Your Natural Strength: Stress Management
Stress is affecting the lives of an ever-increasing number of people. We carry tension with us in our nervous systems and lock it into the cellular memories of our muscles. This strain is the greatest single cause of the headaches, muscle pains, illnesses and medical traumas that people suffer day after day.
In Chinese medicine, health depends on the smooth flow of Chi. Anything which blocks the flow of our energy leads to pain, deterioration and disease. The most common causes of blocked energy are mental and emotional tension.
Daily training gives you a high degree of physical and mental stamina. You learn to hold the stationary positions even when your nervous system is rebelling at the lack of movement. You quietly persist despite bouts of impatience, irritation, boredom, panic, fear and anxiety. You develop the physical endurance to hold positions that are often uncomfortable and can be painful, even disorienting. You learn to release the tension through powerful relaxation rather than increase it by fighting back.
Your nervous system develops a new strength. Not the rigid strength of unyielding determination, but the deeper power of inner resilience. You notice a spontaneous equilibrium that persists in the face of difficulties, intense emotions, disturbing environments and discomfort. The advanced levels of Da Cheng Chuan training, which include the martial aspect of this art, further strengthen the field of your psychic energy, increase your endurance and develop fearlessness.
You can use your training to counteract the effects of stressful situations. When you feel stressed, sit up or stand for a few minutes, gently straightening your spine. Let your center of gravity sink downwards. Relax your shoulders. If you are sitting in a meeting, imperceptibly rest your hands a fraction of an inch above your thighs, thus doing a little secret, impromptu Zhan Zhuang practice. If you work at a computer, take a break on the spot: sit up, eyes slightly downwards, hands resting just above your desk.
In difficult encounters with people or in pressured environments, adopt a stable, correctly aligned posture. Use your mind to practice inner relaxation, releasing tension in your shoulders, back and belly. Visualize your body as being like a large tree, mountain or pyramid, with a firm, heavy base - enduringly unshaken through all conditions. The winds of impatience, anger or fear blow across you like passing storms. The power of your inner work will not only protect you in the midst of stress, it will also subtly generate positive energy that changes
YOUR NATURAL STRENGTH: STRESS MANAGEMENT
the atmosphere around you. The calming Dower of Zhan Zhuang seems to radiate even from the photograph above, which shows my own master, Professor Yu Yong Nian, practicing while on a visit to an English woodland.
.When you feel the need to calm down, ' recharge your batteries or deal with intense emotions, practice Sealing your
Energy (page 15) with your hands folded over your belly. Your training subtly transforms your spirit, giving you the inner strength to preserve your vital energy even amidst chaos and conflict.
It is helpful to recall the ancient origins of this art and the extraordinary beings who inspired it. In the words of the great Chinese sage Lao Tse:
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