Usually, when you envision “meditation,” the stereotypical image projects someone sitting absolutely still while sitting cross-legged on the floor. Tai Chi, on the other hand, is also known as “moving meditation.” To save some unneeded embarrassment and confusion, it is pronounced, “tie chee.” Tai Chi involves not only the mind, but also the body as it originated as a martial art. The most common movements in Tai Chi are shifting weight from leg to leg. It also involves lifting your arms, legs, and hands. It is this free and simple movement that eases stiff muscles and joint pain wrought by overuse. This movement also helps improve balance as you become more comfortable in shifting your weight. This can be especially helpful for those with elderly parents or grand-parents as it is known to lower the risk of deadly falls. The other benefits of Tai Chi include: increased calmness and awareness, better functioning digestive system, aided exchange of gases in the lungs, and massaged internal organs. Though Tai Chi can be practiced for just overall wellness, it can also be practiced to improve conditions with sleep, cardiovascular disease, hypertension, and osteoarthritis.
But in order to utilize the full benefits that Tai Chi has to offer, you must also understand the philosophy as well as meditative aspect of it. The philosophy of Tai Chi is that it involves the ancient Chinese concepts of yin and yang. Though we are probably well aware of this symbol in Western culture, often times we do not understand the meaning. Yin is personified as feminine in character, and involves what are commonly known as, “water qualities.” Water qualities involve coolness, darkness, downward movement, and stillness. Yang, on the other hand, is masculine in character. It contains the qualities of fire such as: heat, light, movement, and both upward and downward movement. In Chinese culture, finding the balance between the two opposing forces is what can lead to a healthy lifestyle. The meditative component of Tai Chi comes as slow and easy as the Tai Chi movements themselves. Individuals must keep their mind both calm and alert as they focus on their inner well-being. Deep-breathing techniques also aid in this meditation as one takes deep, reflective breaths to release any kind of distracting tension.
Tai Chi is a great way to not only find mental balance, but also physical balance. After all, a healthy mind means a healthy body.