Posts Tagged ‘inward listening’

Listening to Your Inner Rhythms Through Tai Chi

Tai Chi answers the call for a practice that honors and connects the whole person, body, mind, and spirit.

Here are excerpts from a great description of what it’s like to make that connection through inward “listening,” written by Dan Kleiman, Program Director at Brookline Tai Chi in Brookline, MA, near Boston, in the January issue of Yang-Sheng.

One of my earliest memories of really getting hooked on Tai Chi took place in a class where we were practicing the form as a big group.

In one very fleeting moment, I felt three interlaced rhythms all at once: my heartbeat, the rhythm of my breath, and the cadence of the form as we all moved through it together.

Each one was distinct, but layered on top of the others.

It was one of those experiences where, as soon as you stop and realize you’re having it, it vanishes, but the effects of that brief moment of the integrated harmony of breath, heartbeat and movement lingered.

Now I had a touchstone to come back to in my practice.

I didn’t really understand how this experience worked.

Later, I was surprised to see how harmonizing movement, breath, and intention created internal space that filled up other areas of my life too.

Let me see if I can explain it.

When you see people practicing the flowing movements of Tai Chi in the park, on some level you understand that the way they are moving on the outside resonates on the inside.

Intuitively, you know that calming your body may lead to a calmer mind, but until I started learning Tai Chi, I couldn’t get into that state in a reliable, reproduceable way.

Essentially, the stillness you find inside the graceful movements of Tai Chi comes from an inward listening — referred to in Tai Chi as “ting jin” or “listening energy”.

By harmonizing the rhythm of your form and the rhythm of your natural internal processes, you reach a still point.

Finding the still point is different every time you practice.

Think of it like going to the ocean.

Are the waves smooth or angry today? Is it windy? What about the deeper currents in the water?

Doing the form is like going to the same spot on the beach every day.

By returning to the same frame of reference over and over again, you notice more subtle shifts and changes in all these intertwined layers.

First, you notice your breathing.

Learning to slow down and smooth out your breathing is incredibly powerful because you see immediate carryover into everyday activities.

You sit at your desk and find yourself holding your breathing and shrinking into your chair.

Breathing becomes a regular cue for restoring your posture.

Later in the process, other internal rhythms become apparent.

Over the years, I’ve come to believe that the act of listening to your inner rhythms and waiting for the still point to reveal itself is what is so powerfully restorative about Tai Chi practice.

Beyond the physical benefits – relaxed muscles, stable joints, and springy ligaments – having an internal reference point as you move through your day creates some extra space between you and the chaos of the world around you.

By having a daily Tai Chi practice where inward listening is a major focus, I’ve found that this quality of mind becomes my default and that it is relaxing, rewarding, and completely refreshing as I move throughout my day.