- Mind over Matter
Tai Chi's artful beauty can make us forget that it
is actually one of the most highly evolved health
technologies on Earth. The Chinese realized that
our mind or consciousness is the root of who we are.
Our health and our lives are merely reflections of
our state of mind. Therefore, Tai Chi's mindful
quality incorporates the mind and body into
a powerful healing force.
Interestingly, Western science now sees that
Traditional Chinese Medicine's ancient insights
were right on the money. A new science called
psychoneuroimmunology has found that our
mind constantly communicates to
every cell of our body.
Psychoneuroimmunology is a modern science studying how the mind's attitudes and beliefs affect our physical health.
Psycho means "mind," neuro means "nervous system," and immunology means "system
of health defenses."
Emotional chemicals, known as neuropeptides, flow throughout our bodies, communicating every feeling to the entire body. So when hitting every red light on the street aggravates us or we become anxious in every line we stand in, we walk around in a state of perpetual panic (or as Bruce Springsteen sang, "Yer life is one long emergency"). This negatively affects our heart, brain, and entire circulatory system. In fact, those effects in turn affect other organs, which can cause a breakdown of the entire system over time, causing, for example, kidney failure, heart enlargement, and hardening of the arteries.
But don't fret, Tai Chi helps us do just the opposite. We can decide to let issues slide right off us, literally breathing fears out with every sigh and yawn. As we sit in QiGong meditation or move in Tai Chi's soothing postures, we let a nourishing healing flow of Qi, or life energy, fill every cell of our body.
Don't try too hard to memorize any of these details on Traditional Chinese or Western medicine. Rather, let the concepts wash over your relaxed mind. The important stuff will stick, and you can always go back to look up details later.
Know Your Chinese
Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) differs from the Western approach in that its focus is holistic. Holistic means it views the body as an integrated whole. A TCM doctor does not treat only symptoms, but rather tries to discover the root of health problems.
For example, if we have allergy problems, Western pharmaceuticals might send chemical missiles in to dry out the sinuses. This does stop the runny nose, but some medications may result in irritating the surrounding tissue by drying it out or other undesirable side effects. Acupuncture, on the other hand, or Tai Chi, in the long run, will enable the body's natural balancing to occur, reducing the incidence of sinus problems in a way that nurtures the tissue. This is done by re-establishing the blocked flow of Gi that is at the roof of the problem.
To fully appreciate Tai Chi's medical benefits, it may be helpful to understand how Traditional Chinese Medicine views the body. Traditional Chinese Medicine has known for centuries what Western science is only now discovering that our mind and body are two inseparable things. In Traditional Chinese Medicine, there is a joke that "the only place the mind, body, emotions, and spirit are separate is in textbooks." In real life and Tai Chi, it just isn't so. Tai Chi's slow mindful movements are the epitome of this union of mind and body. As mentioned above Western medicine is becoming increasingly conscious of it as well. Comedian, George Carlin, joked, "After hundreds of years of medical research we have finally discovered the head is connected to the body."
Click above Logo image for video on the
energetic nature of the body and mind . . .
Above Russian Tai Chi Teacher, Vladimir Pankov, repels the force of many students effortlessly
Know Your Chinese
The energy meridians are known as jing luo. Jing literally means "to move through," and luo means "a net." So energy meridians are a network of channels.
A T'ai Chi Punch Line
There are also acupuncture maps for animals. In fact, some racing horses have their own personal acupuncturists. Many veterinarians are beginning to use acupuncture as part of their practice.
So when your body's muscles are rigid, your thinking will likely be more rigid, too. Likewise, if your thinking is harsh and rigid, this will in time be reflected in stiffness in your muscular frame. This stiffness impedes the flow of Qi, which diminishes our health. Therefore, your mind and your thoughts have as much, or maybe more, to do with your health than the food you eat or the exercise you get.