Slow Down & Wake Up by Anne Smyers, Teacher

“Why should I learn tai chi?” It’s a question I’m often asked.

I answer, “For me, theres nothing like a few minutes of tai chi to help me slow down, relax, center myself, and let go of worries and random thoughts.”

But tai chi is more than that.  Im more focused, calmer, more grounded after even a short practice or a class. Im able to tackle tasks Ive been putting off, once Im in that grounded and centered state, and I stick with them longer, instead of getting distracted by life’s constant demands.

We are all more connected to each other than ever before. And, with this comes new demands on our time. We are extremely accessible. Our phones are a fixture as more than 5 billion people around the world now have smartphones. An average user has 63 interactions with their phone a day.  We are often startled by ring tones, chirps when you have a message, pings when you get a text, lights that signal a call coming in, and often a vibrating alert with every message or newsbreak. I’ve read that the constantly evolving stream of online information encourages our divided attention across multiple media sources, at the expense of sustained concentration. Have you heard of phantom vibration syndrome — that phenomenon where you think your phone is vibrating but it's not — it has been around only since the mobile age.

Practicing tai chi helps me disconnect from the daily demands on my time, slow down, and to recenter. I find that I like myself more after practicing the gentle, fluid movements of tai chi. Not just because I checked something off my list, but because it helps me connect to the deeper “me” that is quiet, accepting, clear, and focused.  And, that extends outward. I also have more patience with the world outside me.

I wrote in 2005 that “Tai chi is an ancient art for todays world. Tai chi imparts the experience of stability, a deep connection both to oneself and to others, and a wonderful lightness born of the awakened spirit.

Affecting us in all realms: body, heart, mind, and spirit, tai chi lets us relax into our true being and enjoy life fully. I like to say that practicing tai chi regularly helps me slow down and wake up; to become stronger and softer at the same time; to relax profoundly while activating our vitality; to focus and clarify the mind while letting go of preoccupations. A full roundtakes only seven to ten minutes to practice and requires only a small flat space.” 

Note:  The nonprofit, Tai Chi Foundation, and School of Tai Chi Chuan present in-person and online training events. Coming up is a four-day intensive for beginners and advanced students. Join us at the Summer Online Intensive, June 25-28. Click here for more details.

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