Meditation Techniques

Moving Meditation Techniques: Tai Chi As Meditation

moving meditation techniques of Tai Chi
moving meditation techniques of Tai Chi

Tai Chi has many health benefits, and can be an excellent moving meditation technique.

Meditation isn’t just sitting.  Many moving meditation techniques can work just as well as the sitting variations.  Often a beginner finds a walking meditation, or a meditation with hand movements to be very soothing…. where trying to sit still feels frustrating.

Tai Chi is more than just meditation, as it has elements of marital arts and physical health and development.  But it can also be seen as primarily a moving meditation technique.


Moving Meditation Techniques of Tai Chi

The physical techniques of tai chi chuan are described in the tai chi classics, a set of writings by traditional masters, as being characterized by the use of leverage through the joints based on coordination and relaxation, rather than muscular tension, in order to neutralize, yield, or initiate attacks. The slow, repetitive work involved in the process of learning how that leverage is generated gently and measurably increases, opens the internal circulation (breath, body heat, blood, lymph, peristalsis, etc.)

The study of tai chi chuan primarily involves three aspects:

  • Health: An unhealthy or otherwise uncomfortable person may find it difficult to meditate to a state of calmness or to use tai chi as a martial art. Tai chi’s health training, therefore, concentrates on relieving the physical effects of stress on the body and mind. For those focused on tai chi’s martial application, good physical fitness is an important step towards effective self-defense.
  • Meditation: The focus and calmness cultivated by the meditative aspect of tai chi is seen as necessary in maintaining optimum health (in the sense of relieving stress and maintaining homeostasis) and in application of the form as a soft style martial art.
  • Martial art: The ability to use tai chi as a form of self-defense in combat is the test of a student’s understanding of the art. Tai chi chuan is the study of appropriate change in response to outside forces, the study of yielding and “sticking” to an incoming attack rather than attempting to meet it with opposing force. The use of tai chi as a martial art is quite challenging and requires a great deal of training.  (from wikipedia)
Here is a delightful look at learning Tai Chi from Amy Verner, writing the The Globe and Mail.

I met up with TTCS international director Andrew Hung in Grange Park in Toronto with a small group of disciples. They were very accepting and encouraging of my newbie status, gently introducing movements with exotic names like Grasping the Bird’s Tail and Single Whip.

Learning tai chi is entirely different than, say, learning to dance like Usher (for anyone who’s ever tried). There is a beautiful yin and yang or oppositional rhythm when the movements flow into each other. This carries over from its martial arts origins; the point is to meet an incoming attack softly, follow the motion and redirect swiftly with the force of an elastic band.

To help me understand the necessity of a relaxed body, Mr. Siadatan used the analogy of how young trees have flexible branches whereas the ones on dead trees are brittle and break easily.

All of this made perfect sense; but it would take several sessions before I could feel the difference. Breathing adds another layer; inhaling happens when the abdominal wall contracts and exhaling happens when it expands. Apparently, this helps stimulate chi in the tan tien, an area below the navel that stores all our internal energy. This is why tai chi is said to increase energy rather than expend it (as running does, for example).

Among the most important points of tai chi according to Master Yang, who died in 1936, is the ability to “Distinguish Full and Empty.” In a list of his instructions, recorded in 1925, he states, “If the weight of the whole body rests on the right leg, then the right leg is full and the left leg is empty… Only after distinguishing full and empty will our turning movements be light, nimble and effortless. If we are not able to make this distinction, then our steps will be heavy and stiff. Our stance will be unsteady and we will be easily pulled off balance.”

Mr. Hung could not reinforce the notion of balance enough. It is the first step to achieving skeletal alignment.

Mr. Siadatan reassured me that I wasn’t a failure for not feeling my chi. “It’s like a radio frequency,” he insisted, adding that he is constantly aware of its energy around him. “You’re just not tuned into the right dial.”  original story here



Are you interested in learning some moving meditation techniques?  I cannot teach you Tai Chi, that’s for sure!
But many people find that moving during meditation is very helpful.  Often times people with severe pain can concentrate best when moving a little… or people who are particularly energetic or restless … or sometimes it’s really nice to have a walking meditation for no reason at all!
If you would like me to put some moving meditation techniques into the free guided meditation series that we offer on this website, please leave a comment below, and if there is sufficient interest, I’ll be sure to follow up on that!



  1. Felicia

    July 25, 2011 at 1:35 pm

    Yes please! I would love to incorporate Tai Chi into my meditative practices!

    • Jim Arthur, Senior Meditation Editor

      July 25, 2011 at 3:16 pm

      We’ll have some form of moving meditation in the free meditation series. Can’t promise Tai Chi … as that’s outside of my expertise… but something good for sure! Thanks for taking the time to comment Felicia… we really do like to hear from our readers!

    • Matthew Garvin

      July 25, 2011 at 3:35 pm

      Hello, I’ve been studying Tai Chi for about 10 years now. If you’ve never studied a martial art and are interested in Tai Chi, then finding an experienced instructor is crucial. It is considered to be the, “Grand Ultimate Fist” after all. Lore generalizes the path of the kung fu master as learning the hard styles we are familiar with from the movies, only to retire in order to practice Tai Chi in solitude. Anyhow, I’ve studied martial arts my whole life, and began learning Tai Chi through book and dvd lessons I found on Dr. Yang Jwing-Ming is an incredible Grand-Master and offers great lessons through his publishing company.

      • Jim Arthur, Senior Meditation Editor

        July 25, 2011 at 4:49 pm

        Thanks Mathew. My experience is that having high quality teachers is important in everything we learn… .so I’m totally down with what you are saying. Thanks for contributing.

  2. Juliet Price

    July 25, 2011 at 1:52 pm

    I’m so very interested in meditating in this form, and am delighted to see this here today as I was thinking of this very form of meditation. Please send a link to learn more.


    July 25, 2011 at 2:54 pm

    Life without meditation is not life……

  4. Lila

    July 25, 2011 at 2:54 pm

    I love tai chi! For years I did it until lymphedema made it impossible to continue. But I just loved doing it, for about 30 minutes a day. The awesome thing is that you feel the chi moving, as you direct it. It is a fantastic form of meditation and personally I like it much better than yoga. Some day soon I will start again, once the lymphedema has gone down. Thanks for posting this.

    • Jim Arthur, Senior Meditation Editor

      July 25, 2011 at 3:13 pm

      Thanks for the feedback Lila. One of the main things we are doing here is presenting lots of different ideas …. as reminders …. and openings to change … as suggestions to try…

      And of course we like getting suggestions on articles too… (from you and others)

  5. Terry Schoonerman

    September 22, 2011 at 2:38 am

    I would love to hear more about moving meditation techniques. Thanks!!

    • Jim Arthur, Senior Meditation Editor

      October 1, 2011 at 2:34 pm

      Coming right up Terry…. make sure you subscribe to the guided meditation series by putting your name and email in the box at the top right of every page. That’s how we will notify you.

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