Tai Chi (pronounced Tie Chee) is an ancient Chinese martial art that combines slow, focused body movements, meditation and deep breathing. The relaxed and deliberate movements of Tai Chi help develop balance, coordination and flexibility. Tai Chi is often referred to as “Meditation in Motion.”
Its name is derived from the philosophical term, “Tai Chi,” the first known written reference of which appeared in the Book of Changes over 3000 years ago during the Zhou Dynasty (1100-1221 BC). In this book it says that “in all changes exists Tai Chi, which causes the two opposites in everything.” Tai Chi means the ultimate of ultimate, often used to describe the vastness of the universe.
During a Tai Chi session, one moves slowly from one position to the next without stopping so that your body is in constant motion during the session. Because one must focus on breathing and the movements, tai chi helps focus one’s mind in a form of meditation.
The essential principles of Tai Chi are based on the ancient Chinese philosophy of Taoism, which stresses the natural balance in all things and the need for living in spiritual and physical accord with the patterns of nature. According to this philosophy, everything is composed of two opposite, but entirely complementary, elements of yin and yang, working in a relationship which is in perpetual balance. Tai Chi consists of exercises equally balanced between yin and yang, which is why it is so remarkably effective.
Tai Chi as a Complementary Therapy
Tai Chi does not treat the cancer itself, but works on the inside of the body and helps give order to feelings of confusion and turmoil.
Through Tai Chi, children with cancer can begin to understand their needs and emotions and to anticipate a feeling that is building in them, and it becomes easier for them to find self-control. The gentle exercises will also help them to stay fit or regain their fitness after a long hospital stay.
Tai Chi is especially beneficial for children with brain cancer who suffer from behavioural problems due to what is happening to their brain.
Pretending to be an animal moving peacefully in nature takes them away from the noisy, hectic pace of daily life and calms them down.
Tai Chi has also been successfully used with autistic children: by simplifying the moves for them, instructors have noticed remarkable changes in behaviour, ability to relate to others and self-confidence.
What is great about Tai Chi is that it is an exercise in which the whole family can take part and which will benefit all:
- Tapping on our bodies is a great morning activity for just 5 minutes. The whole family can wake up their energy and get ready for the day;
- A quick 10-minute Tai Chi session in the middle of the day can refresh one or just bring one back down is angry, fearful or anxious;
- Tai Chi can be a beautiful family activity before bed; the whole family can be sleeping lions.
A few minutes of Tai Chi before a test or before any hospital visit or treatment can do wonders to calm a child (and the parent/caregiver too) and make them focused and cooperative:
As you breathe and visualise, your shoulders and stomach relax; that tight feeling in the abdomen goes away; the blood begins to circulate more freely; you become rooted and centred, and your mind becomes focused on the task ahead.
Lorenzo Cohen, Ph.D., says he often recommends tai chi to patients because of its overall health benefits.
“In terms of the evidence that’s out there and the scientific literature, practices such as tai chi have been found to help improve patients’ quality of life,” Cohen says. “There are some studies showing that these types of mind-body practices can also have an impact on physiological functioning, improving aspects of immune function and decreasing stress hormones.”
World Tai Chi Day
World Tai Chi & Qigong Day founders, Bill and Angela Wong Douglas, have been pioneers in integrating Tai Chi and Qigong into modern healthcare.
The Last Saturday of April each year in 100s of cities, spanning 80 nations, people come
together, to breathe together, providing a healing vision for our world.
Many hospitals, health networks, and government health ministries have partnered with local Tai Chi and Qigong teachers and schools to promote World Tai Chi & Qigong Day events in their locales.
Spread the word! WTCQD is April 30, 2016. Click to see videos of past global events
Read more about how is Tai Chi is administered, Tai Chi Styles, Possible Side-effects and Risks etc., on our static Complementary & Alternative Therapies page, Tai Chi
Please note that the Little Fighters Cancer Trust shares information regarding various types of cancer treatments on this blog merely for informational use. LFCT does not endorse or promote any specific cancer treatments – we believe that the public should be informed but that the option is theirs to take as to what treatments are to be used.
Always consult your medical practitioner prior to taking any other medication, natural or otherwise.