I once believed that the way to deal with mental stress is to expose the body to at least the same level of stress that the mind is experiencing. In a perverse way, this was my idea of achieving balance. Working in a stressful environment therefore meant I actually subjected my body to a pretty hard regime of exercises and physically demanding sporting pursuits. But this practice is more like burning the candle at both ends and it does not take too long before one burn out metaphorically and physically.
On the advice of wiser friends I turned to traditional meditation. I tried hard to empty my mind of thoughts and experience the present by focusing on my breathing, all the time sitting cross legged while keeping my back straight. To truly appreciate the difficulty I encountered in this endeavour, you must first understand that I chose a stressful job because I actually enjoy the adrenalin rush it gives me; 36 years in my industry and I still look forward to going to work every morning. Someone with my personality traits is definitely going to have a problem sitting still, focusing on my breathing while the mind tries to think of nothing.
I now practice Tai Chi and if you have the same issues as I do in trying to tame the mind, Tai Chi may also be the solution for you. Tai Chi is a form of Meditation while in motion. Once the basic moves and sequence of movements are committed to memory, the mind is freed up to just focus on the actual execution of each move. Because the moves are executed in slow motion, the mind is at ease and one can actually feel the body reacting to each move – the tingling of the finger tips with each weightless wave of the hand, the warmth of the palm with each pushing motion and the stretching of each muscle as they accommodate each shift of the body weight. Finally I was experiencing the present, my mind is calm and there is no distracting thoughts; exactly what meditation is supposed to help us achieve. Nowadays, at the office when I need a moment to put things back into perspective, I close my eyes and I visualize practicing a set of Tai Chi; my breathing regularize and my mind calms down.
So give it a try. If it does not work for you, there is always the next Marathon des Sables to train for.
We offer Tai Chi and Wushu classes in Petaling Jaya and Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Contact us at 012-2211430 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org for more details.