Improving My Quality Of Life With Tai Chi
My exploration of alternative medicine came out of struggling for years to manage and find adequate treatment for my anxiety, neurodegenerative and autoimmune conditions. Taking up to 15 medications a day at the age of 25, having a long list of specialists seen every month, and increasing urgent care visits while my level of function declined, mixed with an array of debilitating side effects with little symptom assistance prevailed.
I was following the medical plan and advice prescribed and modeled to me, with me being labeled as medically compliant. But it wasn’t working well for me and my quality of life was decreasing rapidly, with my independence was slipping away. I decided to change paths and embark on a different journey or rather more like a quest. A quest to find out how to better help myself. A quest for improved symptom/disease management. A quest for improved quality of life. A quest to live my best life possible.
This quest continues to lead to amazing discoveries. One of those discoveries includes gaining a greater understanding of the role balance and centering played in my life. At that time I was not centered and was very off-balance both in my mind and body; and it would not be the last time. I was stressed; moody and easily irritable; had poor sleep, skin and focus; was cognitively and physically fatigued, sick a lot, in significant pain, and more flare-ups and symptomatic without relief.
In efforts to find out how to center myself I took to reading and listening to holistic health books and eastern medicine books, went to webinars and classes, questioned holistic practitioners and others in my life, and more. One of the tools I came across that was of interest to me in trying was Tai Chi.
Benefits of Tai Chi
According to the Mayo Clinic, the ancient Chinese tradition of Tai Chi encompasses a series of movements performed in conjunction with deep breathing with movements that are noncompetitive, slow, focused, and gentle that flow from one posture to the next in a constant motion.
There are many different styles and variations of Tai Chi as well as easy adaptations based on one’s present health status/abilities especially with instructional assistance in determining if and/or how an individual can engage in the practice of Tai Chi in a safe manner). Due to my preexisting health conditions I decided to discuss my interest in trying Tai Chi at home with my physical therapist.
Previously, I was skeptical because I didn’t know if I could physically do it safely while standing. So, my physical therapist recommended engaging in seated tai chi and I started looking for guided sessions online to have accessibility. I found a wonderful resource for seated tai chi on YouTube by David-Dorian Ross.
The first time I engaged in seated tai chi in the morning was when I woke up and my wife went to the gym. I found the anxiety and stress I had was released from my body and my mind until lunch time, and a little less physical pain for 15 minutes after. At the time, that was more relief than I had experienced in a long time. While sticking with it I noticed a little bit more difference each time, especially with feeling more balanced and connected within my own body with a deeper intention to make self-care a priority.
I decided to increase my tai chi practice by adding a specific guided tai chi video for back pain. This was like stumbling on gold. The positive impact on my mental and physical health kept growing week after week. Those impacts include decreased pain, increased ability to navigate stress and emotional regulation, deeper breathing, deeper connection to my mind and body, increased spiritual practice with intention, decrease in high blood pressure readings, and fuller range of motion and functional movement.
I am incredibly thankful for discovering tai chi when searching for holistic tools that can help create more balance, and center my mind and body as I improve my health and quality of life. I look forward to continuing on this quest as well as any future tools that will be found and discoveries that will be made.
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