In a recent Tai Chi class we were discussing how we can get wrapped up in thought, and lose track of what we’re doing. One thought turns to another, and another. Before we know it we lose our place in the health form, and we feel like we are lost in that moment.
We even touched on what is called “autopilot” driving. That is when we arrive at some destination, and we don’t remember actually driving there. It feels like we are no longer in each moment of our lives, as if they are passing by before we can be there. Sometimes we let our thoughts control us to a point where we are more wrapped in them, than in what is happening in the world around us.
I suggested that we work on what I call ‘grounding’ while practicing the health set. As we practice the Tai Chi, we focus on something like how our shoulders feel. We just notice them. We do not think about how the shoulders feel, but just to give our attention to the feeling of our shoulders. No matter what they feel like, we do not judge what we feel, or try and change what is there. That is just another thought, which will take us down a road of more thoughts.
We are using this grounding exercise to quiet our minds. Whether our shoulders (or any other point of focus) feel like they are at a point of stressed induced tension, or loose and relaxed, we just tune into that feeling.
This does two things. One, it will help us relax. It will cause the area of our attention to loosen up, and ease up whatever it’s doing. It will also help that area of our bodies return to its natural state of alignment. It will straighten our posture; our shoulders will drop and fall back to their nature point. It’s amazing what mindful attention will do!
The second thing this ‘grounding’ will accomplish is that it takes our minds and firmly plants it in our bodies. Not only are we focused, and at peace with what we’re feeling, we tend to think less. Especially about thoughts that have no relevance to what we’re doing… Practicing Tai Chi, or Kung Fu, or just working out in general.
This can be practiced while walking, sitting, reading, writing. This can be done while talking with friends, working out in any way, shape or form, or even just sitting on a couch watching TV. This can be literally done anywhere, or at anytime.
Our thoughts can take control of us at times, especially when we’re stressed or anxious. This practice helps us let go of unnecessary thoughts so we are able to focus only on how we feel at the moment. This allows us to feel at ease in our own skin and to quiet our minds.
What other tools do you use to cope with stress and anxiety?
Shifu Daniel Cimino