Always an issue, managing stress right now is even more important for each of us. COVID-19, unemployment, businesses closed, how to safely open schools, are among the things that weigh on our minds, keep us from sleeping well, raise our blood pressure, make us anxious. What do we do?
We must be intentional. We must move our bodies, as we are able. We must breathe. My daily choice that embodies these elements is Tai Chi. Even after 20 years of teaching, I continue to get the question, “What is Tai Chi?” Often it is called a moving meditation, with it’s slow continuous movements creating stillness within. The movements are based on the natural rhythms of nature – emulating water, mountains, trees, animals, birds, spinning silk out of a cocoon. Moves are slow, graceful, focusing on relaxing, moving energy and shifting weight. Our minds clear, tension and stress dissipate.
I love Tai Chi outside, beside or close to a tree. With nature. Trees bring up earth energy, including moisture and nutrients to grow, be strong, stand erect, develop buds and new leaves, repeating the cycle every year. We start each of my Tai Chi classes standing with legs parallel, hip-width apart, visualizing our legs and feet like the trunk of a tree, rooted into the earth. We want to bring up earth energy to nourish and guide our movements, while relaxing our limbs and shoulders.
For the nice summer and fall days, I recommend going outside, walking and doing Tai Chi near a tree, to remember what that tree teaches us and to use its energy to guide our movements. The last two weekends some of my students and I gathered in a city park for Tai Chi practice. We did our Tai Chi walk in a circle around a big tree. We felt the ground beneath our feet, the energy and stability of the tree and the gentle breeze flowing across our faces. We practiced our form, including Crane Spreads its Wings, Roll back and grasp the sparrows tail, brush knee, etc. Feeling the solid earth upon which we stood, flowing with nature that surrounded us.
I highly recommend Tai Chi outside, on the grass, by a tree, by a lake or mountain. You don’t even have to know Tai Chi to benefit – walk slowly and methodically around a tree, go barefoot in the grass. Focusing on Tai Chi, on your walking, on blades of grass, on the birds’ calls, can help to manage stress and clear your mind. Try it when you can this summer and fall and be amazed at how good you can feel