T'ai Chi is a Daily Stress Floss
by Bill Douglas, Founder of World Tai Chi & Qigong Day
Reprinted with permission
You may wonder what T'ai Chi and dental flossing have in common. A great deal actually. Did you know that those who floss their teeth everyday have a much lower risk of heart disease? This is because they get less gum infections. Gum infections affect the entire body, including the heart. When one doesn't floss and thereby gets regular gum infections the heart is put under a subtle but constant strain, a strain that over time wears the heart out faster than for those who floss daily.
Stress affects the whole body, just as gum infections do. Stress is a form of energy that is accumulated in the body, and wears on it little by little. The human body is made of energy, and thoughts and feelings that bombard our busy lives each day are energy flowing through us. Some of which we "hold onto," just as the teeth hold onto microparticles of food. Therein lies the problem. There is of course tissue that is connected with the rest of the body through biochemical interactions and exchanges, but the bottom line is that all this is made of atoms. And atoms are made of subatomic particles, and subatomic particles are made of energy waves. Therefore, this energy body we exist in can and does accumulate stress, not unlike the way our teeth collect particles that eventually become plaque if left undisturbed for more than 17 hours. Just as the teeth collect food particles, the body collects stress as dammed up energy, which eventually becomes muscle tension, chronic aches or pain, high blood pressure, or even organic deterioration if ignored long enough. But, at first it is energy that the mind or body holds onto.
If the energy is released early enough, it does no organic damage at all, just as the debris we collect in our mouths does no damage if flossed away everyday. The damage only occurs when the "stuff" is left undisturbed and eventually builds up to separate the gums from the teeth where infections grow. So, with daily stress, if we ignore it and try to pack it away by distracting ourselves with television, endless busyness or workaholism, or empty calorie taste snacks, the stress just builds up within the energy field that is our body. Our mind is distracted from it by the above habits, but it is still there disrupting the clarity of the mind and body, just below the surface. Eventually it builds up to a point where it interferes with the organic function of the body.
Therefore, it is best if we incorporate T'ai Chi and the relaxation therapies of Qigong into our daily routine as much as possible. Most of us in the modern world completely ignore our physical well being until we are "sick," because modern life provides so many diversions designed to take our minds out of our internal awareness. T'ai Chi can help us balance modern life with internal awareness, which is very important for the following reason. Many of us ignore the health of our gums until the dentist starts scraping away plaque, or worse yet cutting away diseased gums. Then, of course, we become conscious. T'ai Chi helps us to daily touch in, to become conscious, of our state of being so we can cleanse or floss the stress from our cellular, atomic, or energetic structure.
In my children's classes I always ask the kids the first day of class, "Can you feel inside your body?" They always answer, "No." This is because we are not taught to be "conscious" of what occurs inside ourselves, neither in our gums, or our energy bodies. So then, I ask the kids if they ever get a "stomach ache," or a "head ache," they always acknowledge that indeed they do. T'ai Chi, I explain, teaches us how to "feel" inside ourselves everyday so that we can "let go" of the tensions that may have built up to become a stomach or head ache if left ignored. T'ai Chi is therefore not unlike a "body floss." In fact, when you practice T'ai Chi your body produces more T-Cells, T lymphocytes that are known to consume virus, bacteria, and even tumor cells. T'ai Chi also elevates DHEA levels which are a sign of a healthy immune system. When under chronic stress the energy body "tightens up" and squeezes off the natural flow of healthy systems. This is most commonly seen in high blood pressure where the blood vessels are compressed diminishing the pathways and causing increased blood pressure to force it through. Tai Chi is known to improve "microcirculation" because as the energy body "relaxes open" the capillaries relax open and allow greater circulation, relaxed and healthful circulation.
A big problem with many new students to T'ai Chi or Qigong, is that we are raised to wait for a physical crisis or pain before becoming conscious of our state of being, so we put T'ai Chi and Qigong in the same category as pills or shots. Meaning that although new students quickly realize that they feel great when they do T'ai Chi, because of our "unconsciousness of health," we think, I'll just continue to ignore how I feel everyday, and then when I'm not feeling well, I'll do T'ai Chi then and it'll make me better. Actually, it will make you better, but it isn't the way to get the most out of T'ai Chi. If you floss when you haven't flossed for a long time, your gums usually bleed, and often you'll get a new gum infection. It takes a while for the gums to "toughen up." However, once you floss for a few days, the gums seem capable of handling challenges, without bleeding or swelling. After you learn T'ai Chi and practice it for a few months, you begin to notice how things that made you upset, nervous, or even sick, before you "settled into" your daily T'ai Chi practice, now have very little effect on you. That is because your daily T'ai Chi practice "toughens" your energy body, enabling all your health systems to be enhanced, as your mind and body "loosen up" and release your daily tension loads. The sounds and fears, and challenges and frustrations, flow through you just like before, but T'ai Chi has taught your energy body to "let go" of them as they flow through you, leaving you in a much clearer state at the end of the day.
Sometimes it is hard to get your lazy duff up outta' the chair and do your T'ai Chi, just like some nights its so easy to skip the flossing and just fall into bed. But a famous American, Ben Franklin, said, "A stitch in time, saves nine." Ben didn't know about T'ai Chi, but I bet if he had he would've been out there doing his T'ai Chi every day. Do yourself a favor and T'ai Chi every day. There are so many chronic health problems that can be avoided or even healed, by simply taking the time to do T'ai Chi every day of your life. Plus, it just feels good, kind of like the medicine Mom used to give you that tasted just like liquid bubble gum. You almost looked forward to taking it. Over time as you feel T'ai Chi's benefits over and over again, you will look forward to T'ai Chi in much the same way. Remember, a T'ai Chi a day, keeps the doctor away.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Bill Douglas is the Tai Chi Expert at DrWeil.com, Founder of World T'ai Chi & Qigong Day (held in 60 nations each year), and has authored and co-authored several books including a #1 best selling Tai Chi book The Complete Idiot’s Guide to T’ai Chi & Qigong. Bill’s been a Tai Chi source for The Wall Street Journal, New York Times, etc. You can learn more about Tai Chi & Qigong, search a worldwide teachers directory, and also contact Bill Douglas at http://www.worldtaichiday.org
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