Tai Chi: Finding Time for Mindful Activity

Purple color box with quote from Helen Lein: You don't have to practice for an hour. You can practice tai chi for 3 breaths a couple of times each day.

“It’s your attention to your inner self that’s so important. Don’t think of it as an exercise, think of it as an inner practice, even if it may look like an exercise,” Tai Chi, Qigong, and Meditation Instruction Helen Lein explained during an interactive installment of the Be Informed Lecture Series.

Lein has been teaching yoga, Tai Chi and meditation for over 25 years. She delivered a workshop based on Tai Chi and the ancient Chinese practice of qigong.

“It’s based on the concept that everything is made of energy, called chi. Now, in science, they’re finding that everything is made of energy,” Lein explained.

Read a few key takeaways about the practice, below. We will be sharing the entire Tai Chi lesson in the next couple of weeks.

Tai chi is a self-reflective process.

Lein asked participants to look inward and simply observe their breathing and feeling throughout.

“Always observe how you’re feeling inwardly without any thought of ‘it should be like this or it should be like that.’ Only notice how it is.”

She emphasized focus as a key component of the practice and encouraged participants to lean into that focus as a benefit of what they were doing: it’s hard to be distracted by day-to-day things when you’re focused on your body.

“When people engage in these practices, they’re balancing practice. It brings you back to center and it brings you back to balance, and it brings you back to your natural state—whatever that might be.”

Breathing is important—and easy to impair.

Carrying tension can impair deep breathing. It’s important to actively release muscles to accommodate deeper breaths.

“When we become tense, we hold our breath and we have no room to take in any more.
Be aware of your muscles, relax as you exhale.”

When it comes to practicing Tai Chi, regularity is more important than duration.

“If you can find time during your day to practice these little things, you don’t have to practice for an hour. You can practice for three breaths.”

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