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Money in the Bank

posted 1 May 2020, 08:31 by WestDevon Tai Chi   [ updated 5 May 2020, 11:17 by Mandy Moor ]

"The natural world is a web of intricate connections, many of which go unnoticed by humans. But it is these connections that maintain nature’s finely balanced equilibrium”
(Peter Wohlleben)

Nature has the perfect balance and Taiji enables us to tap into that source as we strive for internal balanced equilibrium to cope with the external imbalances of human life as we know it. The draconian ways implemented by the coronavirus is affecting all our lives in ways that nobody predicted. The core philosophy of Taoism is the idea of going with the flow, moving calmly through the circumstances in which we find ourselves. We are collectively faced with a threat that inevitably focuses minds on the value of health and the fragility of people in our communities who do not have physical robustness and resilience. Or, for want of a better expression, who do not have the “money in the bank” of a strong immune system. Beyond external behavioural practices that are being advised, such as washing hands, social distancing, self-isolation etc., it is this strong immune system that offers the best defence against the virus.

Taijiquan is an art that is suited for developing just such core aspects of physical health. The time-honoured way of gaining benefits from these practices follow a process of quiet, precise and extended cultivation, and a strengthened immune system is one of the rewards for putting in the effort over time. However, ‘over time’ must not be underestimated. In today’s fast paced society, people want instant results. If starting to train Taiji from this approach it is no small wonder that only a minority of people commit to the rigours, not only physical (which must always be at a level that is appropriate to the age, fitness and health status of the practitioner) but also the degree of mindfulness and attention to detail required. Most people see Taiji as little more than an arm waving exercise but trained to its full potential it is a wonderful system that provides benefits and challenges at all stages of practice.

Of course, there are other factors that play a big part in maintaining a strong immune system such as diet, lifestyle, emotions and environmental conditions. In traditional Chinese medicine, the emotions are referred to as the ‘Seven Emotions’-joy, anger, anxiety, concentration, grief, fear, fright-and the environmental conditions as the ‘Six Evils’-wind, cold, heat, dampness, dryness, fire. All of them, if excessive, can get a foothold in the internal system and cause dis-ease. There is much more in depth reading on this and I highly recommend a book by Daniel Reid-The Complete Book of Chinese Health and Healing.

“Anger causes energy to rise, joy causes energy to slow down, grief causes energy to dissipate, fear causes energy to descend, fright causes energy to scatter, exhaustion causes energy to wither, worry causes energy to stagnate." 
(The Yellow Emperor’s Classic of Internal Medicine-second century BC) 

We are no further forward in knowing when classes are likely to resume. I know many of you are missing them, hopefully we are not too far away from having a Taiji gathering-even a small one! Many instructors have taken to virtual online classes and I can see it is a great way to stay connected and keeping people moving forward in their practice. For me, apart from being useless with technology to follow suit, I feel this is an ideal opportunity to invest in your own practice so Taiji becomes a wholesome part of your life. Access the inner wisdom(capabilities) within yourself - “seek the cause in oneself.” The first stage of the foundations have already been laid for many of you through the classes and workshops with Ben, so there is plenty to work on without the need for words. Try your best to replicate the moves-it is only through endless repetitions, that the form will eventually be internalised. In the words of Buddhist scholar and Aikido master, the late Taitetsu Unno (1929-2014): “Words are seldom spoken and explanations are rare; the burden of learning is on the student.” Learners who have never trained with traditional teachers often rail against the idea of training without being allowed to discuss and talk about every movement they are asked to do. But it is important, as the great philosopher Confucius said, “not to mistake eloquence for substance.”

Look after yourself and those around you! 
Eat healthily, sleep well, keep active and the mind alive. 

Beltane blessings to you all