webYears ago when I used to be an avid reader I came across a collection of short stories by
the well known author John Wyndham (Day of the Triffids et al). One particular story, the
name of which I have long forgotten, was about a group of futuristic humanoids who had
traveled to Earth in their unbridled anti-gravity spaceships. Upon seeing our seemingly
prehistoric locomotive machines and the burning of fossil fuels as our chief source of
power they scoffed at our ignorance of natural resources. Instead of fighting gravity to
move, they suggested, wouldn’t it make much more sense to harness the power of this
limitless and constant force? At the time of reading I had just started my training in Tai Chi
and the story resonated with me because I was fascinated by the way Tai Chi was
teaching me how to make gravity my friend using it to achieve a kind of effortless
movement and strength that I hadn’t been aware of in all of my previous training.
In the same way that a fish probably doesn’t notice the water that constantly supports it,
very few of us are aware of the reliable and reassuring force of gravity around which the
human body structure organises itself. Not only does harnessing this force create
immense stability and balance but it is also responsible for creating natural effortless movement, lift, nimbleness and expansion in the body. Such an obvious natural phenomenon is usually ignored by most and unfortunately impeded by the strange ways that people think that they should use their bodies and more specifically how they should look.
For me, learning how to move well is the most important and beneficial first (and ongoing
step) in human physical education. It requires that we restore the tremendous amount of
natural awareness we all seem to lose as we get older and firmly cement the body and
mind as one unit. On the other hand, what is prehistoric to me is that many people
specifically use their bodies in a way that burns as many calories as possible. This is
usually called ‘exercise’. This gross waste of energy is synonymous with health and fitness
in ‘The West’ whereas the majority of the population in the rest of the world barely have enough calories to live comfortably on a daily basis. It makes you think doesn’t it?
Join us for our new Summer term of Tai Chi and Qigong courses from the week beginning
4th July.You will learn much more than you think! All the details are on the website:
This entry was posted in Anatomy Trains, Balance, biotensegrity, mindfulness, movement, Tai Chi, taijiquan. Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to Gravity…

  1. Nicely put, and good point about the calorie-burning Western ‘exercise’, although last time I was in China, I noticed that the Chinese were also becoming very keen on it.
    If I’ve remembered the Wyndham story correctly, I think that it didn’t end well for the ‘invaders’.

  2. Andy Jukes says:

    Interesting stuff. After punishing my body with years of “exercise” and desperately fighting gravity, discovering tai chi has made me totally re-evaluate what being fit actually means. What really constitutes a healthy lifestyle. For some reason we have come to regard athletes as the supreme model of what is fit and healthy. Actually, they are specialists pushing their bodies to specific extremes to achieve specific goals, often with disastrous long term results on their bodies. If our desire is to be healthy and fit to enjoy life, we need to find other models. Thanks for being a better role model.

  3. Hal Nicholas says:

    Excellent points! Indeed, we need to think more about what really constitutes ‘fitness’, and you’re right, taking athletes as models doesn’t necessarily makes sense. They often end up with long-term dependence on pain medication and other drugs. Anyway, if you bend low and do it slow, the ‘slow burn’ of taiji can be quite impressive!

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