Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Empty Your Heart and Fill Your Belly: Lao Tzu Reveals a Hidden Tai Chi Treasure

Lao Tzu, the sage who is said to have written the classic Chinese text, the Tao Te Ching, hasmany hidden messages in his words. In the third chapter of the Tao Te Ching, he writes

“… the wise one rules by emptying his heart. He fills his belly, weakens his ambition and toughens his bones…”

How are these words related to Tai Chi practice?

The concept of “heart” in Chinese is actually similar to the concept of “mind” in English, because in Chinese, the two are interconnected. To “empty your heart” actually means to “empty and quiet your mind.” Empty your heart and mind of concepts, judgements and desires. Think less to relax more. The key is to remove all thoughts from your mind. When your mind is full of a lot of thoughts, it’s easy to generate anxiety and stress. When you are stressed, you will waste a lot of energy which is not good for your health or your Tai Chi.

To “fill your belly” means your Qi (energy) should not remain near your head and upper body. Qi near the top of your body will raise your shoulder and elbows. Bringing all your Qi down to your Dan Tian (belly area) in order to make it solid will help you relax better and have more energy while doing Tai Chi. Your body is controlled by your Dan Tian which is your physical center of gravity. Your body will feel much more stable when your Qi has sunk down. As a result, your breathing will feel more even.

To “weaken your ambition” and “toughen your bones” both have to do with letting go of defending outer parts of the self in order to strengthen resolve and innermost intention.

How can Lao Tzu’s words help you?
Next time you practice Tai Chi, think about emptying your heart and filling your belly. Notice more even breathing, improved balance and stability, and much less stress as you execute your Tai Chi.

For further reading about Lao Tzu, you can read my article “Lao Tzu’s Secret to Extending your Life".

Copyrights 2011 Huan's Tai Chi