Symbolism is the most suitable and usable way for humans to pass on teachings and thoughts, the most natural way. This is easily understood when one considers that language itself, after all, is symbolism. Any human expression is a symbol of thought that is outwardly translated; the only difference remains in the fact that language is analytical and discursive, while symbolism is essentially intuitive.
The symbolic body language manifested in the precise movements of Tai Chi Chuan, known as a martial art and for the undoubted benefits it brings to the practitioner’s health, conceals other messages, linking Eastern culture to the latest discoveries in Western science and psychology.
Let’s see how.
When the yet-to-be manifested energy, or Wuji, begins to move, it gives rise to the first Yin (feminine) – Yang (masculine) polarization from which Chi or energy originates. Chi like everything that exists in the universe is the manifestation of the cyclic movement of the Tao (1), the Way, whose symbol is now well known.
These are the principles behind the discipline of Tai Chi Chuan. The whole universe, visible or invisible is given by the interaction of Yin-Yang.
Tai Chi Chuan, the ancient Chinese psycho-physical discipline, has its historical roots in the principles of Traditional Chinese Medicine, which prescribed breathing exercises, body massages, and hand and foot exercises as early as 1,000 BCE.
Taoists introduced Chi Kung, a series of psycho-physical and respiratory exercises, for health maintenance, prevention and treatment of diseases.
Energy gymnastics, which were constantly studied, expanded and integrated with ancient Kung-fu styles, gave birth to Tai Chi Chuan.
But this definition of Tai Chi is only one aspect of it, as a balanced body is but the logical consequence of harmonious energy circulation.
Man, as a child of Heaven and Earth is healthy only when he can keep himself in harmony between the ascending Breaths of Earth (Yin) and the descending ones of Heaven (Yang).
Movement as the basis of life.
In M.° Flavio Daniele’s book “Tao Science and the Art of Fighting ” Prof. Carlo Ventura states : “There is no important biological phenomenon that is not caused by movement. …It turns out that there is no change in gene activity that does not occur without movements of the DNA, deformations and vibrations of the nucleus and that complex of microfilaments and microtubules that we call cytoskeleton. The movements precede the same changes in function at the various cellular levels. …Applying a sound vibration to a cell or to signal molecules within a cell can cause these structures to vibrate, generating changes in morphology and function. Sounds and movements can thus be seen as a “molecular dialogue” within cells and tissues.”
Law of Three in Motion
From the union of the formless, represented by the inherited energies of the male sperm and the female ovum with the acquired energies, that is, with what the innate energies are capable of producing after fertilization, the energy horizon of a new being, the fruit, the union of the masculine with the feminine, of the passive with the active, the number Three, the neutralizer, comes into being.
In Chinese culture, “Dantian” is the name that Traditional Medicine physiology gives to the three points in the body where Chi is stored and accumulated and from which it then radiates through the meridians into the body. These concepts connect to Taoist Inner Alchemy, meditative techniques and then Tai Chi, whereby the body is divided into three areas, each presenting a fulcrum, called the Cinnabar Field, where the essence of the primal One resides (2).
Western psychology is also approaching these concepts. Eric Berne’s transactional analysis, for example, theorizes the individual’s psychic structure or “Ego” as consisting of three structures represented graphically as one personality, namely the three ego states, each with its own functions. Each ego state has positive and negative aspects, depending on whether it promotes or impedes a person’s independence.
The Parent Ego guards experiences and examples.
The Child Ego encompasses spontaneity and emotionality.
The Adult Ego is the part where information is processed.
How to make these aspects communicate?
Transactional analysis proposes “healing” through the enhancement of the Adult’s “problem solving” skills, through the use of emotions, no longer understood as an obstacle, but as a tool aimed at satisfying and solving one’s needs.
The way of the Heart, the way of the emotions, the way of Chi, turns out to be, as mystics have always claimed, the frontier between the instinctual center and the mental-spiritual center, the “way of evolution” for mankind of all times. And it is in fact deep in the brain areas of the limbic system and hypothalamus that the electrochemical processes that result in what we call “emotions” take place. From here, through the mediation of specific substances, neurotransmitters, messages are carried throughout the body-mind.
“It is becoming increasingly clear,” says the Prof. Ventura- that the development of the nervous and cardiovascular systems occur through a coordinated action of common factors that guide the differentiation and migration of future neuronal and cardiovascular cells. Very recent research shows strong parallels in the development of both systems …..”
Movement catalyzing emotions, then, which stimulate a different interaction of the three brains.
This is where the power of the Tai Chi movement comes in.
Starting with conscious work on the body and thus the neocortex, patterns related to the functioning of the nervous system, the three brains, are modified over time. One works alchemically on the three Dantians, according to Eastern language, stimulating a redefinition of the psycho-physical boundaries embedded in time, to restore psycho-physical-spiritual balance, to return to the One.
- Tao:All matter in the universe, living or nonliving is traversed by this eternal, essential and fundamental force. The Tao symbol represents the universe. From an initial phase of no differentiation, two polarities of different and complementary signs were formed, representing the fundamental principles of the universe: Yin, the negative, passive principle, represented by the color black, and Yang, the positive, active principle, represented by the color white.
- Primeval:the first originated.
Excerpt from: Science and Knowledge
Science, Tao and the Art of Fighting – Flavio Daniele – Luni Editrice;
Fragments of an unknown teaching – P.D. Ouspensky – Ed. Astrolabe;
Chinese Medicine – Ted J.Kaptchuk – Ed. Red;
Huangdi Neijing – Jaca Book;
Candance Pert – Molecules of Emotions – Ed. Tea.