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.
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.
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!