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The Mind is the Body – Part 2 – Tai Chi and Mental Health

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14:01 PM

This blog series will be where I discuss sections from my book ‘My Eclectic Human Body’ to demonstrate how mental health is more than just the mind. 

When working in my first psychology job, I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to complete Teacher training in Dr. Paul Lam’s Tai Chi for Health program. The program discussed the benefits of Tai Chi, how to be an Effective Teacher, Safety and Risk assessment, their Stepwise Progressive Teaching Method, Tai Chi Principles and many other tools regarding teaching the Tai Chi program.

 The most common benefits of using Tai Chi, experienced by practitioners and teachers include – improving health, more effectively managing arthritis, diabetes and other chronic conditions, developing patience, tranquillity and inner balance, being part of something greater than oneself.

Tai Chi is considered an Internal art and has key principles including Outward Movement, Body Structure and Internal and key concepts including Jing, Song, Chen and Huo. Outward Movement refers to the improvement of balance and coordination and internal strength through controlled movements. This controlled movement appears from the outside to have a slow, smooth and continuous flow like water flowing in a river against a gentle resistance.

An awareness of your body internally and externally can develop the body’s overall awareness including our emotions. The term ‘Internal’ in Tai Chi refers to the internal components of the human body, with the mind being a large focus. By integrating the mind into Tai Chi practice, the participant can improve their balance and brain body awareness. This internal awareness also involves controlling the muscle tension to allow for gentle, somewhat relaxed movements and joints, and allows the mind to be focused on the movements being practiced instead of the many distractions modern life has.

Jing can be roughly translated as mental quietness or serenity and includes the person focusing their mind on posture, body awareness, breathing, loosening of joints, and relaxing their mind has less ability to focus on the modern life distractions.

Song can be roughly translated as relaxation and a sense of loosening and stretching out and for people who can visualise, can be a useful tool as the person can mindfully focus on loosening their joints by gently expanding them from within the body. This can then lead to a more relaxed state as the body’s tension is released.

Chen roughly translates as sinking and refers to the sinking of a person’s life energy (known as Qi in Tai Chi) to the ‘Dan Tian’. The Dan Tian in Tai Chi practice is the central point of everything and is an area that is three finger widths below the belly button. Exhaling can facilitate the sinking of Qi to the Dan Tian which helps the body and mind relax and achieve Jing and Song states.

Huo refers to agility or the ability to move nimbly. Agility is developed through regular practice with proper body posture, weight transference, control of movements, loosened joints and strong internal strength.

Almost any exercise depending on the person’s ability and goals can be beneficial for mental health and Tai Chi is but one example.

Stay tuned for my next blog.

To work on your own mental health with us please contact 0479 149 277.