Tai chi meditation is a type of Chinese meditation practice said to encourage good health by stimulating the flow of chi, or life energy, in the body. Tai chi moves aren't intended to be strenuous. Practitioners generally perform deliberate, controlled movements while keeping their feet solidly in place. Many of the positions and movements used in tai chi meditation may have once been a part of martial arts training. Tai chi practitioners use these movements to fall into a deep state of meditation said to be greatly beneficial to good health.
Tai chi is a type of physical exercise, but it generally focuses on helping practitioners achieve a meditative state of mind. Tai chi meditation can help practitioners learn to feel physically and psychologically grounded. Tai chi practitioners often attest to increased feelings of well-being and mental clarity, as well as reduced feelings of stress.
There are several styles of tai chi, mostly named after their founding instructors. Chen Style, Wu Style, Sun Style and Yang Style are some of the most popular styles of modern tai chi meditation. Techniques vary with each style, but practitioners are usually encouraged to focus attention on the breath and the physical movements performed during the practice. Students of tai chi are generally asked to visualize the flow of chi, or life energy, moving through the body during the practice. Tai chi meditation is said to help individuals learn to control the flow of chi throughout their bodies.
Beginning tai chi students often find that the most difficult part of the practice is learning to clear the mind. Achieving a meditative state is widely considered central to the practice of tai chi. A basic standing meditation position, known as wu ji, can help beginning practitioners learn to clear the mind and achieve a state of meditation. Most tai chi instructors recommend practicing wu ji exclusively until students can learn to focus on the breath and clear the mind of distractions. Tai chi's more advanced postures are generally based on repetitive movement, allowing practitioners to focus on inner sensations while performing the simple movements in a slow, deliberate and controlled fashion.
Consistent practitioners of tai chi meditation may find that it offers health benefits. Many practitioners may enjoy the stress relief tai chi can offer. Others may find that tai chi can help improve balance and flexibility while building muscle strength. Tai chi may also help to relieve chronic pain and insomnia while increasing energy levels. Tai chi meditation may even have cardiovascular benefits, such as helping to lower blood pressure.