Tai Chi: Vitality in Motion by Liliana Atz

Tai Chi Chi Kung is an ancient Chinese psychophysical discipline that is based on the principles of Taoist philosophy. This tradition regards the universe as an energy field, the result of the perfect interaction of the two fundamental cosmic principles Yin/Yang, which constitute the symbol of the Dao and represent the most important and characteristic concept of Daoism. Through understanding the cosmos, the universe and nature, one comes, for Taoism, to self-understanding, to one’s individual growth.

This tradition views the universe as an energy field; there is a holistic, analog view of the human being, according to which health and well-being are the consequence of man’s psychological, energetic, physiological and spiritual balance. Observation of nature and its phenomena over the millennia hypothesizes a reality in which what happens in the Macrocosm happens in a small way, by analogy, in the human Microcosm. The observation of the cyclic alternation of day and night is symbolically related to the shady and sunny side of a hill. It is a single reality that carries within itself both shadow and light, in their chasing and unchanging succession in space and time.

Here the originality of Taoist thought is manifested; opposition is there, as nature teaches, but it is relative. Darkness exists only when compared with light and any reality is never absolute. Form is generated from formlessness, just as then form will lead to formlessness. This “formlessness,” this potentiality in the making is referred to by the term Tao, literally “the Way,” the matrix of the universe. Out of nothingness emerges something that is called “WuChi,” the “non-pole,” the embryo of a still undifferentiated existence whose symbol is an empty circle, a circle that is filled into the symbol of “Tai Chi,” the “great pole.”

Tai Chi is the differentiation present in potency but not yet realized. It is still unity, but it contains within itself the potential for new birth. The symbol, with its fusion of the black part into the white part and the white part into the black part, all inscribed within a circle, communicates the idea of the intimate fusion of the two aspects that together constitute the totality of life. The Dao rotates by configuring the perpetual and inevitable transformation of the Whole. Chi (energy), the product of Yin/Yang interaction, forms the basis of the world of phenomena. In the human body it is that principle that moves, warms and protects against external influences. Health and mental/physical well-being are the natural consequence of the harmonious circulation of Chi within the network of meridians (energy channels of the body within which energy flows) while its imbalances promote the onset of disease. On the physical level, in fact, the round, slow and graceful movements allow the musculoskeletal system to be strengthened, loosen the joints, and promote the opening of the body and its internal organs. By working on the body, somatizations at the psychic level are dissolved: in a process that is reverse and complementary to the Western process, one works on the mind to make the body well.

In addition to the twelve organic meridians and Zang-Fu, Chinese medicine cites the “Eight Curious Vessels” or Extraordinary Channels as aspects on which Tai Chi Chi Kung goes to influence. Activation of these Channels on the one hand enables a reduction in the rate at which individual vitality is consumed, enhancing the potential for life and health and, on the other hand, promoting the opening of the psychic and spiritual centers, which are closely linked to these structures. It is thought, that the Eight Curious Vessels develop in the prenatal period, even before the formation of the meridians. They are, according to Mark Seem, Fundamental energy channels, closely related to the genetic code and instrumental in the manifestation of our constitutional terrain. (2)

Bottalo states that these Channels “are the foundation of the creation and continuous recreation that is life, to remind the individual that he or she must constantly and continually be reborn.” (3) Tai Chi Kung is then the meritorious work done on Chi (life energy, breath, breath…) is the art of cultivating Chi, increasing and strengthening it through external and internal techniques: breathing, posture, movement, mental concentration and meditation. Each of these elements is part and form of the other, which it can influence and modify. The exercises practiced provide skillful guidance of the life force that can be directed to every cell in the body by fostering the development of the subtle and powerful awareness of chi.

– Fundamentals of Traditional Chinese Medicine – F. Bottalo, Rosa Brotzu – Ed Xenia;
– Jin Shin Do – I.M. Teeguarden – Ed. Mediterranean; (2
– Handbook of Qi Shu – F. Bottalo – Ed. Xenia; (3)

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