1. What does T’ai Chi Chih mean?
T’ai Chi in Chinese means “Supreme Ultimate,” and is a synonym for Tao (“the Oneness or Origin of All Things”). Chih can be translated as “Knowledge” or “Clarity.” T’ai Chi Chih leads us to knowledge of the Supreme Ultimate, through knowledge of ourselves. T’ai Chi Chih consists of 19 simple, repetitive, non strenuous movements and one (1) pose, which involve no physical contact, but rather emphasize a soft, flowing continuity of motion. Little practice space is required: the movements can easily be performed wherever there is enough space to stand and take a few steps in any direction. T’ai Chi Chih can be performed by anyone, regardless of age or physical condition. The substantial benefits of T’ai Chi Chih are surprisingly easy to realize with regular practice.
2. What is Chi (also spelled “qi”) and where does it come from?
Chi is Life Force Energy. Chi is the force of the Cosmos, between heaven and earth. It is the primal life energy that we receive from our parents’; the air we breath; the food we eat; and in all of nature. In T’ai Chi Chih movements, the secret is in learning to stimulate, circulate, and balance the body’s intrinsic energy, known as chi, so that we can bring about rejuvenation, healing, and a profound change in our mindbody and spirit. Chi is a blueprint, a guide, and a mirror reflection of our body as a teacher. Blockage of chi in the one’s body can reflect back as dis-ease, and stagnation, physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually. This invisible force can be felt as one begins to practice T’ai Chi. Chi can manifest differently in everyone from tingling in one’s fingertips, a magnetic pulling sensation between the hands, one’s hands feeling full or getting larger, to a flowing river of energy pulsing through one’s body.
3. What is the meaning of the yin/yang symbol and how does it relate to T’ai Chi Chih?
The yin/yang symbol is the interlocking, melting together of the flow of movement within a circle. It is the principle of the merging polarities of dualities - the sacred union of the divine feminine and divine masculine energies, coming together through the flowing movements of T’ai Chi Chih. The only way to find real balance without losing the centering feeling of the circle is moving then coming into stillness, so the merging of the divine feminine and masculine come into harmony and union. If one identifies with only one side of the energy the result is being unbalanced.
In order for sacred union to occur—individually and globally—the illusion of separation has to be healed. Through the practice of T’ai Chi Chih, one of the key things that make the dance of sacred union is the love and acceptance of Self. We must have total acceptance of Self in order to surrender deeply and allow full freedom of expression to occur. Through loving and accepting our Self we open the door to ecstatic experience of our Self. This means total acceptance of the body, emotions, every aspect of our-self, and beyond that—acceptance of our divinity.
The foundation of practicing T’ai Chi Chih is balancing the feminine and masculine energy through soft, continuous and circular movement, breath and stillness. One of the key qualities of feminine energy (the yin or black side of the symbol) is receptivity. When we think of receptivity, it seems to imply that we are receiving something from outside of us. However, the feminine quality of receptivity is actually about deeply receiving our self. One of the qualities of masculine energy (the yang or white side of the symbol) is being more assertive or even aggressive. By opening the energy field through the movements of T’ai Chi, and embodying the feminine principle of receptivity, regardless of gender, we can deeply receive our self we experience our own subtle energies flowing through our body. This deep receptive state requires surrender, trust and total self-acceptance.
T’ai Chi Chih creates an inner alchemical container, connecting with the internal qualities of feminine and masculine energy. Two important factors for bringing this experience into the body are Surrender and Presence. Surrender being feminine energy and Presence being masculine energy, the equilibrium between them creates the place of pure potentiality—non-duality, void, a unified quantum field. The state of being truly present brings us into full sensory experience, and surrender prepares us to receive divine impulse. When these essential elements are in union and balance, a portal opens and we can really feel our energy flowing. There is a lightness of being and we feel as if we are being held – like we are receiving energy instead of expending it. We feel connected to our heart and our truth as we are suspended in effortless union.
Our body is the sacred doorway to union with the Divine. Through a union based on purpose and intention, aligned in our hearts, we open ourselves to a higher directive. The feminine principle is our connection to embody spirit in form. Once the temple of the body has been fully reclaimed—through self-acceptance, total surrender and full presence—the Divine Union of the feminine and masculineopens a channel for pure bliss, joy and enlightenment. Experiencing T’ai Chi Chih co-creates this pathway to joy, happiness and enlightenment—a vibrational experience that opens the energy field to divine love, divine light, divine oneness and creation.
4. What are the benefits of T’ai Chi Chih?
Most people who come for T’ai Chi Chih lessons do it for physical reasons, either because of ailments or because they feel it will help them in the areas of energy, hypertension, and so forth. Thus, they think of T’ai Chi practice as a form of therapy, which it undoubtedly is. However, they may later find that they have derived much deeper benefits—spiritual benefits they did not expect.
The practice of T’ai Chi Chih promotes feelings of wellbeing, relaxation, inner peace, and serenity; stimulates creativity and intuition; increases longevity; and has a tonic, balancing effect on physical health. It maintains youth and aliveness, and slows down the aging process through rejuvenation. It clears and sharpens the mind to help in focusing and centering daily activities. Through one’s personal experience one begins to understand the macrocosm of the universe. Some of the specific physical benefits attributed to T’ai Chi Chih include improved breathing, circulation, blood pressure, vision, and flexibility; improvements in chronic ailments (asthma, arthritis, rheumatism, and HIV, for example) and all forms of addictions; strengthened bones; and weight control. T’ai Chi Chih is also a form of meditation (a moving meditation) and as such, can be a path of spiritual growth.
5. What is the difference between T’ai Chi Chih and T’ai Chi Chuan?
T’ai Chi Chih is a fairly recently developed form of movement discipline (since 1974). Justin Stone is the person inspired to develop T’ai Chi Chih. He was and is a T’ai Chi Chuan master who taught many years at universities and around the world and found through his teaching that T’ai Chi Chuan is difficult for most people to learn and for some people almost impossible to do. He realized the tremendous health benefits of T’ai Chi Chuan, but learning 108 movements for most westerners was somewhat challenging. After experimenting with some movements for many years, during a meditation, new movements came through to him and he was inspired to create T’ai Chi Chih, a collection of 19 movements and one (1) pose. These are not ancient forms, but they do use the very old yin/yang principles and a few ideas from T’ai Chi Chuan. The purpose was, and is to provide easily learned movements that afford the individual great benefits, one can learn the whole form in 8 -10 weeks and start feeling the benefits almost immediately; whereas with T’ai Chi Chuan it can take years to learn 108 movements and the benefits come much more slowly.