View Full Version : Tai Chi and Stress

10-24-2004, 03:34 PM
Tai Chi and dumping stress

In responding to a post on Tai Chi and, "...unburdening from personal problems," Soraya essentially said that Tai Chi, Qigong, and music can be useful tools. She went on to say that you shouldn't expect too much from these sorts of approaches alone. She suggests talking to some one you trust.

I would like to second this opinion.

On a physical level (from a Western perspective), Tai Chi enhances your physical self-awareness and control of your internal physical state. Anxiety and depression are related to a perception that you can't control your circumstances. If you are breathing too fast, or your heart is beating too fast in response to a stress, the meditative (and perhaps physical training) aspects of Tai Chi will help you slow these down as well as anything I've heard of. The effect is not instant; it is acquired through training, although my personal experience has been that a few weeks is enough to make a difference.

On the cognitive/psychological level, you gain success, skills applicable in a variety of contexts (especially if you study the martial aspect of Tai Chi as well as the health aspect), and thus confidence from Tai Chi training. As Soraya says, don't do too much too soon; you want to work hard enough to feel you have had to reach for success, but not so hard you are unsuccessful and thus demoralized. Physically, some doctors have said they have never seen an athlete who was overtrained who didn't have the signs and symptoms of Depression (sleep disturbance, changes in appetite and weight, fatigue, increased concern about health, decreased libido, and diminished ability to take pleasure from usual activities, to name a few).

When your usual coping skills, supplemented by Tai Chi, are not up to the task, it is time to consult some one like your M.D., a therapist, trained clergy, etc.

Music has an ability to change how you feel for a variety of reasons. One is by association. Listening to music you associate with a happy state is likely to trigger the associated feelings. Have you ever watched a group of adults listen to "Taps" or "Amazing Grace"? You are sure to see some tears from somebody because these pieces of music are often associated with funerals. Second, biologically, you tend to "Match tempo" with the tempo of music you listen to. I have had patients who complained to trouble getting to sleep, but admitted to listening to Hip-Hop dance mixes at bedtime. During one anxious period of my life, I tried to find some music to relax to at 3 A.M. on the radio at work. All I could find was "Heavy Metal", and thirty seconds was enough to make my hair stand on end. Third, and maybe related to the second, research has shown that there is likely some biological response to sound built in to humans. For example, babies seem to be more easily soothed by women's voices than those of men. Other research has shown that people's perception of the pain of dental procedures could be manipulated by the music playing in the office lobby (Rock is worst, "East Listening" best in a sample of Americans).

Enough said for now. How about other peoples' thoughts? Bill

10-24-2004, 04:54 PM
Hi Bill. Found you. Wasn't sure where you put the thread but I got it.

You're right, I should have made a new thread on this subject. Being new at this I wasn't thinking.

Soraya's comments were helpful. The reason I was looking for a CD to help meditate is because I have a hard time getting there on my own. In class, my teacher gives us the right atmosphere for this. At home, I made a CD of music (like you were suggesting) that helps. However, trying to get to the place I want to be is still difficult. I seem to have an easier time when someone is talking me through it. I concentrate on what they are saying as well as the music, and I get there.

So far my Tai Chi class is my best place of dumping things. However, this week it wasn't happening. This stuff is really deep and I know it will take time. It's a recurring problem but it passes. I'm just trying to find ways to deal with it when it overwhelms me.

Thank you for your comments as well.


10-24-2004, 07:04 PM

Psyche is on different level for differnt people and the best thing for me is just to sit in a dark room and do nothing.
Activity tends to make me 'disoriented' when my coping skills are less than so I decrease all sensory input (close eyes, limited movement) and just be (it seems to work!).

It is from this that I understood between various strategies for qigong intervention. e.g. for excess, use static methods, for defieciency use dynamic methods.

10-24-2004, 10:13 PM

You started an excellent thread. I think you are really the expert in this field, along with drlip and eileen, so in the future i will consult you.

Bill gave you good advice. Try to find a good person to be trusted would be a good idea. Some MD's are extremely insensitive but don't be discouraged. Paul Lam would be one of the MD's i woud suggest. A good trained clergy is very often better than any psychologist or MD. I remember a TDutch TV series called"the diary of a sheep dog"(dagboek van een herdershond) which was about a clergy who was extremely down to earth. Helping people with practical things like being detective, legal interventions, medical help, psych-stress etc. He said" Jesus was the shepard, well, then i must be the sheep dog"

I understand now why zhan zhuang helps you so much. I am exactly the opposite, my teacher had to force me into zhan zhuang and darkness, but nw after so many years i felt it helps much

For people with inner stresss, i'm not addressing anybody here: darkness and deep meditation can aggravate, so work with an empathic professional

10-25-2004, 02:19 AM
Was"the diary of a sheepdog" not Belgian?

