Tai chi steady improves the attention and awareness that we bring to different aspects of our life.  This same awareness can act as an early warning system for disease and illness if you are attuned to the signs.  In this essay I will share insights gathered at a seminar with Master Chen Bin.  It led me to conduct a 6-month experiment on my health.  I will share those results in next month’s post.

Three ways to evaluate the health of another person are:

1) Length of Breath

Using Tai Chi to Avoid IllnessThe length of one’s breath determines a lot.  During a full and deep breath, enough oxygen is taken in to reach all of the extremities.  The intercostales rotate the ribs pulling your entire upper body into better posture.  The diaphragm expands down to compress and massage the organs.  This has positive effects on digestion.    Shallow breathing is the breathing normally saved for protective postures and only guarantees that the central body is replete with oxygen, circulation, and warmth.

2) Tone of voice

A deep, resonant voice is connected with the breath but it also is an auditory warning  system of sorts.

Using Tai Chi to Avoid IllnessHow is our voice when we are stressed?  In general, I don’t think we freely admit that we are stressed until it is really bad:  “I’m not stressed!! Da*^ it!!”  By listening to our voice we get an indicator of our true state.

How do we sound when we are tired?  Voice is literally powered by the lungs.  Capacity and force create volume.  When we are fatigued it is hard to sound like Chef from South Park

Our voice lets us know if we are internally hydrated.   When we run out of water, our vocal folds let us know with parched airy breath.

3) Greetings

Chen Bin went on to add that a person’s energy is most evident when they are meeting or greeting someone.  When are we at our very best?  When we are introduced to someone new.  We perk up, paint on an ingratiating smile, make eye contact,  articulate clearly and deeply, and offer a firm hand-shake or hug.  So in this situation, with our very bestest bestest intentions, have you ever met someone who was raspy, struggled to raise their mouth from a frown, and gave the limpest and clammiest of handshakes?  A greeting should be the best representation of our energy.  If we are not able to rise to the occasion or it is a struggle, it is a sign that our energy is on the way out or low.

Judging YOUR OWN Energy Level

I undertook a 6-month study of my health to find out how healthy I was and if it could be improved.  While I was generally healthy, I was still susceptible to allergies, exhaustion at times, and even other people who were sick. What Chen Bin introduced at this seminar was mind-blowing to me.  As I started to notice when my voice was not robust and resonant, when my interactions took energy from me rather than giving me energy, I realized that fatigue or illness were around the corner.  Greetings and voice are now daily sign posts telling me to sleep in, drink more water, eat more or improve my nutrition, or nap.  These minor re-calibrations mean that the major illnesses are kept at bay.

 Judging SOMEONE ELSE‘s Energy Level

It goes without saying that I am attuned to the moods of others.  It allows me to be more compassionate than reactive when a coworker is combative and I know who to avoid if needed.  When deciding what my family is going to do on the weekend.  Recently the answer has happily been NOTHING! more often which before wasn’t a conceivable option.

Related Reading

Boost Your Immune System Naturally with Tai Chi | Prevention

Tai Chi: Health and Disease Prevention

The health benefits of tai chi – Harvard Health