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Meditation in motion

Abraham Eisenstein, M.D. |
The first thought when someone mentions words Tai Chi recalls the image of Chinese people moving slowly in a park. Tai Chi, an ancient "meditation in motion", is an easy form of exercising which helps in many health conditions and greatly reduces stress.

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If you are of western nature, you maybe forgot - or you "don't have time" - for "connecting the mind and body", but that Chinese form of slow movement has many advantages over another types of exercising and western medicine acknowledges it's benefits for a variety of health conditions.

Tai Chi, or Tai Chi Chuan, is an exercise which maintains flexibility and strength. The word "Chi" means energy and it is believed from the ancient times that it exists in all living creatures. The Chinese believe that good health, both mental and physical, is related to the flow of Chi energy through "meridians" in our body. Chinese medicine says: If Chi is weak or blocked, the result is an illness. So, if we want to be healthy, we must restore the proper flow of Chi. One way of restoring that flow is the practice of Tai Chi.

With all religious belief put aside, many scientific researches proved that Tai Chi can contribute greatly to our health: it lowers blood pressure, helps with coronary problems, lowers the arthritic pain, and strengthens our immune system. Tai Chi also reduces depression, reduce falls in elderly, improves sleep, improves cardiovascular system, relieves chronic pain, and improves overall feelings of well-being. Maybe this holiday season, with all it frantic shopping and running around it's the best time to start thinking about Tai Chi or even better - to start to practice it.

If you want to start with exercising your age doesn't matter at all. If you recall the picture from the beginning of this article, you may recall that Chinese people in their 90's practice Tai Chi every day. Tai Chi uses slow movements and that in turn means that you can be totally out of shape and still begin to practice it successfully. While exercising, you perform a series of slow moves that flows one into another without pause and your body is in a constant motion.

Tai Chi has many different styles and every style has its own principles and methods. There are also variations within each style, and the result of all those variations is that there are more than 100 possible movements in Tai Chi. All forms of Tai Chi include rhythmic movement coordinated with breathing. That concentration forces you to think about every move, thus putting aside distressing thoughts.

We already said that moves are slow and gentle, but how long does it take? It takes just 15 minutes a day. That's not a miracle that cures in 15 minutes, but you must exercise regularly. It's hard to imagine another method or exercise which can help you after a bad day at work or lift you up from depression in just 15 minutes. So, find an instructor in your city, and give it a try. We believe what's good for 100 millions of Chinese people for 2000 years will be good for you too. The chance is Tai Chi could easily be the best New Year's health resolution you ever made.


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