Experience Exchange

Increase Happiness with Tai Chi and Qigong Practice

by Jeff Simonton

Our ability to adapt plays a big role in whether we are able to live a generally happy and stress-free life.  I know that I’m certainly not the first one to figure it out, yet I feel each and every one of us needs to figure it out through an individual and unique path.  For me it was my Tai Chi and Qigong practice that slowly brought about the realization.

Science has proven that people naturally have different levels of serotonin, so some may find it easier than others to consistently remain happy even during difficult times.  We have all met individuals that seem to pick everyone else up around them, and their counter-parts that have an uncanny ability to bring everyone down.  Most of us fall somewhere in the middle. So the question arises on whether or not we have the ability to improve our overall level of happiness.  I certainly believe this is achievable, and I would like to discuss how a solid Qigong practice can aid in this endeavor.

Qigong Practice

Qigong practice to me is ultimately about increasing awareness and being more at peace with ourselves and the world around us.  When you reach a high level of practice, Qigong becomes integrated with every aspect of life.  This is something that occurs naturally over time and is the result of establishing a consistent high-quality routine.

When I speak of Qigong being integrated into life, I am referring to every action becoming more harmonious.  I have heard one teacher describe it as “effortless flow” and this is a good way of describing it I think.  The idea is to be like water which can adapt effortlessly to any situation.  Bruce Lee had a famous quote about being like water, and it applies whether we are speaking about energy for martial arts or energy for life.

“Empty your mind, be formless, shapeless – like water. Now you put water into a cup, it becomes the cup, you put water into a bottle, it becomes the bottle, you put it in a teapot, it becomes the teapot. Now water can flow or it can crash. Be water, my friend.” – Bruce Lee

Be Like Water

When you become more like water you suddenly stop feeling like everything takes a great deal of effort to achieve.  This is because you are adapting effortlessly to your environment.  You don’t worry as much about the future and you fret less over the past.  Suddenly you are living more in the moment.  I feel that most people do not live in the moment, and that is true now more than at any other point in history.  There are countless distractions leading us all one from thing to the next, so it has become increasingly difficult to be fully aware and present in the moment.

To be more like water and achieve an effortless flow it is necessary to slow down.  With all the wonderful distractions surrounding us our monkey minds are having a field day, but the joke is on us.  With our minds racing along in multiple directions at once we can never truly enjoy what we are doing at that exact moment.

Chinese character of double happiness

My advice is to stop.  Stop and take 3-5 slow breaths while focusing on the lower abdomen.  Now take a look around.  This simple exercise may make you realize that you were more distracted than you thought.  It has a way of snapping you back into the present moment where you can think more clearly and move through your activity with less effort.  The key is to do this every time you realize that your mind is distracted or you are getting stressed out.

Set a filter in your head to catch when you are becoming distracted or stressed out and over time you will increase your level of happiness and reduce your stress.  This is a very simple yet effective way to begin integrating Qigong practice into your life.

[Jef f has studied a variety of martial arts since the time he was a child, which eventually led to an interest in the self-healing arts.  He began learning Medical Qigong in 2000 under Master Binhui He, teaching it in 2003, and continues his studies today in Sin Tien Wuji Qigong, Original Yang Tai Chi, and Hop Gar Kung Fu under the guidance of Sifu Chris Heintzman and Grandmaster David Chin.  He has taught Qigong & Tai Chi Lessons and lectured at many fine institutions in North Carolina such as UNC Wellness Center, UNC Medical School, Teer House at Duke, and Meredith College.  Jeff is dedicated to increasing awareness about the benefits of Qigong by providing access to online Qigong & Tai Chi Classes, retreats, and workshops. ]
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