Taijiwuxigong & Meditation – body awareness
How is Taijiwuxigong and meditation beneficial?
Taijiwuxigong and meditation have been developed to create better body posture which leads to overall well being.
Taijiwuxigong is a system of Chinese energy exercises developed by Dr. Shen Hongxun (Shanghai 1939 – Ghent 2011). He mastered Taiji Quan at a very young age and began teaching elderly people in the 1950’s while he was still in his teens. Noticing that they found it difficult to remember the sequence of the Taiji form, he began to develop a simple series of exercises that were much easier to remember. This was the beginning of Taijiwuxigong. Over the years Dr. Shen refined and expanded his exercise and healing system, which he has passed on to students throughout the world.
The emphasis of this system is on helping practitioners improve their body posture, which in turn improves mental and emotional wellbeing. Read: Change your body language change your mind set. Students learn to relax the muscles and open the joints so that energy can flow freely in the body and waste products can be effectively eliminated. [Tweet " Practitioners feel more energetic, as well as more relaxed in body and mind."]
Meditation and Taijiwuxigong
Meditation is an important part of Taijiwuxigong and is essential in developing body awareness. One of the basic exercises is the Wuxi stance, a meditation that can be practiced either standing or sitting. You concentrate the centre of gravity in the Dantian, which is the energy centre in the lower abdomen. You relax the mind, and simply observe what is going on inside of you, the physical sensations, the emotions, your thoughts. This is called ‘open presence meditation’ - you are aware of what is happening and you observe, without interpreting or judging.
While doing this exercise, your body may start moving of its own accord – a phenomenon that we call ‘spontaneous movements.’ When this occurs, it is important to allow these movements to happen, without judgment and without interference. It can feel rather awkward in the beginning J. However, sometimes the body knows exactly what is necessary to release tension and remove blockages - in this case, the mind needs to release control and allow these movements to flow freely.
We also use ‘focused meditation,’ whereby you focus on something specific such as the breathing, or direct your attention to a particular part of the body. Several exercises in Taijiwuxigong use this kind of focusing to create movement of energy and openness in the body.
If you focus on your breathing for instance, you will very likely experience the following stages in the meditation:
- You focus
- You notice that your mind wanders
- You become aware
- You take your attention away from the distractions
- You return to focusing on your breathing
Going through these stages is a normal part of learning to meditate, and takes place over and over again - it is nothing to worry about! And know that at each stage, different parts of the brain are activated. Research into this method of meditation shows that if you regularly practice focused meditation, you will remain more focused in everyday life. Read: Avoiding ‘burnout’ Part 2: Mindfulness in 20 minutes a day
Research on open presence meditation has shown that regular practice:
- [Tweet "helps you to feel less disturbed by daily annoyances. You develop a kind of equanimity."]
- reduces inflammation and other effects of stress at a cellular level.
- helps you to perceive pain as less disturbing. You still feel pain, but the pain stimuli are less disruptive.
- decreases the release of stress hormones during potentially stressful tasks, such as giving a speech or going for a job interview.
- can alleviate anxiety and depression and improve the quality of sleep.
[Tweet "Regularly practicing Taijiwuxigong produces similar effects to meditation"]. And because this practice is done not just sitting but also with movement, there is an added beneficial effect on the joints, the muscles, and the energy circulation in the body. The combination of action and meditation create a healing synergy.
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