What’s That – My Laptop Just Did Tai Chi!
By Howard Gibbon, founder of the East-West Taoist Association
As I sat there watching my laptop work away, I was blown away by the similarity between what I was witnessing and the experiences of a seasoned Tai Chi practitioner…
I recently upgraded my internet connection to a wireless one. Something I have wanted to do for a couple of years now. But whenever I researched by asking friends and techie types in computer stores, I always received conflicting views on how stable a wireless as against a wired connection was.
The wired connection was fine apart from three points, 1. My artist wife Gisela could not use the netbook in her studio, 2. I quite fancied using my laptop in the garden. 3. We had a wire trailing across the top of the stairs to my office computer which is in a spare bedroom. Neither of these was convenient and in the case of the wire at the top of the stairs downright dodgy safety wise.
Then along came a well respected friend of the techie brigade and he assured me he thought we would be fine. In fact he had recently moved house and changed his ISP for his broadband connection who had kindly given him another router. This is the hardware that connects to the phone line and the other computers without needing wires. He offered to set it up for us using his old spare router and if we were not happy with it we could simply revert back to our wired system.
A free trial and easy to revert back to old system meaning no risk, I had no problem with that. So along he came a few days later and said it would take probably half an hour – Yeh right! We are dealing with computers here – So one and half hours later and a telephone call to my ISP for technical assistance, which I must say were excellent, we got connected. They supplied information we needed that we would never have discovered ourselves. Here is a very important point about learning the depth of Tai Chi or any other field of study, requiring sustained effort over time. But that should be the topic of another article as I am in danger of running off the subject of this one.
Over the next day or so all seemed fine and so I grew in confidence using this new technology. Gisela took her notebook into her studio whilst working away on her mosaics and listening to YouTube.
A short time later we had a fine day and I took my laptop into the garden to do some work on our monthly newsletter whilst getting some welcome sun on my face.
Then it hit me my laptop has just done Tai Chi.
You see, I needed a file from my other computer in my upstairs office, and here I was now downloading a file onto my laptop from my computer upstairs in the house. No Wires, no obvious link between the two computers, and Bob’s your uncle, there was the file. No trekking upstairs and sifting though this computer’s files then transferring it to a pen stick (a small storage device making it easy to transfer from one computer to another).
The very thing that separates Tai Chi from most other forms of exercise is the way it works on and builds up the energy system of the body. Students new to Tai Chi are usually concerned with improving their physical health and enjoying the relaxing feeling Tai Chi practise brings. Through the regular practise of Tai chi and its sister arts of Kai Men and Dao Yin the benefits to your health are many and long lasting.
But if they are still around in a few years time
Students usually become fascinated by the energy side of Tai Chi. Now before you think I am one of those aerie fairy types who are off their rocker on cloud nine. Let me point out that science now states that everything is energy. It is just that those solid objects vibrate at a different level to us and other things. Everything all around us inside and out is energy vibrating at different frequencies. Just because we can not see that does not mean it is not real.
If you care to read a book about the fascinating things that scientists are working on at the moment, “The Dancing Wu Li Masters: An Overview of the New Physics” by Gary Zukav is one amazing book. Check out the YouTube link at the bottom of this article where Gary talks about the book. There are many others to choose from “The Tao of Physics: An Exploration of the Parallels between Modern Physics and Eastern Mysticism” by physicist Fritjof Capra is another I found informative and thought provoking.
Al Chung-Liang Huang a Tai Chi Master
Among contributors to the “The Dancing Wu Li Masters” is Al Chung-Liang Huang a Tai Chi Master. For me this book’s technical explanations were not always easy reading, but in most areas things are explained in language that is easily understandable and totally fascinating. I drove my poor students mad for months afterwards as I linked things from the book to my lessons in Tai Chi, the comparisons were amazing. After 37 years studying and teaching Tai Chi, to me the principles appear in almost everything I learn about everything else. And how could it be not so. Tai Chi is based on the natural laws of the universe and everything in the universe must adhere to these principles also.
