The single best predictor of chronic illness is a sedentary life style. We are built to move! Every system in our body functions better when we are active yet calm.
Qi Gong and Tai Chi Easy are two types of slow movement. By doing these movements slowly, deliberately, and mindfully, we increase our range of motion and flexibility. In addition, we activate the lymph system whose job is to remove toxins from our body. And by moving slowly we set the conditions for the nervous system to go into parasympathetic dominance thereby eliciting the relaxation response.
In a state of alert relaxation we are able to sensitize ourselves to our bodies and deepen our appreciation of the body as a living process rather than something to shape and control. From this state of alert relaxation we can consciously choose how to live creatively and compassionately in this world.
As the Dali Lama says, we have only one precious life. How can we live this one precious life fully, creatively, mindfully, and with utmost compassion for ourselves and others?
We hold our breath until we are sure our newborn infant has taken his/her first breath. Family and close friends travel from afar to be with us when we take our last breath. First love can take our breath away. And we breathe a sigh of relief when major challenges have been met.
Yes, breath is our constant companion. It is essential to sustain life and does not leave us until we die.
And yet many of us do not breathe in ways that support our health. Shallow breathes do not oxygenate our vital organs sufficiently; shallow breathes elicit the fight and flight response that makes us anxious. Learning to breathe slowly and deeply brings about relaxation, supports the systems of our body, and calms the mind.
Through simple breathing methods you, the student, can learn to improve your health and sense of well being.
Ordinary thinking is frequently referred to in meditation circles as the monkey mind. The mind swings from thought to thought as a monkey swings from tree limb to tree limb. Without training most of us in our culture have little to no control over our thought processes.
We worry when we know that worry does more harm than good. We keep our selves awake at night thinking when we just want to fall asleep. We think negative thoughts and create imaginary catastrophes which only exacerbate our problems when all we really want is to feel safe and secure.
Qi Gong and Tai Chi are practices that help us learn to understand the monkey mind and initiate more mindful ways of moving through life. When we are informed by mindfulness rather than the monkey mind, we think and act with more clarity, originality, and calm.
By learning subtle adjustments to develop a posture that supports your body with as much ease as possible, you can improve your health, reduce or eliminate pain caused by unnecessary stress on certain muscles, and gain energy and vitality. These practices are not about "no pain, no gain". Rather they are about learning how to use the least amount of energy from the best position and posture possible for each task in life you do. As Wang Xiangzha, a Chinese teacher said, "If you need four ounces don't use five". Learning to put your body in positions that relieve stress is an important aspect of these practices.
Simple self massage techniques are demonstrated and practiced for the purpose of activating the lymph system, improving blood flow to organs, and calming tensions. Some of these methods follow the meridian system used in acupuncture so are a type of acupressure. Other methods are light touches that positively affect the lymph system. And yet others involve gentle taps to major organs of the body to stimulate blood flow. All are designed to improve health, increase vitality, and support ease of well being.