10-25-2004, 09:58 AM
People vary greatly in their ability to tolerate different approaches to stress; in some cases, therapy can be more stressful than the problem for which it is sought. Especially when dealing with traumatic early experiences, it is important not to prematurely try and deal with something you aren't prepared to deal with, and avoiding the topic for the time may be preferable to risking overwhelming anxiety. As in physical training, too much too soon is counterproductive.

If anxiety is the issue, ultimately the only "cure" is identifying what you fear and exposing yourself to it, either progressively and systematically or by a "flooding" procedure. My real specialty is childhood ***ual abuse. People who have been thus traumatized often misperceive themselves as "damaged" or "unlikable", or as "powerless". By revealing the trauma AS THEY TOLERATE to a therapist (clergy, school counselor, psychologist, social worker, etc.) they discover that they can move forward with life like anyone else. Systematically handling traumatic memories desensitizes people to the anxiety those memories create. As common sense would dictate, if you disclose pain to some one who isn't prepared themselves to comfortably deal with the issue, and they then experience overwhelming anxiety in front of you (perhaps because of their own unprocessed memories of bad experiences), you then learn a wrong and destructive message (for example, "I'm so damaged that when I tell people about it they can't handle it."). That's why it can be a bad idea to tell friends or family first unless you have evidence as to how they will react. This is true of discussing any social stress.

Tai Chi and Qigong in their various incarnations have the great advantage of helping with anxiety without having to expose yourself to the strain of dealing with a divorce, trauma, death or illness of a loved one, past humiliations, or whatever. You also can directly overturn false and depressing or anxiety provoking beliefs like, "I'm not good at anything," "I can't protect myself," or, "I can't handle stressful situations," which are really the underlying destructive factor in traumatic events.

Then to summarize, I agree with Stanton's position that it is best for some people to deal with being overburdened by the means he outlined. Individual needs do vary, although in the LONG RUN only exposure is curative. Bill

10-25-2004, 10:12 AM
i resemble remarks on this thread,being a musician myself,although i'm always a bit wary when people begin to treat music as something exclusively functional such as background noise or meditation aids,"spa music" so called"smooth jazz" or ambiance techno;as if it's value were somehow determined by it's function at the "right" time or place;i do though realize it's value potential to compliment stress reduction techniques and healing in some areas;art of any kind however shouldn't be restrained by labels or boxes.
on the sleep/stress issue i would like to make mention of a recent article in t'ai chi mag which claimes that a cat's repetitive preening can release small amts.of seratonin essential to sleep and suggests that t'ai chi warmups engender the same results.
so...don't forget your warmups!

10-25-2004, 10:59 AM
We all have our own way of dealing with stress. It is always good to get help from someone who understands.

If I have an important interview or meeting at work, I ask my manager if I can find a quite space for 10 or 15 minutes and do a little Tai Chi in, which I find helps. It is something else to focus on.

When I have a problem and need to talk to someone or get help, then 10 or 15 minutes Tai Chi calms me and gives me something else to work on.

I know stress can ruin lives at its most extreme so I am lucky, but tai Chi is an aid to relaxing!

Marc Heyvaert
10-25-2004, 11:15 AM
Originally posted by soraya
Was"the diary of a sheepdog" not Belgian?

The setting was in 'Hollands-Limburg', in the Netherlands, but the main actor, Jo De Meyere is a belgian.

No taichi in the series though :)


10-25-2004, 02:50 PM
I'm glad to see everyone actively participating in this discussion. I'm gettting alot of different views.


I relate to your comments the most. I sit in a dark room as well. Sometimes I light a candle and watch the light flicker. However, I don't like complete silence and that's why I turn to music. Too much queit leaves my mind open to negative thoughts. Music gives me a little distraction or makes me picture calm things like rivers, lakes and mountains (if the music is right). I like nature, so if I can picture it, it has a calming affect. But sometimes I need someone to softly speak and help me visualize these things.

Thanks again to everyone for your comments. :)


10-26-2004, 11:10 AM
I have a couple of nice guided meditations that use natural scenery like sprin woodlands and the beach. They work well.

Yes there is a lot to think about, I am game so will have a try too!

10-26-2004, 04:25 PM

What are the titles of your tapes or cd's? Do you know where I could get them? Sounds like just what I'm looking for.


10-27-2004, 10:46 AM
I will sort them out and give you a list of books and a list of tapes and mail you privately.

If anyone else would like a list of books and tapes, let me know and I will send them a list too.