There are many practices, techniques and disciplines that bring a sense of presence to our life and being. Among them are the arts of Taichi & Qigong. When we engage in these profound practices we learn how to be in our present experience with our mind and body. This can be one of the greatest gifts we can offer to ourselves and others.
Although Taichi and Qigong are renowned for their martial and medical aspects respectively, they both are also practices that bring attention into the present moment. By resting our focus in the body movements and letting our minds be relaxed and in the now, a very profound cultivation is taking place, one that creates a new habit, the habit of presence.
Have you ever had something delicious to eat only to realize at the end that you didn’t pay attention to it? When this happens we lost touch with our present experience. Flavors, smells, sounds, etc. Are no being noticed because we are lost “somewhere” else. Maybe we were thinking about work and similarly later on in the workplace, we might find ourselves thinking about the activities we want to do later. So somehow we tend to miss our present moment, but actually the present moment is the only moment we truly have. This can become an opposite habit then that of presence, and especially in this fast paced modern times, much stress is a result from an overthinking and over worrying mind.
When we practice Taichi and Qigong, our minds are in synchrony with our bodies, and that anchors us to the present because our bodies are always in the here and the now. Soon we realize that if we get carried away by worries about the future, regrets about the past or any other thought, we miss a movement or our balance is compromised. In a sense we could that when that happens we stop practicing Taichi or Qigong, and this could be true for our lives as well. So as we do our practice we are deepening our relationship with presence, our intention to be more and more in it becomes stronger and by doing so more and more we begin to experience deep tranquility and relaxation together with a sense of richness and wellbeing.
Western science recently acknowledged what was once a not so accepted notion. Whereas in the past it was believed that neural connections in the brain were genetically fixed, which means that certain skills not developed in the first years of life where almost impossible to develop later. Today it is known that through repetitive physical and mental practices and actions, and as new habits are formed, the brain can actually “rewire” itself throughout life. This they called neuroplasticity. So what once was a not so natural ability can become natural—and such ability and habit can be presence itself.
Presence, then is something we can cultivate through Taichi and Qigong but carry it into our daily lives. It can be experienced even in the beginning phases of learning the art. As you walk outside after your practice session ends, you might realize you are acutely aware of how your body moves and breathes. Colors and textures seem more alive, and the breeze caressing your skin or the flavors of the food you eat are all experienced more fully. When this happens an appreciation for life arises, and that is the beauty of presence. The good news is that the present moment is always there waiting to be noticed, and by practicing Taichi & Qigong it becomes natural.
Masters Mei and Dazhu will be at Long Tou Shan teaching Taichi & Qigong throughout 2017. We invite you to come and experience for yourself the transformative qualities of these profound practices in a beautiful and very conducive place.