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How tai chi can shift your mood

During these times of unnerving pace, chaos, anxiety and depression, we need to release ourselves if we are to remain centred.

Why is this important? So we can begin to expand our awareness and realise that we don't have to allow ourselves to be hijacked by our moods, others moods, the organisations moods, the worlds moods. We do have the capability to choose our emotional state; one that serves us and the world, in the moment ...

One practice that I have made part of my life for the last 20 years is tai chi. After just the first 5 minutes I feel more centred, connected to my body and breath. And when I practice it first thing in the morning, my day becomes filled with a deep peace that most of the time cannot be shaken.

I have done yoga and meditation, and these just don't come close to the ongoing benefits that tai chi has offered me. So if you're keen to get a taste of what I'm on about here, try the following very simple gentle exercise:

A. Stand with heels together, toes at a 45-degree angle, knees slightly bent with spine upright. Bring your hands together in front of your body, just below the navel, palms up with right hand cupped in left.

B. Now empty your lungs thoroughly and commence a long slow inhalation through flared nostrils. As you inhale, slowly raise your hands out to the sides, palms up, and inscribe as wide a circle as possible as you raise them up above your head. Feel yourself touching the edges of your torus field, whilst pulling in energy from the atmosphere through your upward facing palms.

C. At the same time, slowly straighten up your knees, so that the knees are straight, hands raised above and lungs full at approximately the same time. Tuck your chin in a bit to keep your neck as stretched as possible at the back, despite raising the arms, and tighten up your stomach and anus to compress the air held within your body. Swallow audibly.

D. Relax and commence a slow, controlled exhalation through the nose, at the same time bring the hands, palms down, slowly down in a straight line past face, throat, heart, solar plexus, navel and back down to the starting position, while at the same time slowly bending the knees back into a semi-squat.

E. Empty lungs with a final abdominal contraction and pause to allow the abdominal wall to relax, then turn palms upward again, cup them and commence another inhalation (you may take a resting breath between sets if you wish to relax your breathing). Stay natural, round and soft. That means breathing should be as natural as possible, not forced and that joints should not be locked. Muscles should be kept as loose as possible when relaxed, and arms must inscribe as round and wide an arc as possible.

- The great tai chi circle breath by Daniel Reid

Done first thing in the morning barefoot in nature will yield the best results.

Try to experience this as a standing meditation, so that repetition becomes calming and safe, and a process of inner discovery.

As within, so without.

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