The energy that heals a wound is the same energy that keeps all our other body organs functioning. When this energy is at an optimum, all our organs function better. We feel good, wounds heal faster, we are more resistant to disease, we recover from any sort of stress faster, we feel and act younger and, in fact, biologically, we are younger. It is thus possible to correlate the various manifestations of this life force and to assume that whatever works to make more of this life force available to us, whatever opens to us a greater influx of life’s stuff, whatever helps us utilize it better helps us all over. We may conclude that whatever nonspecific therapy aids wounds to heal faster might also make us feel younger. Whatever nonspecific therapy helps us overcome aches and pains might, for example, improve our eyesight, and this is precisely the direction that medical research is now taking, and that appears most promising.
Category Archives: Health
In Western medicine, the body’s natural state is death and decay. Health is like a stick balanced precariously on its end, an unstable equilibrium the maintenance of which requires constantly inputting energy and impeding the natural progression of entropy. The role of a healer is to “prop up” the body’s state of health to prevent it from degenerating further. Being healthy means there’s nothing wrong with you, and this is the highest state one can achieve: non-disease and non-injury.
In Eastern medicine, the body’s natural state is optimal health. Like a marble at the bottom of a bowl, the body seeks this stable equilibrium constantly, and the only thing that can keep it from coming to rest there is persistent obstructive influences. The role of a healer is to remove the obstructions that are preventing the body from achieving optimal health. Non-disease and non-injury is the starting point for cultivating health, which is something that can be increased indefinitely.
Yoga and tai chi have several elements in common, but they also provide distinct benefits. This is how they are alike and different:
Both are mind-body arts that work by regulating and integrating body, breath, and mind, and are suitable for people of all ages and physical conditions. Practice is meditative, and benefits include reduced stress, improved balance and posture, elevated awareness, and enhanced healing and immune function.
Yoga emphasizes range of motion, tai chi emphasizes fluidity of motion. Yoga focuses on opening the joints as much as possible, tai chi focuses on freeing the joints as much as possible. Yoga tends to make the joints exposed, tai chi tends to keep the joints protected. Yoga is practiced solo, tai chi can only be practiced fully with a partner. Balance in yoga is mostly static, balance in tai chi is mostly dynamic. Yoga develops more external strength, tai chi develops more sensitivity. Yoga inverts the body, tai chi does not. Yoga evolved from devotional practices, tai chi evolved from healing practices.
How Yoga Can Benefit Your Tai Chi Practice
If you already practice tai chi, yoga will reinforce the benefits, as well as provide an extra degree of external strength, range of motion, and breathing capacity to complement your internal energy development, all of which will make your tai chi more powerful and effective.
How Tai Chi Can Benefit Your Yoga Practice
If you already practice yoga, tai chi will reinforce the benefits. It will also help to develop fluidity of motion and active relaxation in addition to stability of structure. It will help you to maintain your balance and poise in the face of interference, such as while moving and being pushed around by another person. It will teach you to avoid joint posture vulnerability, as well as how to issue and absorb large amounts of force.
There’s an old joke where the patient says, “Doctor, it hurts when I do this…”. Tai chi gives the same response as the doctor, who says “Well, don’t do that.”
Tai chi engages the body’s natural healing mechanisms, which depend on both sensitivity and activity. If a movement makes you feel light-headed, aggravates an injury, or otherwise triggers negative internal feedback, then don’t do it. However, this is not a license to be passive or stagnant; instead engage what you can engage, and move in ways that don’t trip your body’s internal alarm systems. It is not a matter of enduring, but rather discovering the freedom you have within your constraints, which lets you gradually expand your range of motion and strengthen your body’s weak points. Practice moving in such a way that you could continue to do so for an hour, even if you actually only do so for five minutes. If you find a movement that you can’t endure, ease up, slow down, make changes until you are comfortable, but don’t simply give up. It is within a state of comfortable flow that you will access the resources that will accelerate your body’s healing capacity.
How we use our bodies has a lot to do with determining how we feel. Generally, the more sick you act the more sick you will feel.
When you are sick, do you allow your posture to slouch, your feet to shuffle, and your breath to become rapid and shallow? Or do you hold yourself open and aligned and allow your movements to glide, no matter how slowly? This will go a long way towards determining how well you feel and how quickly you recover.
The general rule for tai chi practice is to work at 70% of your maximum capacity. This applies to intensity, exertion, duration, and range of motion. If you exhaust yourself your coordination will suffer, and you will also tax your body’s compensatory mechanisms, which is counterproductive from the perspective of tai chi. The 70% rule allows for a gradual but continuous and sustainable trajectory of development. We have all heard of “no pain no gain”, but by exercising consistently at 70% of your body’s capacity, you will see incremental improvement without the regression that inevitably follows over-exertion.
If you are recovering from injury or illness, however, the 70% rule changes to the 40% rule. Working at this level of intensity is comfortable, and will stimulate your vital processes without taxing your body’s energy reserves, thereby giving you the maximum healing benefit. This rule applies whenever your body or any part of it is in a weakened state, either from acute injury or overall illness.
…is to feel good moving.
The capacity for movement is freedom to move, and freedom is pleasure.
And not only is freedom pleasurable, so is the exploration itself. Pain does not equal gain. What truly builds us up feels good, and has its own innate draw.
Nor is it necessary to move “correctly” to enjoy the freedom of exploration. Correct movement ultimately comes from listening to and following the body’s innate wisdom and guidance, not from overlaying a template onto it. Many will study for years to learn patterns, only to then struggle for years more to unlearn them. Natural movement comes about naturally, and what is imposed is not natural.
If you pay attention, you will realize that your body wants to move. All you have to do is let it.