Author - Lee Chang Tye
|Relaxed Mind Tai Chi||
Lately I've been watching the popular talent show "X-factor" and invariably see advertisements for other such very popular "reality-type" shows - you understand the type eg - Survivor, The Block, etc, etc. I can't believe how popular they are but obviously mine's a minority opinion. Competitive shows are obviously a successful, well-trodden formula and ever since the Romans gathered in arenas to watch gladiators do battle, or a sports competition, they undoubtedly can be entertaining. However, the popularity of these reality-based competitive shows needs to be looked at with a discerning eye. As the competition in the X-factor progressed, the most common words and theme were: pressure, tension, singing for their lives, last chance, performing under pressure, got what it takes, etc, etc. Unlike good music shows of the past the actual songs sung (no matter how well) are not the focal point of the show but the strictly defined expectations of what makes a great "performance" (ticking all the right boxes) is. The winners we are told can handle the pressure and the losers well they'll be soon gone out of sight out of mind. We also don't have to deal with any casualties of such a system. Not only the pressure but for several weeks - or however long - talented but ordinary people are feted and groomed as "pop stars" and they are supposed to act like them. Although these real life people get lavished with superlative praise from experienced "legendary" celebrities one minute, they are just as likely to be on the end of a ego-crushing axing the next. Then their lifelong dream to be a singing artist basking in fame and glory vanishes! One day fans are cheering for you as if you were the next megastar then the next day you're back out on the street on your own again. Yeah sure they've gotten your 15 minutes of fame and perhaps some lucky ones will be picked up and supported with a show business career but I suspect most end up back in their schools, part-time, or full time jobs. How does a starstruck youngster handle it? Well, we don't know and aren't supposed to know. Show business is cruel, but the show MUST go on! The difference between these reality shows and comedies or sitcoms of the past is that the entertainment value is in watching real people handle or buckle under pressure whereas sitcoms of a past era (at the same TV time slot) aimed to make you laugh or be entertained with music, plot & script. Considering the numbers of these shows on at prime time is this a metaphor for our society? Pressure & stress at work (most likely on the receiving end as the employee) and now it's time for us to enjoy watching others handle (or not handle) stress as others "perform under pressure"? Or maybe it's just being a Tai Chi person we do what we can to reduce stress and see it as the enemy, I'm not sure and perhaps those contestants who fall by the wayside get so much more out of it than it they if they never had entered the show. But I do know that I'd hate to have a boss who constantly expects & pressures his/her employees with the question: "Do you have the X-factor?"
Author - Lee Chang Tye
The Atlantic Magazine April 1st 2014 printed an article written by Brian Steiner outlining the growing body of research that says that meditation can play a significant role in easing chronic pain. It emphasizes how much influence our brains can have over our bodies and the experience of pain. Here are the important points quoted from the article:
"Meditation teaches patients how to react to the pain. People are less inclined to have the 'Ouch' reaction, and are able to control their emotional reaction to pain."
"...meditating reduces pain by reducing stress. When a person is upset and agitated, she explained, their nervous system is aroused. This arousal aggravates pain, which in turn becomes another stressor. By relaxing the sympathetic nerves, stress decreases, thereby decreasing pain."
"The primary somatosensory cortex, anterior insula, anterior cingulate cortex, and prefrontal cortex all experienced altered levels of activation due to meditation."
"Meditation has been shown to alter these four areas of the brain. By decreasing activity in the primary somatosensory cortex, the pain processing area, and increasing activity in the three other regions, pain is reduced."
"For a patient with chronic pain, Loeser explained, meditation gives patients a way to take hold of their life again. Over the months, or even years, of undiagnosed pain, patients feel like they lose control of their life and body, like Sarah Kehoe did. Traditional medications no longer work."
"Pain medications ignore the psychological and social aspects of pain. Meditation, however, can treat pain from every level of Loeser’s model of pain, suffering, and behaviors. It diminishes the anxiety surrounding pain, leaving the patient happier, and more in control."
Tai Chi being a very effective & engrossing form of "moving meditation" hence has a lot to offer.
These are my thoughts about various aspects of Tai Chi. They may or may not be original and I try to give credit where credit is due.
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