Tai Chi Dynamics

An experiment with Fasting

I just finished reading Tai Chi Dynamics (see below for the review) and in it he included a chapter on Fasting and how to do it properly. I decided to give it a try today and so far it's been interesting to experience. He notes that a person can be a bit more temperamental, which is true. My emotions have been a bit edgier, though he also notes this fades as your body gets more accustomed to the fast. He also mentions that you begin to notice a difference between when you are genuinely hungry and just feeling a desire for food and he's right. There is a definite difference. I have felt a sensation that I'd say is not hunger so much as it's emptiness in my belly. In fact, I think that sometimes I have eaten because I have felt empty and wanted to fill that emptiness up with something and food has been convenient for that. In choosing not to eat, I have been observing my reactions to the feeling of emptiness in my belly and recognizing that I don't necessarily feel hungry (and yes there is a difference in that feeling). In sitting with that feeling and observing it I do notice a difference in awareness in terms of how I'm thinking about hunger and food.

The purpose of fasting is to actually break down the toxins of the body that it holds onto otherwise. I can see why this would be healthy and useful to do and so that's my main reason for trying it today, to feel what it's like to fast and also to help my body break down some toxins it'd otherwise hold onto.

Review of Tai Chi Dynamics by Robert Chuckrow

I found Tai Chi dynamics to be an interesting mixture of martial arts, physics and philosophy. The author clearly and concisely explained how physics could be applied to Tai chi movements and practice as well as providing some very interesting exercises a person could do to demonstrate the principles in action. I also found his chapter on fasting to be very useful as he explained how to properly do it and what needs to be considered in order to do a successful fast. This is definitely a book for intermediate practitioners. If you aren't familiar with Tai Chi, spend some time learning it and then come back to this book.

5 out of 5

Energy work as extension instead of contraction

I've started reading Tai Chi Dynamics by Robert Chuckrow, who is a physics professor and explains Tai chi in terms of physics. It's quite a fascinating book and I'm really intrigued by his explanation of how to work with the muscles of the body, because I think it aptly demonstrates how energy work is approached, in terms of attempting to force it to go somewhere as opposed to flowing with it. With contractive muscular force, a lot more pressure is put on the muscle to perform an action. Weight lifters tend to use their muscles in a contractive way. Obviously this can make them very strong, but it also decreases the flexibility they have. Also muscular contraction can only be done for a short time because of the sharp build up of lactic acid.

With extension applied to the muscles, the muscles are stretched in a way that is natural to them...they are kept relaxed instead of contracted. Muscular extension allows a person to perform longer...the lactic acid doesn't build up as fast.

I tried one of the exercises he includes in the book. You relax an arm that you have extended in front of you as much as possible. You gently squeeze your fingers as if you were holding a ribbon in your hand. You then replicate this motion in the muscles in your arm. It's a very subtle movement, and different from how I normally move my arm. There's not as much effort involved, and at the same time it does seem that the chi or internal energy is freed up...it flows more. I will continue working with this to see what I can do with it. Chuckrow notes that when the muscles in the body aren't using contractive force, they become relaxed and the body acts like a container of fluid. Pressure is increased equally across all parts of the body.

Personally I find this fascinating. Having done a fair amount of Taoist breath work, I know that the fire breathing is similar to the contractive use of muscles...sharp and contained. It seems more powerful, but the water approach is more like the extending of muscles. It gradually builds up the force and it can be sustained much longer.

I've only read part of the first chapter and I can already say I really like this book. Check it out if you get a chance!