Tai Chi Chuan: Education For A Healthy Life

Throughout the ages men and women have always searched for the magic elixir to stave off old age, illness and chronic pain. This is something that affects both young and old alike, but the older we get the less likely we are to bounce back quickly to "normal" health from a chronic pain, injury or malady. There are many alternatives to choose from, but which treatment is going to take you beyond the superficial "repair" and not "give you a fish for dinner, but teach you how to fish" to become self sufficient? The journey is different for each of us and the choices are numerous, which makes the solution that much more unique for each individual and each health issue that arises.

Before the advent of prescription drugs, mankind turned to domestic herbs growing in their indigenous area for medicinal purposes.

Modern Western medicine has developed a vast knowledge of how to repair the body in emergency, life and death situations and has proven itself to be a champion in handling cases when a disease has been allowed to stay in the body so long the damage is nearly irreversible. However, people are also becoming increasingly aware of alternative, holistic methods of healing and maintaining good health as they search for not just a repair for disease, but also a method to prevent illness and to maintain a feeling of good health. Holistic implies that not just one part of the body should be repaired for good health, but rather the entire body (mental, physical, and emotional), otherwise the "body" does not recover completely from an illness or injury.

Because it is not simply a quick fix or repair, the holistic journey to good health usually requires some form of lifestyle change and commitment involving movement or exercise, mental focus and dietary awareness. Many ancient holistic health systems from several cultures around the world have survived the tests of time and universality to emerge as complete healing systems. One such system is the Chinese practice of Tai Chi Chuan.

Beginners often question how long it will take to become healthier utilizing this practice. The answer depends upon how much time is focused on one’s Tai Chi and practice each day. Indeed, the hardest concept for most people to grasp is the commitment required to achieve improved health through this or any holistic practice. In Shaolin, an external Tai Chi/martial art style, we speak of becoming proficient in the art in terms of years, while in Wudang, or internal style, we speak of becoming proficient in the art in terms of decades. For the first time in popular cinema, the movie "Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon" depicts the swordplay and style of Wudang for all to see. Do not let this advanced display discourage you because improved health and beautiful movement can be achieved much sooner with focus and committed work.

Although directing the movement and flow of energy through your body is an advanced concept of study, the bonus is that once you attain a certain level of proficiency you will notice a definite change in the way you move, the way you react to certain external stimuli and the way you feel overall. The evolution of this new feeling and awareness in body and mind will be gradual, but eventually you will notice that the occurrences which used to send you into depression or to the aspirin bottle have lessened, as well as your stiffness and soreness. Please remember that you have spent as many years as you are old working your mind and body into the place you are in today. You cannot expect that a month or two of practicing Tai Chi Chuan or any holistic treatment can erase all of your years of previous hard work!

After a reasonable length of introductory study and practice, it will be time to decide whether or not you wish to take your Tai Chi practice to the next level to achieve the basic characteristics of circular, relaxed and continuous movements. More advanced goals will develop strong intent and focused energy. Tai Chi is a life long study involving understanding of yin and yang, improved balance as well as the study of more internal exercises and forms such as Xingyi, Baqua, and Leung Yi to help you learn more about yourself emotionally as well as physically.

Through study of Tai Chi healing, one also learns how to relax even while working hard. Most people find that this leads to a lessening of personal stresses as well. As the student focuses on performing the forms and movements of Tai Chi Chuan effectively and healthfully, the mind and body begin to work harmoniously together towards that goal, affecting all areas of one’s life. There is a catharsis of introspection and personal growth as the Tai Chi student is no longer content with just trudging through life as an observer, but commits to awareness, personal action and healthy growth. He or she begins to realize their own power within to change their life. Tai Chi teaches that we do not need to control our life, but rather to relax in the expressions of our feelings and thoughts, and to flow with life. Control becomes less important as a goal while self-confidence and self-assurance assume this position of primary importance, quietly and permanently.

Tai Chi Chuan is a journey, not a destination, with a history rich in over 5,000 years of Chinese tradition and experience. Each stage in one’s Tai Chi studies brings increased flexibility and awareness, and paves the way to improved health for today and years to come. On the other hand, you can always just take another pill.

Sifu Robert P. Goodman has been a private student of Master Bow Sim Mark for over 18 years, studying internal and healing arts of Wudang style Tai Chi Chuan. He was awarded Best Demonstration prize for male Tai Chi at the 5th World Wushu Festival 2000 in Shanghai, China. Goodman is the owner of Tai Chi Arts Association located at 1000 Boston Turnpike, Shrewsbury, MA. Phone: 508-842-1236 or visit www.tai-chi-arts.com.

World Tai Chi Day is Saturday, April 28, 2012. Visit the link for more information on activities in Sutton, MA.