A Mind Body Connection

AN OVERVIEW OF THE MIND BODY CONNECTION

Chinese medicine and Ayurveda are traditionally founded on the basis that good health lies in balance. In Chinese medicine it is the proper balance of the body’s vital energy (qi or chi), and in Ayurveda the three physiological principles called doshas need to be in balance for optimum health. The Greek physician, Hippocrates, wrote about the humors, or four properties, which must be in balance for a person to be healthy. Across these systems, we find that the balance between the mind and body is a key factor. There is a strong belief that the state of mind can influence the state of the body, or the other way round.

The Power of the Mind
Many traditional medical systems make use of the interconnectedness of the mind and body, and their ability to affect each other. There has been a growing scientific movement during the past 30 years, to explore the mind’s capacity to affect the body. Clinically, this is called mind-body medicine.

The power of the mind’s ability to influence bodily response has now become more apparent in the medical studies. The discovery of the complex interactions between the mind and the neurological and immune systems has stimulated much medical interest, and resulted in a rapid expansion in the area of psychoneuroimmunology.

Mind-body interventions are increasingly being incorporated as part the treatment process. These include psychotherapy, support groups, meditative activities such as yoga or Taijiquan, imagery, hypnosis, biofeedback, dance therapy, music therapy, art therapy, prayer and mental healing. We explore below, some of these methods.

Psychotherapy
Psychotherapy encompasses a wide range of treatments from combining medication with discussion, to simply listening to the concerns of a patient, to using more active behavioral and emotive approaches. Conventionally, psychotherapy is done primarily through psychologic methods such as suggestion, persuasion, psychoanalysis, and reeducation. All of the therapies can be undertaken either individually or in groups. Research indicates that psychotherapeutic treatment can hasten a recovery from a medical crisis and is in some cases the best treatment for it. Psychotherapy also appears to be valuable in the treatment of somatic illnesses in which physical symptoms appear to have no medical cause. These symptoms are often improved markedly with psychotherapy. In addition, psychotherapy has been shown to speed patients’ recovery time from illness.

Support Groups
There is a widely documented success with Support groups, which are proven to have a powerful, positive effect in a wide variety of physical illnesses, from heart disease to cancer, from asthma to strokes. The success rate could be related to 2 major advantages. One, that these groups help members form bonds with each other, thus empowering the rest of their lives; Two, they are low cost or even "no cost" (for example, Alcoholics Anonymous).

Meditative Activities
Meditative activities are self-directed practices for relaxing the body, strengthening it, and calming the mind. Most meditative exercises were brought to the West from the Far East, particularly India, China, and Japan. The health benefits have long been recognized, especially in Taijiquan. It has not only been explored as a means of reducing stress on both mind and body, it is often recommend as a way of reducing high blood pressure.

Some studies have found that regular practise of such exercises may result in lower healthcare cost. In fact, persistent practise increases longevity, quality of life, reduces chronic pain, reduces anxiety, reduces high blood pressure, reduces serum cholesterol level, reduces substance abuse, increases intelligence-related measures, reduces blood pressure, and lowers blood cortisol levels initially brought on by stress.

Imagery
Imagery combines both mental process (as in imagining) and a wide variety of behavioural approaches to encourage changes in attitudes, behavior, or physiological reactions. It has proven to be effective in the treatment of cancer to help patients mobilize their immune systems. It also forms part of a multidisciplinary approach to cardiac rehabilitation and in many settings that specialize in treating chronic pain.

Hypnosis
Healing by Hypnosis is the induction of trance states, through the use of therapeutic suggestion. Today, it is widely used for addictions, such as smoking and drug use, for pain controls, and for phobias, such as the fear of flying.

Biofeedback
Biofeedback is a treatment method using instruments to feed back physiological information to patients themselves. By monitoring the device, patients can learn to adjust, by trial and error, their thinking in order to control bodily processes; previously thought to be involuntary–such as blood pressure, temperature, gastrointestinal functioning, and brain wave activity.

Dance Therapy
Dance therapy has been demonstrated to be clinically effective in the following: developing body image, improving self-concept and increasing self-esteem; facilitating attention; ameliorating depression, decreasing fears and anxieties, expressing anger; decreasing isolation, increasing communication skills and fostering solidarity; decreasing bodily tension, reducing chronic pain, and enhancing circulatory and respiratory functions; reducing suicidal ideas, increasing feelings of well-being, and promoting healing; and increasing verbalization.

Music Therapy
Music therapy is used for people with developmental disabilities, community mental health centers, drug and alcohol programs, senior centers, nursing homes, hospice programs, correctional facilities, halfway houses, schools, and private practice. It has been found that music therapy is effective as an analgesic, as a relaxant and anxiety reducer for infants and children, and as an adjunctive treatment with burn patients, cancer patients, cerebral palsy patients, and stroke, brain injury, or ParkinsonÆs disease patients.

Art Therapy
Art therapy is used to reconcile emotional conflicts, foster self-awareness, and express unspoken and frequently unconscious concerns about a disease. Besides its use in treatment, it can be used to assess individuals, couples, families, and groups.

