what is tai chi chuan?

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Answered by: Jeff, An Expert in the About Qigong and Chinese Medicine Category
Tai Chi is the interplay of opposites, unified and flowing to produce form. Night and day. Light and dark. Left and right. Up and down. Within and without. When we realize that these opposites can only exist with each other, we begin to glimpse the depth and effectiveness of tai chi chuan, which is the practice to which most are familiar with when they hear the term, tai chi. Through subtle, gentle movements, allowing our conscious mind to become aware of our breath and the energy flowing through our bodies, we learn to reconnect the brain, the heart and the body, the body, the mind and the spirit, in a fabulous flowing tai chi of unity and grace.

If one looks at the tai chi symbol, which most people refer to as the yin/yang symbol, one immediately sees the interplay of the light and the dark, and the small bit of darkness within the light and visa versa. But does one see the three? Yes, we see the opposites immediately, but do we see the three? The symbol itself is the three, completing the trinity of cosmic energy contained in this reality. The light, the dark, and the joining of the two in a third form that contains them both: tai chi. The mother, the father, and that which contains the essence of both in it's form, the child. And we are the child. We are made of Mother Earth and Father Sky, of the dark and the light, and in our being lives and breathes both, creating us, standing in form as the child. Tai chi recognizes this, and the necessity of this awareness in our daily lifes.

Long ago, Zhang Sanfeng, was gifted with the knowlege of a form of movement, breathing and exercise, which when practiced daily, would open the flow of energy throughout the body and would allow one's consciousness to reconnect to the earth, the sky and the heart, and it is this practice and reconnection that has lasted for the past 700 years, giving people a simple easy way to remember that they are more than the thoughts running around in their heads. Through simple breathing and grounding, feeling one's feet on the ground, feeling the life moving through one's body, allowing one's weight to shift gently from one hip into another, the entire body, mind and spirit is revitalized, and if practiced with sincerity, one's awareness too is opened and elevated. Through a daily practice of tai chi chuan, one begins to realize that they are one with the trees around them, one with the grasses, one with the strangers on the street, one with the street itself and every tiny little stone that has been gathered into its form. Breathing becomes easier. Moving becomes easier. Feeling becomes easier and more balanced, for tai chi not only works to balance and allow the natural flow of life to heal the physical body, it also helps to balance and cleanse the emotional, mental and spiritual bodies as well. It is the simplest of exercises and one of the most effective ways of maintaining and regaining health and balance that is known to humanity at this time.

Tai chi chuan is practiced by people of all ages throughout our world, and teachers and practitioners are prevalent. One only has to search in order to find, and once found, listen to one's heart to know the truth. There are many teachers with many different styles, and if you are reading this, you have already begun your search. Now, along your path, just listen to your heart and you will know the way. If one teacher doesn't feel right to you, find another one. Many of our lessons are learned through such a process, so be patient with yourself and your path, and let love guide you. Loving ourselves may be one of the greatest lessons we learn, and thorugh tai chi chuan, our hearts are opened, are eyes our opened, our feet find the earth again, and our way becomes clearer and clearer.

Much love to you and to your search. Namaste'.

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