Category Archives: Featured

The Best Place to Train T’ai Chi

Every time you see someone practicing T’ai Chi in a book, magazine, or website (even this one!), you’ll likely see someone standing outside on a beach or in a lush garden, striking a perfect pose. Usually they’re practicing on a clear day with the sun rising  behind them. It’s no wonder those people in the photographs always look so happy.

But it’s that picture perfect image of T’ai Chi training at all realistic?

Let’s face it, picture perfect T’ai Chi is kind of like the way we imagine going on a picnic with a loved one. We’d like to think it will be all sun, fun, and even a bit romantic; But, when you get to the park, you realize that the ground is hard and uncomfortable, there’ are bugs everywhere, and if you don’t wither from the heat, there’s sure to be a raincloud heading your way. Meanwhile, the food gets cold, the drinks get warm, and you start to feel lucky to survive the whole ordeal without catching salmonella. Picnics just aren’t as much fun in real life as they may seem in a magazine -All in all, it’s much easier to drive to the nearest Hot Dog stand and grab a bite!

But, how does this relate to the training experience of T’ai Chi? I mean, shouldn’t we be outside, ‘becoming one with nature’ as we find our our ‘Center’? Doesn’t the fresh air and sounds of nature help us relax and to become rooted into the Earth around us?

The answer is “YES,” outside training, close to nature and fresh air is best for the T’ai Chi experience. But there are a few things to consider before you head out to that sunrise beach…

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Embracing Confidence: the T’ai Chi Way!

Using the principles of T’ai Chi can help us in a variety of ways during our daily life. One area of life that we can all use a little help with is self-confidence.

Some of us, unfortunately, seem to have no confidence;We’re wishy-washy and easily run over by pushy salespeople, aggressive authority figures (like  parents, bosses, or teachers), and tend to fade away into the crowd rather than stand up and express ourselves confidently to the rest of the world.

Others, try to arm themselves with a sense of ‘False Confidence.’ They outwardly appear strong, brash, and sure of themselves to everyone outside, but in doing so become rigid in their convictions. They stand so hard on their beliefs that they fail to see the value of ideas different from their own. This puts them in constant conflict with those around them and leaves their ego hopelessly bruised when someone has a better idea or wins an argument.

In both cases, the result is the same. They eventually become frustrated and drained of energy.

If you lack confidence, you’ll become slowly frustrated at your inability to speak up for yourself and feel pushed around until the stress of not being able to stand up for yourself becomes too much and you finally explode in a fit of anger.

If you’ve built an inflated sense of False Confidence, you find yourself always arguing your point and in friction with anyone who doesn’t share your particular point of view. Again, this constant struggle eventually leads to frustration and most likely a bitter breaking point.

Either way, these poor confidence strategies leave the person exhausted and stressed out, which is not  a very resourceful way to live.

Luckily, there is a fundamental T’ai Chi principle that provides true, authentic confidence and saves our mental energy, leaving us relaxed and stress free. It’s not a ‘Get Confident Quick’ scheme, like reciting positive affirmations into a mirror, but a real strategy that works even when life gets tough.. Continue reading Embracing Confidence: the T’ai Chi Way!

Martial T’ai Chi Chuan & Mindfulness

“If you want to conquer the anxiety of life, live in the moment, live in the breath.” – Amit Ray

 

The “Mindfulness Movement” has become a popular trend among many people trying to improve their  lives.

Yoga, meditation, and T’ai Chi are among the most common ways people strive to achieve this mindful state. And while all these practices can help us achieve this elusive frame of mind, there is one important difference between them…  T’ai Chi is a martial art period.

WHAT IS MINDFULNESS?

Everyone wants to do T’ai Chi in order to be “Mindful“;  To be One-With-Nature, to find Inner Peace and Contentment, to be in Harmony with the World around them… well, screw that!

Look, you’re walking down the street, minding your own business, thinking about all the things you’ve got to do… pick up bread at the store, pay the electric bill, plan a birthday surprise for Grandma, and have someone check into that funny noise your car’s been making lately. When suddenly someone jumps out at you from behind a corner. “Give me your money”, he yells as he comes rushing towards you… then you see a punch heading straight towards your face!

