Recently, I was asked by Florence Waters of The Telegraph to comment on tai chi as an antidote to stress germane to living in a digital age. When I explain to people that I healed my body from a serious motorcycle accident with nei gong and meditation alone, it often conjures notions of disbelief. However, I’m just one of millions of people throughout the ages who has not only found a path to healing, but also sustained and even amplified that healthy state of being throughout their lifetime from dedicated Tao arts training.
My accident left with me with numerous injuries, including a partially herniated left psoas muscle, tears in my diaphragm and adductor insertions in my left knee, dislocation of my right iliac-sacral joint from overstretched ligaments, destabilised lower spine (lumbar), as well as a plethora of minor scrapes and deep bruising down to the bone. Miraculously, I did not sustain any broken bones and although everything in me hurt, I was told many times that I was lucky to be alive. Of course, I suppose real luck would have been not getting hit in the first place! Within a few weeks, I found that the medical system couldn’t help me move past the daily physical pain I was experiencing and set me on a firm path to healing. Soon after, I took up Yang style tai chi for the first time.
Initially, my practice helped a lot as what I perceived then as a “soft-ish way to stretch” was much more gentle than anything else I knew to try, and it seemed to open my body somewhat. However, I had started to develop a limp, and the Yang form just could not go deep enough to release the bound tissues. About this time, I had the good fortune to meet my teacher Bruce. Although nei gong practices were able to penetrate much deeper than the Yang style tai chi had, they aggravated my bound and stuck soft tissues, intensifying the pain. Still I was resolved to free myself from the suffering and heal the underlying injuries.
More time went by and the opportunity arose for me to live with my teacher for 15 months in California. I jumped at the chance. During this time, he taught me many simple nei gong exercises, which enabled me deeper and deeper access to my body. I would systematically learn an exercise, stabilise it, then use it to release bound tissue and qi-energy until he felt I was ready for the next piece. Exercises included ever-more finite alignments, weight shifts, kwa exercises, some Taoist yoga, sitting qi gong and of course Tao meditation. Together, each piece worked with others to root out layers of condensed and stuck soft tissue, and qi.
In time, I stabilised enough to practise Wu style tai chi and bagua daily, where the game shifted completely. Each micro-exercise had to be built up with care and proper due diligence, or I would experience too much pain to continue or cause setbacks to the healing of my knee and lower spine. I played this razor’s edge for about a year until finally the pain-free existence I had known before my accident returned once again.
The Tao arts are truly a gift from China. Although some people do report experiencing immediate results, more typical is that a little bit of sustained effort is necessary to create lasting positive changes in body, mind and qi-energy. To get a quick overview of how nei gong works, see my article The Three Levels of Qi Energy Training.
Read The Telegraph article – Tai chi is the perfect antidote to a digital age