Stress happens. Fortunately, you can learn to deal with stress more effectively. Tai chi and qigong are excellent tools for this purpose.
What is stress, really? There are many definitions out there, but stress is commonly defined as strain or tension in response to a challenge. The challenge could be a physical threat, an increased workload, or an emotionally disturbing event. Any change in your environment could potentially elicit a stress response, as adapting to change challenges us on many levels.
Tension can remain after the stressful event has passed. It can become physically stuck in the tissues of the body. It can disturb the flow of your chi, or life energy. It can linger in the form of negative emotions, or obsessive thought patterns. If it is not released, tension can accumulate and lead to serious problems.
Since stress is defined as tension, it’s antidote is relaxation. This may seem obvious, but do you know how to effectively relax when you are stressed?
The tai chi and qigong systems we teach contain extremely effective methods of releasing tension. When you learn our tai chi or qigong, you learn specific techniques for inducing deep relaxation.
- You learn movements that are designed to promote relaxation and a natural, smooth, and balanced flow of energy.
- You systematically develop awareness of your whole body, your energy, your mind and your emotions. As you develop this awareness, you become able to feel where there is tension.
- You learn to rest your awareness on places where tension is stuck, and to use your mind’s intent to relax those places.
- You learn to apply this process from the most superficial muscles all the way through to the bones. You can also apply it to your nervous system, which brings a much deeper sense of relaxation than muscular relaxation alone. You can also learn to relax energetic, emotional, and mental tension.
Practicing our arts has a number of benefits that can greatly reduce your susceptibility to stress, as well as improve your quality of life in general.
- You learn active relaxation. For most people, relaxation means flopping down on the couch or in bed, tuning out and doing nothing. While this may allow you to relax to some degree, it does not necessarily promote the circulation of chi or completely release tension.
Our tai chi and qigong teach you to relax while maintaining good postural alignment, moving your body and your chi, and focusing your mind. This allows for a more complete release of tension. Another benefit is that you are training yourself to relax while you are doing things, which lessens the need for cycles of frenetic activity followed by exhaustion and collapse.
- You can release deeply bound tension that has been stuck inside of you for many years. Many of us have deep tension that has accumulated from years of chronic stress, or from intensely stressful events in our past. Most relaxation methods that relieve the milder tensions of the day will not do the trick here. It is possible to release these deeply held tensions through a qigong technique called “dissolving.”
- Furthermore, regular tai chi and qigong practice will strengthen and balance your energy, improve the function of all the systems of your body, and bring them into a more balanced state. In time this will make you more resilient, so that you will be able to handle stress more easily - it’s negative effects will not make as much of a dent in your health and energy.
As I mentioned above, stress often results from our struggle with and resistance to change. Our tai chi and qigong practices originated from Taoism. A key area of inquiry in Taoist philosophy and practice is the question of how to naturally flow with change, which is perhaps the only constant in our universe and our lives.
Taoists have used such practices for thousands of years to learn to minimize their resistance to change, in order to respond to it with less tension. You can use our arts to do the same in your life.