Wednesday, May 2, 2012

City Life and Tai Chi: Friends and Foes for Life

Let us rise up and be thankful, for if we didn't learn a lot today, at least we learned a little, and if we didn't learn a little, at least we didn't get sick, and if we got sick, at least we didn't die; so, let us all be thankful. - Buddha

Attitude is a little thing that makes a big difference. - Winston Churchill

In contemporary life, we like to have everything fast. Getting quick information right from your smartphone, eating fast food, and going from one event to another while thinking about the next event, is a way of life for many busy city people. Tai Chi requires the opposite mindset. Quit thinking and quiet your mind. Slow down and relax. Separate yourself from your busy life for a while.

In traditional Chinese philosophy, life balancing requires mixing yin and yang. If you do something too much, you will get hurt. Instead, you should incorporate some of its opposite to balance. For example, if you eat too much meat, it will hurt your health. You need to eat some vegetables to balance. If your life is always on the go and tense and with stress then you need to spend some time stopping, slowing down, and relaxing. That’s the way to balance your body and soul.

A good attitude is a good friend for beginner students. For many of our beginner students, seeing progress is very important for them. Many of them are in a hurry and need to see the progress quickly. However, a focus on quick results goes against the purpose of Tai Chi. In fact, often the more hurried you are, the slower your progress. If you haven’t taken the time to understand and get familiar with the current Tai Chi movement and are in a hurry to move to the next one, you may end up learning a bunch of movements, but none of them are right or good enough. As I often tell my beginner class, you can’t eat a lot of food and become fat in one night. Tai Chi is just like gaining or losing weight; it takes slow progress at beginning.

As we have mentioned, learning Tai Chi is also a way to practice patience. We do each movement slowly to feel the relaxation. Traditionally, it takes weeks to just learn one movement in detail. But on the contrary, every time you learn one movement completely and correctly, it will help you learn the next movement more quickly, because they share similar fundamental theories. Having a good attitude, believing in yourself, and learning and taking things slowly are the keys to improving your Tai Chi.

To help you learn efficiently, I suggest the 3Rs: Review, Repeat, and Review Again. To review, read our online notes before the upcoming class to know what will we be teaching in the class. Once you get home, repeat and review the movements you learned in class. To review again, I also suggest you to read my blog post on “How to Better Remember your Tai Chi Moves.

Distraction is a common foe of Tai Chi beginners. Research shows that doing more than one thing at a time has a negative effect on memory and learning and is a major cause of premature aging. Doing Tai Chi requires concentration which will help you relax while doing one thing at a time. Getting distracted by other matters while doing Tai Chi defeats the purpose of Tai Chi. That’s why I tell my students, when you are doing Tai Chi, you shouldn’t have anything else in mind but Tai Chi. You shouldn’t even think about the next or past Tai Chi movement while you are doing the current movement. Happiness comes from enjoying the current moment. If you want to feel relaxed and happy while enjoying Tai Chi, concentrate on the current movement in the current moment.

Copyright Huan's Tai Chi 2012


  1. This is a really great post! It's amazing how if you "go slow" things just work better. I noticed life is much easier, smoother, and more enjoyable when not stressing out, rushing about, and sweating all the little details.