Tai Chi and Stress have been linked for millenia. There are hundreds of studies, from Eastern and Western Medicine camps, alike, that target specific diseases, stress at work, disorders in children and the aged. The resulting data all say participants feel better. Some show no change in physical ailments but no decline. Most, however, register a scientifically measurable improvement.
In researching the subject, I came across a reference to Wu Tang Mountain Kung Fu in Shiyan City, Hubei Province, China, publicizing the benefits of tai chi to “white collars.” The reference made me smile as I have seen “white collars” become focused, balanced and super-productive as a result of training tai chi at work.
The massive movement of healing workshops and meditation is an indication that we have something to heal and there is a method to make it happen. This emphasis may be a direct result that a large bulk of our population in the United States is over 50, we have more economic challenges and technology has infiltrated our spirituality. Whichever the cause, the popularity of tai chi as a medical solution has increased tremendously.
When we are well, we are productivity machines. We are in the middle of making command decisions, closing business deals, buying and selling real estate or businesses, company does. If we are children, we play hard, deca-multi-task and still try inventing technology before our classmate does. Any of these activities causes stress in the most balanced of us. What do we do with it? Tai chi is one solution.
When we are sick, we are concerned with our health. We give much attention to our physical condition at the cost of productivity. Of course, we must advocate for our wellness, but our minds usually obsess over the outcome. Our sickness may require that we change the amount of activity we do while we are in the process of wondering how far we can heal ourselves. This, in itself, produces cortisol, the stress hormone. Tai chi is known to reduce cortisol through constant movement, relaxation of the joints, involvement of the entire organ structure as we move.
Below is a list of questions that may help us discover that dumping stress through tai chi is worth exploring.
1. If we felt more relaxed, what three ways would this most impact our lives?
2. If our kids could have 50% less stress, would we consider tai chi?
3. If we had more time to complete a goal or a project, would we add another project, relax with the extra time or use the time to better complete the original project?
4. If there were a method of self-removing stress at confrontational times, such as upon taking a test, getting an evaluation, giving a presentation; what flaws (not that we have any) would we remove or diminish from our performance?
5. If we removed our stress, what else would we complain about?
Kidding on the last question. The first four, in all seriousness, could frame some useful thoughts.
Food for thought: I just listened to a video on how to make viral videos. One of the absolutes was not to make people think, but to get them to act. This, of course, has to do with one-pointed mind and is true only if thinking distracts us from our main goal, which it does most of the time. Did you ever get a flurry of thoughts that, you are sure, will help you with your project, but, in actuality, lead you on a series of other actions that have nothing to do with your task at hand? I remember it well, and my training in tai chi reminds me so. This very scattering of our attention is why the statement in this video is true. Since it is so much fun to soak up new knowledge, it is easy to stray.
Tai chi is a champion of keeping the mind on track. As I always assert, consistency is a tremendous teacher. Doing tai chi once might alleviate stress for a moment, but regular tai chi sets us up for internal lasting strength that includes focus, power, maximization of biological functions and the ability to roll into meditation with the spark of a movement.
More information on this topic will be coming in the next article. For now, here are two medical examples about heart failure. I am convinced the success has to do with stress, although one study measures the relaxation of the heart as well as patient feeling of well-being and the other is a general statement.
1. Since maintaining an exercise regimen is important in cardiac failure, Gloria Yeh, M.D., assistant professor of medicine at Harvard Medical, studied 100 heart failure patients. Some did tai chi; others had an education group. She reported in The Archives of Internal Medicine in April, 2011, that the ones who did tai chi had a marked improvement in quality of life.
2. At the School of Medicine at UC-Los Angeles, associate chief of cardiology, Gregg Fonarow, mentioned that tai chi is “easy to implement, pleasant and ha[s] the additional benefit of meditation.” This goes along with an increased interest in mind-body exercise for heart failure.