Increasing amounts of hard science has proven that the human brain has what's known as a negative bias...in other words people are hardwired to segregate themselves from others and to look at the glass as half-empty.
And although that might kind sound kind of awful to some of you, remember that these ways of looking at / thinking about things are actually effective survival techniques dating back to the time when we lived in caves and even events of everyday life could quickly become a very real threat (you're much safer hangin' with your peeps when it's always possible a wild animal might spring at you unexpectedly from behind a rock, etc.)
For most people these days this negative bias is simply a very quiet but consistent undercurrent running in the subconscious mind...for more information on how the human brain is constantly dividing everyone around us into "Us and Them," click here to read a fascinating article my good friend Sr Rita Woehlcke, SSJ recently forwarded to me. An increasingly large number of people, however, are dealing with various forms of PTSD, a condition in which the amygdala (the fear center of the brain) literally holds the higher-functioning areas of the brain hostage when it detects any type of potential threat...those who suffer from that condition are trapped in a long-ago loop of feelings as if they're currently experiencing a clear and present danger.
The bottom line with all of this is that most people spend the majority of their lives reacting to:
- either something they've experienced in the past (or even something that REMINDS them of something they've experienced in the past)
- or something they anticipate in the future (which may or may not even occur.)
And what both of these really reactive behavior patterns have in common is that they keep a person literally locked in either the past or the future...the present moment almost doesn't even exist. And the longer a person follows these patterns of behavior, the deeper these behavior "grooves" become...Justin Stone (Originator of T'ai Chi Chih and University Professor of Meditation and Eastern Philosophy) would call these "habit energies" or the Hindus would call them "vasanas."
Regardless of the language you use to describe these behavior patterns, I think we can all agree that being locked in the past or constantly trying to outsmart possible future events is, if nothing else, an EXHAUSTING way to think and live! (The words control-freakish, crazy-making, and overwhelming also spring to mind but that's my own personal spin on the subject because just like everybody else I, of course, get caught up in these behaviors from time to time as well!)
But I have good news! Just ONE of the MANY side effects of practicing T'ai Chi Chih (or any form of meditation for that matter) is an enhanced capacity for “going with the flow” or, in other words, being fully present at any one moment rather than living a life simply REACTING, REACTING, REACTING. Look, I know from experience it sometimes seems easier to focus almost exclusively on the “hard stuff” (because it’s really hard to get through...DUH!) But think about it, for most people the hard stuff takes up a much smaller percentage of an entire life than the easy stuff, right?
And regardless of the MASSIVE difference T'ai Chi Chih has made not only in my life but in the lives of countless other regular practitioners, of course I realize that T'ai Chi Chih isn't for everyone! But T'ai Chi Chih is very possibly the easiest way to meditate so to my way of thinking that might indeed make it the best way...why don't you just give it try and see for yourself? Click here for info on my next class and see how easy it can be to get unstuck from those unconscious ruts!
Jessica Lewis, CPT, CNC
HCC Lifestyle Coach