EDWIN TAN

We understand that you have 2 sons. How does the practice of Qi Gong, Tai Chi and Chinese Martial Arts affect your parenting?”

Taking care of 2 kids, especially 2 healthy and boisterous boys can be a stressful affair. There will be many moments of ups and downs physically as well as mentally and emotionally. For many, having a physical practice becomes very important, as it acts as a channel to release excess built up tension in the body and mind.

What makes Tai Chi, Qi Gong or the Chinese Internal Arts different is that besides working on the body, there is also a tempering of the mind during the practice. Most physical practices encourage a release or even an outburst of nervous energy, which is useful but doesn’t teach how to regulate that energy, how to regulate the mind and emotions. An example would be seeing elite athletes still prone to display of outbursts. These arts are not only for elderly people, but it just happens that many elderly people practice it as they have limited options for exercise.

On a physical level, one trains how to find balance in the body, top/bottom, left/right. Balance in the body leads to stability, stability leads to relaxedness in the body. Training in this manner, one’s body gets increasingly light on the inside yet is more stable and have more strength. Without stability, the amount of strength one can exert becomes limited. On a mental level, as the body gets more settled, the mind learns how to find comfort in the body. It learns how to observe the body and find out where are the weak spots. Through the process of calmly observing and adjusting, the mind learns how to find peace amidst movement.

As one gets proficient in balancing body and mind, these skills start to diffuse into daily life. When facing a screaming kid, one learns to be aware of the signs of one’s own anger. Symptoms like tension in the body, changes in the breath, the feeling of an energy rushing up, or even plain observing the emotion/thought of anger itself. Seeing this one can then have a suitable response to the situation, instead of just reacting to the environment. As a parent develops skilful ways to manoeuvre through unpleasant feelings and sensations, he too sets an example for the child to follow. By being more aware of oneself and the surroundings, one can develop skilful means to deal with problems.

Lastly, not forgetting that Tai Chi and Qi Gong is a physical practice, it allows for better and more freedom of play when with the kids. Having physical stability allows me to handle the kids better when they prefer rough play, as well as ensuring their safety. It also allows me to see clearer where the kids are facing difficulty when doing sports and how to teach them in a way that they can understand.