Improve Your Sensitivity and Awareness

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Tai Chi and martial arts help us to improve our sensitivity and awareness. They help us to achieve a deeper level of mindfulness throughout our lives.

Sensitivity

While we initially mostly struggle to follow our teacher’s direction, we will notice over time that Tai Chi creates its own sensations as we go through our practice. We learn to listen to our body and we notice the small changes and feedbacks that we are getting. Tai Chi becomes more than just ‘going through the motions’.

That change creates a deeper awareness for our movements, our body and our mental and emotional state. We become more observant, aware and reflective. Tai Chi constantly teaches us to observe ourselves very closely in order to monitor whether we are doing the moves properly.

Observing is the first step to changing. Tai Chi prepares us to build up an effective feedback loop to better control our own reactions to the things that life throws at us.

We are more aware, live more in the moment and with that we learn to enjoy life more.

Awareness

The other kind of awareness that we gradually build up as we study Tai Chi is situational awareness.

All too often we go through our days without noticing what is happening around us. Remember those funny videos where people bump into objects because they are fully immersed in their smart phones?

Tai Chi, as any worthy martial art, teaches us to have both attention to the detail when needed, as well as situational awareness throughout. In japanese martial arts that situational awareness is called Zanshin and it is a core building block for all traditional japanese martial arts. The best technique doesn’t do you any good if you don’t see the bad guy coming.

We train our gaze in Tai Chi. Most of the time we have an unfocused peripheral view. When appropriate, we focus in on an important detail and then we let go again. If you do that consciously, it becomes a natural habit throughout your days.

However, you don’t only need this to become a legendary warrior. Being aware of your surroundings let’s you more deeply appreciate the beautiful world we’re living in. It will make you more aware and thus safer, but it will also make you more tuned in to your life and thus happier. It might even take your relationships to a whole new level if you pay attention to the other person!

Live in the now!

 

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Go Outside

Whenever you can, try to go outside for your Tai Chi practice.

Connect to nature

Tai Chi is a great way to connect with your inner core as well as with the universe around you. Practicing outside is a shortcut to the latter one, breaking down the walls that normally separate us from nature.

Connect with nature and heal. Inhale the fresh air, focus on the smell of flowers in spring and the sweet flavors of fruit in fall (we always smell blackberries around here). Take in the salty sea air or the fresh mountain breeze. Experience dry deserts or cooling forests. Listen to bird songs and nature sounds.

Be in the moment and be connected to nature!

Make it real

The other benefit of going outside for your practice is that it adds a whole new layer of sensations and complexity to your practice.

While our inside training rooms are perfectly levelled, with smooth floors and air condition, nature is much less predictable. The ground is rough with sudden holes, the sun might shine in your eyes and blind you, the wind might tickle you and the bugs might annoy you.

That means lots of stimuli and lots of distractions. Learn to deal and eventually to work with it. Life is messy, learn to manage your arts within that messiness. If your art only works in controlled environments, it actually doesn’t work at all.

Work with and embrace distractions. Learn to do perfect your Tai Chi in an imperfect setting.

Learn To Be In The Moment

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Tai Chi is often called ‘meditation in motion’. Like meditation it keeps our mind focused in the here and now. Achieving that focus in Tai Chi actually comes easier to me than in meditation because I have more things to focus on (the movements) and my mind is less easily distracted by other thoughts. I simply don’t have the bandwidth to think about other things.

In Tai Chi we focus on our breathing, the specific movement, the sequencing in the form and the underlying principles. Most days that is enough to chase away other random thoughts, like what we still need to do at home, the person on the street that really bothered us, or any number of other distracting things.

Being focused in the moment and on what we are doing right now calms us down. It restores our mental balance.

Through practice we learn to enjoy the NOW. To relax, to keep your sanity and not to fret about the past or obsess about the future.

Tai Chi is no magic cure, but it helps us practice that focus and calmness, and to bring it over to our day-to-day life one step at a time.

Train Your Brain

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Train your brain and keep it sharp!

Your brain is just like your muscles. Use it or lose it. You train it and you will keep up its performance, or you get lazy and it will degenerate.

It’s proven that both mental exercises but also physical exercises help us keep our intellectual capacities. Tai Chi gives us both stimuli.

We often say that we learn the forms to not get bored. That’s only half of the truth though. Learning the form also forces us to stay alert, to listen and watch with focus, and memorize complex sequences.

Tai Chi stimulates us through physical exercise. It teaches us to focus on one thing and one thing only and get the most mileage out of our mental capabilities. It also keeps our brain engaged by keeping up and memorizing all the things that our teacher throws at us.

Practice Tai Chi and stay sharp!