Posts Tagged ‘yang-sheng’

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.

Tai Chi Comedy Moments

In my continuing personal study of Tai Chi and meditation, I recently thought of a line from one of my favorite comedy groups of the 1970s, Firesign Theater:

“How can you be in 2 places at once when you’re not anywhere at all?”

This month’s Yang-Sheng (Nurturing Life), a monthly E-magazine for all Qigong, Tai Chi, Yoga, Reiki, mindfulness and meditation practitioners, spiritual cultivators, and health seekers, contains some funny jokes in a special Comedy Moment.

Here are a few “good ones” (I’ve edited out the real groaners):

Two men meet on the street.

One asks the other: “Hi, how are you?”

The other replies: “I’m fine, thanks.”

“And how’s your son? Is he still unemployed?”

“Yes, he is. But he is meditating now.”

“Meditating? What’s that?”

“I don’t know. But it’s better than sitting around and doing nothing!”

Q: What happens when a Buddhist becomes totally absorbed with the computer he is working with?

A: He enters Nerdvana.

BUMPER STICKERS:

No matter where you go, there you are.

What if the Hokey Pokey really is what it’s all about?

Can we ever truly know when our philosophy assignment is due?

What happens if you get scared half to death twice?

If reality wants to get in touch, it knows where I am.

If there were no hypothetical questions what would this say?

100-Year-Olds Share The Secrets of a Long Life

I’m always willing to learn from my elders, so when 100-year-olds tell me their secrets of a long life, I take notice.

Kevin W Chen, Ph.D., the publisher/editor of Yang-Sheng (Nurturing Life), reveals the life-nurturing regimens of centenarians in “Selected Secrets and Maxims of Longevity of Famous Chinese Celebrities” in the September issue of this e-magazine for all Qigong, Tai Chi, Yoga, Reiki, mindfulness and meditation practitioners, spiritual cultivators, and health seekers.

Here’s a selection of what these 100-year-olds have to say, as translated by Chen:

Sun, Simiao lived to be 101 years old. His secrets were: “Keep your four limbs moving industriously; be moderate and controlled in diet; chew carefully and eat slowly; wash and rinse your mouth after meals; and get sufficient sleep.”(四体勤劳;节制食欲;细嚼慢咽;饭后盥漱;睡眠充足. ).

Zhang, Xueliang (General) lived to be 101 years old. His maxim was: “Have a broad and level mind/heart; but build a strong will; frequently do physical exercise to strengthen the body; maintain a regular daily routine and moderate diet; view flowers and read books; cultivate both body and spirit, make a lot of friends, and enjoy life joyfully.”(心胸坦荡;意志坚强;经常运动;锻炼身体;起居有时;饮食节制;观花读书;修身养性;广交朋友;自寻快乐)

Wang, Zhongyi lived to be 105 years old. His maxim was: “Travel and enjoy beautiful scenery; eat until only 70% full at meals; act like a prime minister, show kindness and help others; feel only 70% joy even at fully happy moments; be persistent even during difficult times; always smile and be happy to enjoy daily life!”( 去旅游山清水秀;食油腻三分足矣;宰相肚与人为善;喜事临只乐三分;艰难阻进三尺;笑口常开乐悠哉!)

And here’s my favorite, and the one I plan to continue to emulate:

Yu, You-zit died at the age of 105. His longevity 3-character classic was: “Run in the morning, and go to sleep early; eat breakfast only until you are half-full, have a good lunch, and a small supper; read books and newspapers with enjoyment; smile and don’t worry; exercise with persistence; keep busy into old age to live a long, happy life.”( “夙兴跑;夜寐早;晨半饱;午餐好;晚餐少;读书妙;常看报;常常笑;莫烦恼;动为宝;恒常要;忙到老;寿自高”)

My plan is to follow the sage advice from these wise, old men — maintain a healthy, strong body, cultivate a clear mind, and retain a joyful zest for life.