Prayer and Mental Healing
Generally, there are 2 main types of Prayer and mental healing techniques. In one, the healer enters into an altered state of consciousness in which he views himself and the patient as a single entity. There is usually no physical contact and no attempt to "do anything" or "give something" to the person in need, only the desire to unite and "become one" with him or her and with the Universe, God, or Cosmos. The other type, uses the sense of touch to transmit an energy flow from their hands to the patients’ affected areas. Both Healer and patient claim a feeling of heat arises. Most studies in this area are not conclusive.

Conclusion
Such therapies or activities offer people the chance to be actively involved in their own health care. These are alternative approaches where our medical system nowadays is too technical, impersonal, remote, and "uncaring". The mind-body approach is a reminder of the importance of human connection that releases our own powers of belief that we can control the directions of our life.

Adapted from an article by James Adams.
Reference Source : Alternative Medicine – Expanding Medical Horizons, a report prepared under the auspices of the Workshop on Alternative Medicine, held in Chantilly VA on September 14-16, 1992. National Institutes of Health.

Teaching Taijiquan in its true traditional form

Some people practice Taijiquan primarily for self-defence or fighting, and others are more interested in its beneficial effects on physical and mental health.  The true taijiquan schools from a traditional lineage impart their training within a martial art context, even if a majority of their students profess that they are only interested in learning for the claimed health benefits.

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Why is Taijiquan (Tai Chi Chuan) moving so slowly?

The best difinition I come across so far from this newsgroup rec.martial-arts‘s
FAQs:

“The goal of moving slowly is to insure correct attention is paid to proper
body mechanics and the maintenance of the prerequisite relaxation.

“The goal of training is to cultivate a kind of “whole body”
power. This refers to the ability to generate power with the entire
body, making full use of one’s whole body mass in every movement.
Power is always generated from “the bottom up,” meaning the powerful
muscles of the legs and hips serve as the seat of power. Using the
strength of the relatively weaker arms and upper body is not
emphasized.”

It also touched on the goal of push hand:

“The goal of two person training is
to develop sensitivty to the point that one may avoid the opponent’s
power and apply one’s own whole body power wher the opponent is most
vulnerable. One must cultivate the ability to “stick” to the opponent,
smothering the others’ power and destroying their balance. Finally,
the formal combat techniques must be trained until they become a
reflexive reaction. “

That is why I don’t understand Push Hand competition, as push hand is part of training curiculum and different schools/styles have different Push Hand routine. In order to benefit from Push Hand training, both have to learn the same push hand routine and from there, try out the different techniques (Peng, Lu, Ji, An, Cai, Lei, Zhou, Koa etc..)

What is Internal Art?

To me, internal is more of the training approach. For internal art it start from ROU or gentle. ROU is different from soft.
Mud is soft, once you pressed it, it will be deformed and stay in that shape. This is not what ROU is about. Rou is like bamboo plant (note i used plant not stick).When you push it, you will feel a resistance from the bamboo. When you release it, it will bounce back.

Note:

A lot of people translated ROU as soft, this is not correct. If you check the chinese dictionary, it refer to plant that can be bend and/or straightened ¡°本义:树木可曲可直¡±.

For beginner to understand it and then to do it is not easy, as most of us are so used to brute force.  Also the initial main objective is to learn to relax and link the whole body in order to generate power with the entire body or what some called NEI JING. This required proper and correct body mechanic with prerequisite relaxation. This is where your master come in and correct your posture. A lot of people get bored or give up in this stage, while others do not have the right master that know about proper body mechanic.

Chen style is always associated with low stance, but low stance is not confined to Chen Style, the traditional Yang and Wu Style also required low stance for beginner. Wu Style Wu Tu Nan even claimed that he trained to do the form under the dining table. Not to mentioned  that Xing Yi and Bagua required low stance as well for beginner.  Below is video clip of GMaster Tung Ying Chieh (董英杰) which has a lower stance then today Yang stylists.

 

 

Fitness versus Health

We wrote this article back in 2004:

Exercise, for most us, mean making regular visits to the health-club and subjecting yourself to cardio workouts for a strong heart, step classes for a firm bottom, or weight training to get rid of the flab dangling around your upper arms and abdominal area. In order to ensure that you attend classes regularly, you make yourself pay a pretty bundle for a class (as you would feel the pinch if you did not attend). That cash you cough up was meant to compensate for that lack of self-discipline to do your own fitness routine at home. But will putting yourself through this entire health-club routine be a guarantee that you are on the road to health?

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Characteristics of Chen Style Taiji (Tai Chi)

CHEN STYLE TAIJIQUAN (Tai Chi Fist) is characterised by its Chan Si Jing or a spiral-like momentum of force and its harmonious balance of contradicting movements (Just like the Tai Chi Symbol with black contradicting with white). There are alternating fast and slow movements unlike other Taijiquan styles, which tend to have a slower and more even pace. There are moments when it needs to be executed very fast, and moments when you need to let it go slow. The Chan Si Jing originates from the Qi residing at your waist area, or Dantian. The mandatory requirement is that all movements originate from the waist, using the waist as the primary pivotal axis – always. Another distinctive characteristic is the bursts of energy when the punches (or force) are executed, called Fah Jing.