A Physical and Spiritual Life Changer
James credits his involvement with Tai Chi and Wu Dao Gong with changing
the direction of his life.
“I tried yoga but I didn’t like it much. The positions stretched me but
it was hard to relax. I’d always been interested in Chinese medicine
and philosophies so I had a feeling for Tai Chi and the concept appealed
more than the Indian background of yoga.
I must have begun Tai Chi in 2002 because I learnt the whole of the
traditional Yang form and then we changed to the Hun Yuan in 2003. A
few years later I was becoming a bit overweight. When my doctor measured
my waist, he told me I was a prime candidate for the triple threat of
diabetes, heart attack and stroke. I needed more strenuous exercise and
less cheese and salami!
I began the Wu Dao Gong martial arts training to develop better cardio
fitness and discovered it’s a real workout. I sweat a lot.”
Looking at this slim, fit, energetic man in his early sixties, it’s
difficult to believe he was ever overweight.
“I had a massage recently and the masseuse was very impressed with my
shoulder and back flexibility, and my muscle tone. She said most people
my age are very tight in those areas.”
Physical fitness is just one of the benefits James has gained. He
really enjoys the Qigong training because his occupation involves shift
work and can be very stressful. He credits Tai Chi and Wu Dao Gong
with his ability to maintain concentration and focus during the worst
moments in his job.
“Tai Chi is a very grounding thing for me. I’m more mindful of tension
in my body and am able to release that consciously when I’m under
stress. It’s a really valuable tool. Tai Chi has become part of my
life. It’s been a physical and emotional life changer.
Doing Qigong is like giving yourself an acupuncture session – making the
qi flow freely. It enhances and focuses the internal energy. The Tai
Chi form and the Qigong end up being the same thing.
I also feel a strong spiritual dimension. I can feel the energy centres
when I practise Qigong. I think these are the body’s link to the
universe where we become connected to everything around us, and become
part of it.”
“The most difficult thing for me was and is finding time to practise.
Because my free time changes constantly depending on the shifts I work,
it’s hard to set up a routine. It’s best when I have the morning free.
When I first started, Brett always told us to practise but I was never
sure exactly what to do and how to make the most efficient use of my
time. I devised my own routine to take in both the Tai Chi form and the
Wu Dao Gong training.
I’ve done the Bang (Stick form), Sensing Hands, the Ruler and the Hun
Yuan Qigong set. I’ve been going to classes nonstop since I first began
although I may have taken a term off once when I hurt my knee. I used
to have a little trouble with my back but I haven’t had any problems
with it for ages.”
Originally from New Zealand, James sometimes thinks of returning to his
birthplace to be closer to family and old friends but then – “There’s no
Tai Chi Academy in New Zealand.”
(This is an actual interview, but the name
has been changed for reasons of privacy.)