Moments ago you were thinking about Grandma’s birthday and now and you’re suddenly fighting for your life.

Your attacker on the other hand, has had time to prepare. He knew when he woke up this morning that he was going to sneak up on someone, beat them up, and take their money. He’s been watching you and pumping himself up for the attack. He has adrenaline and ‘bad intentions’ surging through his veins.

If you knew he was coming, if you knew what was going to happen, you also could have got ready. If you couldn’t somehow escape, you would have at least built up your resolve to fight  and prepared your mind for the combat ahead.

But it’s too late now. There’s no way you can match his energy or intensity as he comes rushing forward. You simply can’t go from ‘Grandma surprise’  to ‘ Vicious Street Fighterthat quickly.   -So what do you do?

Continue reading Martial T’ai Chi Chuan & Mindfulness

What is Moving Meditation? …and how to achieve it!

T’ai Chi is often called a moving meditation… but what does that really mean?

You probably already know that meditation is a process of focusing your thoughts and projecting your mind’s intentions in order to achieve a desired state of consciousness. However, when most people think about meditation they usually imagine someone sitting in a ‘lotus’ position or kneeling for ‘zazen’  meditation. Sitting, or even laying down, is often used so the person can completely relax the body and give their thoughts full attention. Movement, it would seem, distracts the mind, making it harder to achieve the desired state.

What we have to understand is that movement can be an important part of our meditative evolution. Performance specific movements like those found in T’ai Chi, Yoga, or even certain types of prayer can actually help the practitioner in a variety of ways.

First, for those who have difficulty staying still, the movements give the body something to do while the brain focuses on the task at hand. A body that moves slowly and with purpose in a controlled, rhythmic manner can calm the mind, in much the same way a stage hypnotist might use a swinging pocket watch to lead someone into a trance. By giving the mind something to concentrate deeply upon, the subconscious this free to explore and relax.

Secondly,  movement helps us visualize energy, or chi, moving through the different areas of our body. As we raise our arms, it becomes easier to imagine the arm meridians filling with energy and nourishing our body. Standing allows us to visualize Earth Energy rising up from the ground and into our center as we ‘root’ into our stance.

Finally, movement is necessary for us to allow the meditative state to become a conscious part of our everyday life. Meditation in a quiet, candle-lit room, under the smell of incense and soft music is great for giving yourself time to de-stress, heal, and discover spiritual insights. But, true Mastery comes when you can achieve this state on a noisy, traffic filled street. It happens when you can stay calm, centered, and energetically efficient throughout your day, no matter what life happens to throw at you.

But, is this kind of Mental Mastery really achievable?

Well, it will take a lot of personal growth to attain this type of control, but yes it’s totally possible.

Here’s a short overview to help get you started on the path…

Continue reading What is Moving Meditation? …and how to achieve it!

Welcome to Embrace T’ai Chi

What is Embrace T’ai Chi?

Embrace T’ai Chi is a lifestyle blog for the T’ai Chi enthusiast.

There a lot of Lifestyle blogs on the internet that cover everything from golf, to cooking, to sailing, or fishing, crafts, relationships, dance, politics, cars, you name it! But it’s hard to find a website that discusses the way that T’ai Chi affects the lives of the people who practice this remarkable art

T’ai Chi people are special. Although the art shares many similarities to other pursuits like yoga, meditation, karate, or kung fu; The particular way this art is practiced puts it in a class of its very own. Those that train T’ai Chi deserve a place where they can explore and discover, as well as share their own experiences while practicing this unique lifestyle.

Of course there are a lot websites that cover a particular style or lineage of T’ai Chi. Many delve into the specific history and traditions of a school or organization. These sites offer a wealth of information and detail to the student wishing to learn that specific brand of the art.

But what’s missing on the Internet is a place to get the ‘Big Picture’ of T’ai Chi practice. Something that goes beyond a set of forms or traditions and asks the question “What does it mean to live the T’ai Chi Way?” Continue reading Welcome to Embrace T’ai Chi