment. The ‘Dance of the ‘WU LI MASTERS’ by Gary Zukav An overview of the new physics is one amazing book. There others to choose from ‘The Dao of Physics’ an Exploration of the Parallels between Modern Physics and Eastern Mysticism is a book by physicist Fritjof Capra is another I found informative and thought provoking.
Al Chung-Liang Huang a Tai Chi Master
Among contributors to the ‘Dance of the WU LI Masters’ is Al Chung-Liang Huang a Tai Chi Master. For me this books technical explanations were not always easy reading, but in most areas things are explained in language that is easily understandable and totally fascinating. I drove my poor Tai Chi students mad for months afterwards as I linked things from the book to my lessons in Tai Chi, the comparisons were amazing. After 42 years studying and teaching Tai Chi, to me the principles inherent in Tai Chi appear in everything I learn about everything else. And how could it be not so. Tai Chi is based on the natural laws of the universe and everything in the universe must adhere to these principles in Tai Chi also.
When we think – We activate our energy – Energy moves the body
So when we practise Tai Chi, we must first calm the mind, bring it under control and direct it to our purpose. If you haven’t got a purpose for learning Tai Chi, it is doubtful you will continue for long. The mind untrained is like an unruly child. Undisciplined it will runs into trouble sooner rather than later. Controlling the mind is one of Tai Chi’s necessary traits and also attributes. So if you haven’t got a purpose for your practise, bringing your mind more under your control may well be a good one for you.
Although your initial purpose does not have to be so lofty an ideal to start with, just wanting to relax more or get out the house and meet other people is enough to keep you going to you Tai Chi class to start with.
Getting back to the computer: when you want to use it to accomplish a task you open the required program and start the work. But first you had a thought, a purpose, something you wanted to achieve. Once you have that you can find the tools i.e. program in this case to start the work. A computer will not work unless it has energy (electricity). Then driven by your purpose, you can produce an email, edit a photo, create a drawing, write an article and send that out into the world to whoever you choose to. Or print out a hard copy and send it via snail mail.
Our brain is rather like a computer, it has a memory section (hard drive). The ability to analyse data with its processor assisted by its loaded programs, not unlike our power of reason that allows us to analyse information which we pass through our past experiences to come to a conclusion of the way forward.
Our brain then gives out instructions and our energy mobilises to give fuel to our muscles and thought processes so we can carry out the task at hand. Without energy none of this is possible.
However, most of us never give this subject any thought, like our breathing we take it for granted, we assume it is an automatic function of our existence, and it is. But if for some reason we struggle to breathe or suffer a lack of energy. We soon realise that a lack of either is very restrictive indeed.
So it would seem to me to be a good idea to learn a little about our energy systems. Not because we are in short supply now but to ensure that if in the future should we become deficient we will always have a way of ensuring we can build up adequate reserves again.
My teacher Master Chee Soo use to say when you are born you have a bucket full of chi when you use it up you die, so don’t waste it.
When we are young we think we are indestructible and often flitter away our energy in unhealthy practises and behaviour. As we get older and develop we learn to conserve our energy and to the extent we do this we keep our health into old age.
Tai Chi teaches us to relax and conserve our energy and also how to replenish it, prolonging its life and keeping the quality of our chi good. Like the computer needs electricity to function, we need our chi. The quality and quantity should be of great concern to us. Healthy exercise such as Tai Chi along with breathing exercises and good quality healthy food can make a vast difference to the quality of life we experience.
There are many forms of exercise available today but not many that have been around for as long as Tai Chi. Tai Chi survives because is it as perennial as the earth under our feet. Based on nature itself, a tool for self-development and in my opinion Tai Chi is the best health exercise system there is, bar none.
I wish you all I wish for myself
© Copyright 2012 Howard Gibbon – all rights reserved
Howard has been practising and teaching Tai Chi for 44 years. A student of the late Grand master Chee Soo for 21 years Howard teaches Tai Chi, Dao Yin (respiration therapy, Kai Men (Chi Gung) Feng Shou (Lee Style art of Kung Fu), An Mo (massage techniques)