A student asked a great question in class yesterday: “Tai Chi provides so many benefits for health and memory. It’s so important and helpful as we age. Why don’t more people do it?”
The short answer is, it’s hard work. You can’t just attend class, you have to really be in it with your full mind and concentration. Remembering the movements takes effort, and that’s just where it begins. Understanding and applying the principles takes your studies and effort to a whole new level. For good reason, the original meaning of Kung Fu (功夫) is ‘hard work’. And Tai Chi is, as an internal martial art, part of that family.
Tai Chi introduces powerful changes in your body, mind and life. But it’s not a simple quick fix. It takes time and dedication. As for all things in life that are truly important and truly matter, you have to work for it and you have to be willing to invest the time.
Tai Chi requires more than dropping a pill or showing up for class, going through the motions. You need to learn the individual movements, you need to memorize the form, you need to strengthen and stretch your body, you need to control your breathing, you need to train your mind to be in the moment, while not sticking to a single thing. It’s a LOT of stuff that’s going on and needs to be mastered.
However, as many studies have shown, the benefits are plentiful, improving strength, flexibility, balance, memory and general health of internal systems. It’s tremendously awarding when you start to feel how your balance and your control over your body is improving. It’s eye-opening when you experience how applying the principles correctly leads to a whole new level of efficiency and a new perspective of how you experience performing your form. And last not least, Tai Chi has so many layers, that you can practice a life long, discovering new insights every day. It never gets boring.
Yes, it’s hard work, but it’s absolutely worth it! Keep practicing!