Depression is a major health hazard affecting many people’s lives in the world. In the United States, one in every five people, or about 54 million Americans, experience some type of mental disorder each year. Some can control depression with medication and others may continue to have a poor quality of life, even with medication. Most research focuses on medication as a remedy. Tai Chi is a natural energy workout that can help to relieve and heal depression.
About 8 years ago, I had a patient named Jane, who suffered from PTSD which was diagnosed by her doctor. She was about 48 years old, married and had two children.
Her symptoms were more than just emotional. She had pain all over her body, insomnia, anxiety, depression, fear, low energy level, headache, weight gain, often had nightmares, and no interest in the things she used to like. Her symptoms were definitely affecting her relationships and work.
Working with her was a challenge in the beginning. Her symptoms improved slower than what I expected. Looking at her sad face, I felt I needed to help her, and I knew I could help her.
So I decided to change my strategy. I asked her to join my weekly Tai Chi class. In the beginning of her learning Tai Chi, she was self-conscious, and had a high level of tension in her body.
I reminded her possibly more than 100 times, “relax your back”, “relax your shoulders”, “let go of the tension”, “breathe”, “relax your arms and wrists”… I felt like this was good practice for me at being a patient teacher. I kept telling myself: “it is my job, and I will do the best I can to help her to improve her health.”
Several months passed: I noticed her tension was reduced. She had become more relaxed and calmer. I also noticed that she had more smiles on her face, more joy in her spirit.
I continued working with her through consultation, hands on healing sessions, and teaching her in my Tai Chi class. During consultation I introduced her to Daoist philosophy, and I gave her some homework that she could do at home by herself.
Observing Jane for 6 to 8 months, I noticed that each month she was improving, going out more, doing the things she used to like and overall becoming more positive.
And the nightmares had stopped. Her headaches went away, and her energy was also improved. She felt her life had started over, like a new person. With the improvement of her health, her relationships improved.
In Tai Chi, one of the most important factors is to create the smooth flow of energy (Qi). Once your Qi flows smoothly, you become more positive, stronger, and able to face the negatives with ease. You eventually are able to shift your energy from negative to positive. That is why the real Chinese Tai Chi masters are less likely affected by negativity. They are optimistic, kind, generous, and easy going. My mentor, grand master Feng Zhi Qiang, is a very easygoing man. When I am with him, I feel very relaxed. He is very kind to me, as he is to other people. Tai Chi has two ways of practice, the martial way and the harmonious way. The martial way focuses on techniques and applications to improve fighting ability. The harmonious way focuses on the smooth energy flow in the body to bring inner peace and improve quality of life. It is people’s choice to practice either way. You can practice one way or both ways. Other benefits of practicing Tai Chi are: improve digestion and metabolism, improve sexual functioning; increase blood circulation and cardiovascular fitness; increase youthfulness and longevity.
In my book “True Brain Fitness” I explain more in detail how our nervous system and overall mental health can benefit from Tai Chi practices.