Why I started Taiji (Tai Chi)
Start Doing Taiji Now to Get the Health Benefits
Taiji is not for everyone, it takes discipline and effort to practice daily but the benefits to your health could be extremely beneficial long term…
The NHS website attributes many health benefits for the elderly practicing Taiji. Its great to maintain health, balance and reduce issues for a whole range of ailments in your 50’s, 60’s or 70’s and upwards.
If you are starting younger all the better, you will reap the rewards sooner! In fact, the earlier you start the better. You will build up healthy chi, strong muscles and healthy tendons, fascia and a better state of being. The first time I started Kung Fu and Qi Gong was in the 90’s, it got me fit and energised for sure…
After several near death experiences and various illnesses I returned from living for three years in India (more about this later) to look after my father who was in intensive Care Unit (ICU) with 24/7 care for five months straight. I was doing static meditation for between 1-3 hours every day (and I have done more than 30 years of static meditation on and off and sometimes very intensive practice) but it just "didn't touch the sides"...
I was in a bit of a state. I had the following health issues:
- Weak bladder
- Tiredness/possible chronic fatigue syndrome
- Bile ducts not functioning properly
- Jaw problems (TMJ)
- Gum disease
- Lack of confidence
- Addiction to processed sugar
- Partial addiction to marijuana
- Hot sweats
- Weak ankles
- Bad posture (slouching and rib cage/chest not open)
- Reduced breathing due to past smoking
- Procrastination/lack of concentration
- Difficulty connecting body with mind - not being “in tune” with my body…
- Not following my own truth, or following my passion as much as I would have liked
They say in Chinese medicine that before treating a person we must first make lifestyle changes. This I did first and then after six months or so of practice I found I had no craving for sugar or marijuana.
Detoxing your body from a lifetime of smoking (admittedly the previous ten years I was an on and off smoker), sugar and other addictions, is no mean feat and not a very pleasant experience. Not pleasant in terms of detoxing all the awful toxins I’d accumulated…
I believe smoking, long term, had suppressed my immune system and seriously damaged my teeth, gums and lungs. When I stopped and was detoxing, I got many throat infections, and various sign of detoxification both mentally and physically.
I wasn’t well enough at the time to even go swimming, gently, or go running, slow walks were the only exercise my body could handle at that time; and Taiji…
I went back to my original Kung Fu and Qi Gong Teacher.
The taiji gave be immediate benefits but the benefits from long term practice are really good.
Nearly five later and all the above problems have completely cleared up apart from the TMJ and a sensitive stomach (the former being hereditary, and the latter is better, but not completely cured yet). With the TMJ – for anyone not familiar with this, its teeth grinding, mainly during the night while I am sleeping, something difficult to control. I’ve kept it at bay by regular acu-pressure to specific acu-points around the jaw and neck which has prevented the grinding and resultant soreness and pain. The sensitive stomach is better, less IBS, in fact the extra sensitivity the meditative movement of Taiji has given me helps me to discern what I eat. I’ve given up processed sugar (apart from the odd sweet dessert after a meal), tea and coffee, milk and certainly no more tobacco or Marijuana.
Even doing extensive years of meditation and sessions of physical yoga never stopped me from smoking or my sugar addiction permanently. Nor did it increase my sensitivity to give me better judgement as to what to eat and who to hang out with, let alone chi cultivation. I found the yoga and meditation was more balancing than anything else. Some of the Raja Yoga I did was quite energising, but not nearly as grounding and energising as the Taiji. What I’ve learnt from this is that you can get a lot of “spiritual energy”, light and a cerebral high from some meditations but without the solid grounding its harder to manifest the goodness you wish to share.
I believe Taiji (more commonly known as Tai Chi) is better than yoga or static meditation at cultivating Chi or prana and releasing natural hormones so that you simply don’t need your addictions any more, as your body and brain becomes quite well balanced naturally. Of course, I am generalising here, I am sure there are some good yoga practices that integrate many facets of therapy, but the real depth and significant Chi cultivation is hard to find.
The Taiji I practice also gives me more energy, more confidence and has helped me to make better decisions and discern better what is good for me and to stay away from what is not good for me.
The benefits to my life have been enormous. I’m better at helping my older family members. I am more motivated and feel SO much better. I feel healthier than I ever have been and more in tune.
But as I say, Taiji is not for everyone, it takes practice, but I’m told learning the movements is good for our brains (learning to co-ordinate joints and muscle groups) and learning a martial art is great for confidence. The shapes we make, and co-ordination required improves our concentration. Deep and relaxing breathing and improving the body’s’ structural posture in both standing, walking, sitting and lying is also essential for health and Taiji certainly helps us to achieve that.
What’s more is that if you are a meditation practitioner or someone looking to improve your connection to the “divine” or higher states of awareness and break down modern conditioning to find the truth of your own Dao within – your own path, Taiji can definitely help you on a deeper level by attuning yourself to your deeper self, nature, your environment and your heart with the grounding to lead a more balanced life…