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Wednesday, October 12, 2011
Forgotten How to Relax? Try T’ai Chi
James Mao, T'ai Chi Master
What was your earliest memory? More than likely it was a time when you were carefree and didn’t
fret or worry. You played, ate, slept,
and focused on what was before you.
Then challenges came along (after age 10 most likely) and you began to
gradually forget how to relax.
Are you interested in regaining this kind of
relaxation? If so, T’ai Chi Chuan may
be for you. I interviewed my T’ai Chi
teacher Master James Mao for this blog post because of the many ways it has
helped me achieve a greater inner resilience and feel healthier.
Master Mao has practiced the Yang Style of T’ai Chi for 12
years and martial arts for 35 years. During our interview, Master Mao observed
that relaxation is the most important principle of T’ai Chi. The more relaxed
you are, he said, the more you can tap into a universal energy. This energy comes from using Chi that comes
from the Dan Tien from just below the navel.
Master Mao mentioned that he gained more energy, his body
became stronger, and his tendon system was enhanced once he practiced the form
correctly each day. His students most
often mention to him that they have a better temper, more energy, their muscles
are stronger, and they feel healthier from doing T’ai Chi.
How did Master Mao get started with T’ai Chi? He grew up in Asia where T’ai Chi is known
as a very powerful martial art. He
studied a number of martial arts like Judo, karate, and wrestling. Then he
studied with T’ai Chi Master Julian Ju whose internal power was so strong that
James Mao became curious about how he could acquire this level of internal
T'ai Chi Class with Master Mao
T’ai Chi is most beneficial when practiced the form 4 – 8
times each day. The form comes with a
warm up and a meditation (called Universal Standing). The meditation is a way to harmonize with the universe by
emptying your mind. During the
meditation, the head is suspended as if from the sky. Your mind is expanded and freed to see things from many different
angles. Imagine you are in a 3 or 4 dimensional environment. For example, “It’s as if you are in a park
and see a tree, you become the tree, and then you see the tree again,” reported
What you learn by observing things from different
perspectives can be used in other areas of life such as in resolving
disputes. When two persons each insist
on their respective point of view, they find no resolution according to Master
Mao. Minds become focused, limited, and
can’t be calmed. Resolution comes when
you no longer insist on your opinion and can release the narrowed
How to get started with learning T’ai Chi? Master Mao advises that, “You need to be
patient. T’ai Chi isn’t a cure all, and
is a long-term commitment. Don’t expect
to learn it quickly,” he said. He also mentioned that you need a teacher as a
role model so that you can aspire to reaching his/her level.
What are your comments or questions about T’ai Chi?