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Have you noticed how good music does wonders in all aspects, how it makes chores easier, time quicker, exercise less tiring, working more fun, and so on? We hear music wherever we go, especially in places where wellness is the primary concern and goal, like the gym, a spa, and Yoga classes. Research shows that music has a profound effect on the body and the mind. Music in general promotes ease, calmness, and freedom from sadness and mental and physical tensions.

But what has it got to do with meditating? Meditation is a personal devotion and mental excursion that serves to improve one's over all wellness and spirituality. It is often understood as simply sitting for a really long time trying to get the mind on tabula rasa (blank). But for the sake of being able to concentrate, most people use mantras (chanting holy words) during the meditative process. Other practitioners use prayers beads similar to the Holy Rosary. Some meditation teachers think mantras are for cheaters, those who cannot relax their minds without having to use words as a distraction from other thoughts. But for those who do not have the luxury of sitting on a hilltop in front of a stunning view and meditating in "Buddha" position for hours, they use meditation music. To many, it's considered instant meditation. But meditation music also has its own benefits.

Research shows that music arouses brainwaves causing them to sync with the rhythm. With faster beats, sharper concentration and alertness is promoted. With a slower tempo, calmness or a meditative state is being promoted. Music aids in the meditative process and helps you complete the whole practice, thereby allowing you to benefit from the activity. Meditation music also promotes the whole brain functioning, wherein the left and right brain hemispheres are made to commune with each other. Meditation music also gives the brain the ability to withstand more and harder stresses. And by actively promoting optimism or a positive state of mind, depression and anxiety are kept at bay. Which type of music is good for meditation? There are a lot which you can download online, but you should pick audio programs that are really designed for deep meditative purposes.

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T'ai Chi has quickly become one of the most popular exercises in the world today, being practiced by roughly twenty percent of the world's population. The largest reason for this is simply that it feels so good when you perform it. T'ai Chi started out as a martial art, but has quickly become adopted and taught in schools, hospitals, and even businesses. Many companies have realized how well T'ai Chi can boost productivity by keeping employees happy, relaxed, and creative.

The biggest reason for T'ai Chi's growing popularity is our increasing level of stress. It was designed to help you work through changes by improving the way that we handle this stress. The way it does this is by helping us let this stress go, rather than storing it up and dwelling on it.

T'ai Chi allows us to relieve ourselves of all the nervous tension that we carry, allowing our bodies to work better. By doing this, we can stay in better shape and feel more healthy overall. After just a short time of practicing T'ai Chi, you should notice yourself looking and feeling better. Letting the nervous stress and tension melt away will literally add years to your life.

When our bodies are tense and stressed, it blocks the flow of our life energy, or Qi (Chi). Qi flows through all living things, and is essentially our life's energy. When we are stressed, worried, and tense, our body doesn't allow this essential energy to flow through our body. By going through the motions of T'ai Chi, you body is forced to relax, which allows you to let go of this stress that is weighing you down. After each session, your mind will be clear, your body will be relaxed, and your emotions will be calmed, allowing you to be totally at ease. No other exercise allows you to calm your body so efficiently and effectively. T'ai Chi is easily on track to becoming the exercise of the future.

While T'ai Chi is considered a martial art, it is one that can be practiced by absolutely anyone. Whether young or old, male or female, there is no one person that can't do it. It's even practiced by people in wheelchairs.

If you're at all interested in finding something that will help you calm your life, feel better, and treat your body holistically, then I highly suggest you look into T'ai Chi. There are many places you can learn it, the most popular of which is at a martial arts studio. You might check with your local community college, or even find some DVD's or videos at the local library. No matter how you learn it, you'll definitely enjoy the results. I challenge yourself to try it for 2 months and see if you're not feeling better, with much less stress in your life.

Lucas is a contributing author at http://www.collagepictureframeshq.com. Stop by if you're interested in learning more about Collage Picture Frames.

Chi is a large and multifaceted concept that is deeply rooted in the Chinese culture. It applies both to the tangible, such as the body, and to the intangible aspects such as feelings. Even inanimate objects can be said to contain different qualities of chi in that they evoke certain responses in the people viewing them. The understanding of chi is usually an intuitive process that lacks the scientific, mechanical explanation. And so to give it a straight forward scientific definition is a difficult task.

Although a clear definition escapes, it is still a powerful and useful concept. In Chinese medicine chi is used to explain how the different parts relate to each other. In Chi Gong it is used for healing purposes. In martial arts such as Tai Chi Chuan it is used as a tool to connect the bodily energies.

Here we shall focus on how it can be used in Tai Chi Gong, the authentic practice of Tai Chi Chuan. Tai Chi refers to the supreme balance that emphasizes the unification of body/mind/energies. Gong indicates a deep skill. Chuan refers to something that is practiced for the purpose of self-defence.

Within martial arts chi has a quality similar to air and can be seen as carrying energy. It is that which mediates the expression of energy. One of chi's important aspects is that it is moved, or lead, by mind and intention. Most of us can experience this by giving attention to a particular body part, such as the hand. By focusing attentively with the clear intention of warming it up, it is not too difficult to raise the temperature of that hand. With some practice most are able to succeed. Having the feedback of a sensitive thermometer can be quite satisfying in this case.

In Tai Chi Gong chi is used more extensively. It is something that can be felt, enhanced and used to guide our bodily movements, strengthen our body, and used for self-defence purpose. To understand how it is done it is helpful to learn about the concept of Jin. Jin is seen as a force, something that can be felt physically and the effects of which can be seen. Jin is mediated and led by chi. And so, as chi and our ability to manipulate it increase, the force jin grows in strength and flexibility.

This leads us to one of the core teachings and practices of Tai Chi Gong. This is the teaching of the three internal unifications that make the practice possible. The way to see it is that the spirit/attention moves the mind/intention, the mind/intention moves the chi, and the chi moves the jin. Thus in learning to manipulate chi we need to integrate spirit - mind - force.

In Tai Chi Chuan one is trained to learn new patterns of reaction. For instance, when faced with outside force, the normal reaction of an untrained person is to resist. In true Tai Chi Chuan one learns different techniques focused on the spirit/attention, mind/intention and chi. We may then choose to re-direct the incoming force. But the force that is then exerted on the other person does not come from our physical resistance and muscular strength. Often it comes from the opponent's chi and has been carefully controlled and re-directed, leading to a physically felt jin force. This is what is meant by using the mind instead of the body.

Thus in Tai Chi Gongone learns how to strengthen and control chi, often for self-defence purposes. However, its core and most important practice, the one that makes it all possible involves the three internal unifications, where spirit, mind, and force are integrated in a supreme balance.

Reference:

Zang Yun, "Qi in Taijiquan Applications", p 14 in "T'ai Chi - The International Magzine of T'ai Chi Ch'uan", Vol. 31, No. 4

Mattias Lindkvist has been practicing Tai Chi for over two decades. He is passionate about Tai Chi Gong, the true art of Tai Chi Chuan and has started a website where he shares his findings on authentic Tai Chi Chuan.