When we think – We activate our energy – Energy moves the body
So when we practise Tai Chi, we must first calm the mind, bring it under control and direct it to our purpose. If you haven’t got a purpose for learning Tai Chi, it is doubtful you will continue for long. The mind untrained is like an unruly child. Undisciplined it will run into trouble sooner rather than later. Controlling the mind is one of Tai Chi’s necessary traits and also attributes. So if you haven’t got a purpose for your practise, bringing your mind more under your control may well be a good one for you.
Although your initial purpose does not have to be so lofty an ideal to start with, just wanting to relax more or get out of the house and meet other people is enough to keep you going at the start.
Getting back to the computer when you want to use it to accomplish a task you open the required program and start the work. But first you had a thought, a purpose, something you wanted to achieve. Once you have that you can find the tools i.e. program in this case to start the work. A computer will not work unless it has energy (electricity). Then driven by your purpose, you can produce an email, edit a photo, create a drawing, write an article and send that out into the world to whoever you choose to. Or print out a hard copy and send it to whoever you choose to.
Our brain is rather like a computer, it has a memory section (hard drive). The ability to analyse data with its processor assisted by its loaded programs, not unlike our power of reason that allows us to analyse information which we pass through our past experiences to come to a conclusion of the way forward.
Our brain then gives out instructions and our energy mobilises to give fuel to our muscles and thought processes so we can carry out the task at hand. Without energy none of this is possible.
However, most of us never give this subject any thought, like our breathing we take it for granted, we assume it is an automatic function of our existence, and it is. But if for some reason we struggle to breathe or suffer a lack of energy. We soon realise that a lack of either is very restrictive indeed.
So it would seem to me to be a good idea to learn a little about our energy systems. Not because we are in short supply now but to ensure that if in the future should we become deficient we will always have a way of ensuring we can build up adequate reserves again.
My teacher Master Chee Soo used to say when you are born you have a bucket full of chi when you use it up you die, so don’t waste it.
When we are young we think we are indestructible and often flitter away our energy in unhealthy practises and behaviour. As we get older and develop we learn to conserve our energy and to the extent we do this we keep our health into old age.
Tai Chi teaches us to relax and conserve our energy and also how to replenish it, prolonging its life and keeping the quality of our chi good. Like the computer needs electricity to function, we need our chi. The quality and quantity should be of great concern to us. Healthy exercise such as Tai Chi along with breathing exercises and good quality healthy food can make a vast difference to the quality of life we experience.
There are many forms of exercise available today but not many that have been around for as long as Tai Chi. Tai Chi survives because is it as perennial as the earth under our feet. Based on nature itself, a tool for self-development and in my opinion Tai Chi is the best health exercise system there is, bar none.
You can find a copy of Howard’s free beginners Tai Chi book in our Tai Chi Ebooks section.
About the Author
Howard Gibbon was born in Hull in 1946 and began training under Chee Soo in 1973. He has been an instructor of both Tai Chi Chuan and Feng Shou Kung Fu since 1976. He lives with his wife and mosaic artist Gisela in Scarborough, North Yorkshire.
Howard’s early fascination for Tai Chi soon grew into a life-time vocation, realizing that Tai Chi went beyond a purely physical discipline, but Tai Chi was also a tool for self-development, spiritual growth, and a way of helping himself and others to achieve holistic health and well-being. Extremely proficient in the Feng Shou self defence arts, Howard nevertheless felt a special love for the various Tai Chi Forms, K’ai Men and Dao Yin. In fact he is famous for being Chee Soo’s only instructor who practiced the Tai Chi form every morning, with the exception of Christmas Day, for 15 years! (And he is still practising the Tai Chi form, with an odd exception, on a daily basis!
Chee Soo had hundreds, perhaps thousands of Tai Chi students who entered his training halls through the years, but in the end there were only four in the country who stayed long enough to gain the highest Master Grade Chee Soo issued in his life time. One of those students was Howard, respected by his peers as the foremost authority on the Lee Family Tai Chi form. Howard’s and Chee Soo’s friendship was legendary and it is a privilege for those who today train under Howard to be shown an art so ancient, taught as he was taught, undiluted by fads and fashions, imbued with love, enthusiasm, precision and quality.
Chee Soo passed away in 1994. In order to safeguard the continuation of the Arts and their philosophy, Howard founded the East-West Taoist Association in 1999. Howard has a weekly Tai Chi evening class as well as taking regular all-day Tai Chi courses and grading days.