Using Tai Chi to Relieve Stress
– interviewed by Instructor Lis
Stress management has always been an issue for Brad. As far back as his teenage years, he sought ways of dealing with it. He looked to different meditation techniques for solutions and tried to find a Tai Chi class he could join. He has also had a longterm interest in martial arts. When he discovered the Academy’s classes in 1995, he was learning karate and thought the two would complement each other.
He attended his first Tai Chi class in Term 4, 1995. In the early days, his work as a geologist took him away into the bush, sometimes for months. However, he always kept up his practice and always resumed classes on his return to Canberra. At the time of joining, he had constant stress-related health issues — mostly fatigue and general anxiety — so the Qigong training was the aspect he was, and still is, most interested in.
“I’ve done Brett’s Hun Yuan Qigong course twice, Fei Wang’s Taoist Qigong course three times and Lama Choedak’s Calm Abiding Meditation Course twice. They’ve all helped a lot. I’m much more relaxed, flexible, fitter and healthier now than I was in my twenties.
I stopped karate a long time ago, but I also tried the Academy’s Martial Arts classes. It’s hard training and I don’t like the contact element of that type of training as I grow older. I like the Push Hands, but you need someone to practise with.”
Brad practises his Tai Chi every morning. Even though he knows his shoulders are still tense and he needs to relax, even more, he feels the training has strengthened the ligaments and tendons in his joints.
“When I take my huskies – sledge dogs – running, sometimes I’ll bend my ankle on the rough terrain. I haven’t had a serious injury, just a bruise or some soreness for a few days. I think otherwise I could have twisted or even broken an ankle on occasion.”
Brad learned the traditional Yang Style when he started with the Academy but was interested to learn the Hun Yuan system when we changed in 2003.
“It was different. I never had trouble with co-ordination in the Yang style, but the Hun Yuan made me use my body differently. At first, it was quite difficult to get the hang of. I was too tense. I find now if I sit a bit lower, it works my legs as much as the other one did and in some ways more so. Because some movements don’t require a weight shift, the muscles of the leg carrying weight can get quite sore if you work at a lower level. The basic principles are still the same across the forms.”
Relaxation is still Brad’s biggest challenge. He knows he’s a tense person prone to stress and is conscious of seeking out ways to relieve his tension. He has found that the calmness and gentleness of his Tai Chi practice help to overcome stress both mentally and physically.
“I enjoy the classes. I’ve been to just about every venue and learned from every instructor, I think. I always come away from the lessons feeling calm and open. Even though I practise every day at home, I do far more of everything in class. I should try to get to more than one class per week.”
(This is an actual interview, but the name has been changed for reasons of privacy.)