The literal translation of Tai Chi is “Great Universal” or “Supreme Ultimate”, which like the activity itself, and the Chinese origins, presents a mysterious and slightly intriguing perspective. Many people know Tai Chi as a flowing, gentle movement but it is also balanced by strength and power. Watching Tai Chi it is easy to see the beauty and the relaxing qualities, yet it is also obvious that there is something more.
Tai Chi is an holistic exercise, exercising not only your body but your mind and spirit as well. It can be used for relaxation, to find peace, to help cope with a stressful lifestyle, to improve health and to increase vitality. It is suitable for all ages and levels of physical fitness.
Tai Chi works as a physical exercise, the flowing movement gently exercising the legs, waist, arms, heart and lungs. But it also works at a deeper physical level, working with the Chi, the body’s energy. At this level it also works with the body’s nervous system and the endocrine system. It works to open and balance the flow of Chi within the body, working with the nervous system and the various glands, to achieve balance and flow which enhances the well being of the Tai Chi practitioner.
Tai Chi is a form of moving meditation, gradually training the mind to focus and concentrate. It works to increase self awareness, not only of the physical body, but the breath and internal energy system. As you increase your awareness of your senses you become more aware of the positive aspects of your body and start to feel more vital and alive.
One vital aspect of health, which is often overlooked, is awareness of your spiritual nature. This is more important for your well being than the physical and mental aspects of health. This spiritual aspect is your true nature, behind the persona we present to the world. As your Tai Chi develops so does your awareness of your true nature, giving you greater openness and self confidence. You do not train your spiritual nature, because it is always the same, but you can open up to your awareness of it.
Tai Chi brings together all these aspects into a total experience, so much more than appears on the surface. The experience of Tai Chi, is one of relaxation and peacefulness. It brings a quiet mind, a vibrant physical body and awareness of your vital life force, your chi. Tai Chi is about the experience of connection to the Great Universal. We know this feeling in the beauty and magnitude of nature, in the experience of peace and joy and in the presence of innocence. Tai Chi allows us to gradually learn to unfold that experience in our lives.
When we learn Tai Chi, we develop the experience, deepening it every time we practice. As the experience deepens, we learn the Tai Chi movement more deeply. Everything goes hand in hand. Everyone comes at their own time, at their own state of readiness. Physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually, we are where we are. There is no place to start and no rules about how to progress. Only the experience is important. Every time we seek the experience, we recognise it for what it is for us at that time. Every time we practice we progress some more. Learning Tai Chi is about the experience and what it is for you, where you are now.